Category Archives: restaurant

Some newish (and new to me) things

It’s taken me a while to write this, but I have been making some new inroads. For me, February began with Scoustroclub, the long-awaited dining club for getting this city’s emergent ‘foodie’ scene together over some good food. Others have blogged the event, here and here, so I’m just going to add my voice to theirs to say it was a great event, and Lunya fantastic hosts. They put together a thoughtful and interesting menu – terrific ingredients put together cleverly – made even better by an excellent set of wine pairings (although I suffered for it). I think it’s worth commenting that the meat and fish dishes were considerably more impressive and better thought through than the veggie ones, although I am very grateful to Peter for being considerate of this pesky pescetarian – I forget that these dietary peculiarities are less common up here, and was a bit shamed to be the only one in the room – particularly for bringing me delicious, juicy, lime-marinated crispy fried cod with pisto, in place of the Presa Iberica. The smoked anchovies were another highlight. I’m going to have to go to their deli. Soon.

I also enjoyed meeting some Twitter food types a bit more properly, and had loads of fun with (among others) @misscay, @rhub_custard, and @laurasbakery

Speaking of whom, another recent arrival in the city centre is Laura’s cafe in the home quarter. Tucked in a corner behind ludicrously expensive sofas, there is a counter piled with absurdly pretty creations with a creative, and constantly changing, selection of designs and flavours. And because she really values her customers, she makes sure we get good coffee as well as good cake, supplied by bold st coffee (who also trained up her staff). This is not to be underestimated.

Since then, I’ve been all swept up with Threshold Festival. Not strictly new, but in its second year, and with a feel of optimism and hope that’s all the more impressive given the venue closures, including that of its own, last year. But by some miracle of force and good will and determination, it went ahead, scrabbling its way into a handful of other venues and filling in the logistical holes left by CUC’s closure as best possible. It felt huge, ambitious and diverse. Maybe it was too ambitious. I can’t review the festival, as I was working as a volunteer throughout, providing info, answering questions, and selling some merchandise, to festival guests. Others have, though, here and here and here (and, doubtless, elsewhere). I did have an amazing experience, though, met loads of interesting and lovely people and learned a lot, and saw some great performers, artworks and spaces.

I loved helping to install Robyn Woolston’s ‘Smart Price’ piece, yarnbombing the area with @kazzer865 , and also have a list of bands to check out and look into. Camp and Furnace was the main venue, and though rather chilly, it’s a great space and has loads of potential. I hope all those positives outweigh the hitches, and this is something that comes back and keeps working.

Lastly, I’ve written all this on my return from the reboot of Liverpool’s Social Media Café. Again it’s a rerun rather than a strict new beginning, but it seems apt to include it here. Newness and the future are all the rage here, particularly in Adrian McEwan’s launch of his project It’s Liverpool 2020, which is an attempt at a grassroots vision of change. Democratising technology is pretty much what he is already actively trying to achieve through DoES Liverpool, but by inviting participants to articulate their visions, it creates a space for interesting ideas to emerge. I feel like I’m still learning Liverpool as it is now too much to start planning its future, but am interested to see what emerges.

On a more practical level, open street map is a project to create just that – a free, quality, open, editable (therefore hopefully always up to date) map of, well, everywhere, through GPS tracking, image tracing and such. And, more theoretically, Francis Irving talked about some of the ways of creating and using online communities as ‘nests’, and the challenges of making these popular, sustainable, and even profitable. This, and the ideas of Excapite he was drawing upon, spoke to my interest in online identities and inclusivity/exclusivity. It also ties into questions raised earlier this week at Threshold Festival’s industry discussion panels and at the State of the Arts conference in Manchester about creativitity and the commercial, which feel especially pressing at the moment…


Early tastes of my new life in Liverpool

This is my first post since, two weeks ago, I left my lifelong (almost) home of north east London and started a new life and adventure in Liverpool. I was leaving a job I hated, working for a government I hated, and a city I love but found exhausting. Dr E has a job in Liverpool and we’ve got to know it as an interesting, friendly place, and so it seemed like a good chance for me to break away and have the late gap year (or early mid-life crisis) that was awaiting. I hope this time gives me opportunities to learn and experience new things, more time to cook and to make things, to read and to write, to do more good than bad. Beyond that, I’m feeling open-minded and excited. I’m a  little bit addicted to
variety and new things and hope I can sustain that here – there’s a vibrant culture and diverse communities so I am sure I’ll be all right.

My first weekend here I was pleased to be welcomed by the Hope Street Feast as a quick intro to some of Liverpool’s food ‘scene’. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the prevalence of cupcakes. I wanted to try Laura’s little bakery as she’s a strong twitter presence but frankly there was too much of a queue and it was too far away from the coffee stall. I had a salted caramel cupcake from Blackburne house’s stall (which was nice but, if I’m being picky, could have carried more flavour). Also took home some goodies: sweet, flavoursome little strawberries from a farm stall,  a selection of 3 beers from  Peerless brewery –  the woman on the stall was sure I would like them all (all light girly enough ones) and so far I’ve
very much enjoyed the Triple blonde – fairly billed as ‘zesty’ – very hoppy and refreshing, and thought the Viking Blond was nice though not as exciting. I also treated myself to a lovely nutty sheep’s cheese from the Liverpool Cheese Company whose name I couldn’t remember but have decided from the website it must have been the Berkswell Ewe. Mmm.

I’ve dipped my toe into the restaurant scene starting with:

Chilli Banana – fabulous Thai food. Very slow service but it was Saturday night and it was worth it.

Sahara is a very decent Lebanese near the university with good mezze –  perfect haloumi, rich, spicy muhammara – we only needed more pitta – and for mains we had an aubergine-rich, tender vegetable stew. All accompanied with BYO
chilled-outness, dated décor and cheeky scouse service.

I’ve been to Host before and knew I was going back soon – it didn’t let me down.

I’m wowed by Liverpool’s cafes, Bold St Coffee does an unsurprisingly delicious, complex cup. I’ve tried out Oomoo, a friendly chilled-out cafe just around the
corner where. I had a good americano, and slice of peanut butter cheesecake. I wouldn’t normally pick cheesecake but as a peanut butter enthusiast my fancy was taken. This was delicious, creamy with a subtle peanut flavour filling on a crumbly nutty base. And somewhere nice to sit, and change from a fiver. Am definitely going back there, not least to try out the extensive range of teas and was pretty appealed by the savoury muffins, too. Moon & Pea did me a great cup of coffee, nice brunch (eggs florentine) and somewhere nice to sit outdoors on a sunny day. I thought I’d have to go back to try out those desserts, but my little brother was not deterred by the heat, tucking into an immense sticky toffee pudding to the amusement of the staff (I had a spoonful. It was amazing).


I could hardly miss out the pubs and have sampled a few nice pints in the Philharmonic, Leaf, and a little boozer in Southport when I popped up there for one night of the British Fireworks Championships (long story!)

Believe it or not, I have done other things than just eat and drink. I’ve also been exploring and even at times looking for a job. I got involved in the Abandon Normal Devices festival which gave me a great chance to see some fascinating contemporary art being shown and created and to talk to loads of interesting people. I partied in the Kazimier’s created world of Atalonia, heard some  interesting electro-punk at Static, played with pigs’ bladder footballs, watched monkeys watching humans acting as monkeys, and people acting as fictional people going through a ’70s self-actualisation seminar. It’s made me think about loads of questions. What’s the role and representation of time in art and how
art acts with and against a ‘history’ of events? These new forms of art pose challenges to the role of the ‘human’ as essential but also as creator and spectator. AND is ambitious, posing challenges to big hegemonies, such as science and the commercialisation of sport, but at times succeeded in doing so in a fun, engaging way. The pace was pretty exhausting, but there really are always fantastic things going on and it really enthused me for my time in Liverpool.