Here at SevenStreets we love good food, but just as importantly we love good value for money. It’s the feeling of getting what you paid for that can really make or break a meal, be it £10 or £100 a head. We recently documented the fine dining failures in Liverpool on these grounds, and we are always quick to praise the brilliant cheap eats in our city. Our views on Tribeca, The Eureka, Kimos and eats under a fiver are well known. So when we come across a meal that, in comparison to the food served, is so cheap it has us rechecking the menu for a misprint, we always get a bit jittery with excitement. Make of that what you will.
The Lawns restaurant, in Thornton Hall Hotel, offers a pleasant escape from the city for lunch or evening meal. That it holds three AA rosettes is a distinction not currently held by any restaurant on the Liverpool side of the Mersey – shockingly – and one well worth noting as a guide to quality food. It was not, however, the rosettes that really interested us, it was the prices. Lunch can be as little as £16.95 for two courses or £18.95 for three. For this standard of food that’s the kind of price that had us taking off our glasses and polishing them to make sure we’d read it right. Metaphorically speaking (although we do use them for subtitled films and One Direction concerts).
Ok, a further look into the menu reveals higher prices of an evening, with three courses at £34 and a tasting menu at £70. But this lunch time deal is a bargain in anyone’s book, primarily because the food is so very good.
Before our starters arrived, a small amuse of seared scallop with salsa verde sphere promptly appeared on the table. The delicate green blob was crying out to be punctured, trust us, and it was sharp and flavourful along side a perfectly cooked scallop.
A starter of braised ox tongue, looked like an entire tongue laid across a plate: perhaps not the most appetising of challenges. But it was delicious with deep flavour and a wonderful rich foie gras bon bon. It was a fantastic dish and matched by a dish of meaty pork cheek with caramelised apple and crackling. This was food showing skill and imagination.
Main courses carried on in a similar vein of quality cooking, a piece of crispy skinned sea trout was cooked with a perfectly moist interior. The ginger nage it came served with, was rich and creamy with a wealth of crunchy and veg and wonderful soft delicate gnocchi. Our other dish of duck breast was a picture of perfection, the carved breast interspered with summer veg, herbs and duck jus. Another two great dishes and I was really pleased, and still convinced the price just wasn’t right.
Caramelised banana with condensed milk parfait was good, perhaps not quite up to the standards of the previous two courses but, hey, they were a tough act to follow. A pavlova with raspberries offered one of those oh-so-now deconstructed takes on a retro favourite. Yes, the flavours worked well together, but surely the game’s up now on riding roughshod over well-loved classics? Mostly, all they seem to show is that the original is best.
So the desserts weren’t quite up the standard of the first two courses, but taken as a complete experience this was very good cooking by a talented chef. If you have time to sneak away for a special lunch, we’d recommend it.
We appreciate that making it over for a midweek lunch can be tricky for most, but it’s worth the effort. That being said, the £34 evening menu is still very good value. The Lawns offers excellent cooking that kept us intrigued and excited about the plates of food in front of us.
Once again the restaurants in the Wirral are showing their urban neighbours how to do it.
The Lawns at Thornton Hall