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Restaurant Review: Paul's Place

Our rotund cabbie, Fat Git, sets about improving his swing up in Grassendale

Published on August 7th 2009.


Restaurant Review: Paul's Place


DON'T ask me how I get involved in these situations. I just do.

One minute we are in The Kingsman, on Aigburth Road, me and Pauline, having a quiet lager. The next we are over the road, in Paul's Place, with this other couple, where it's all so hot I have to tell them to wedge open the door. And I'm not just talking about the air temperature.

We are sitting in this boozer with “Graham and Ann”, a couple
she met in some
online forum after
she googled the words “clubs” and “swing”

To backtrack: In June, I was called in for a medical assessment. For many years I have been on Incapacity Benefit. Sixteen to be precise. To anyone who thinks that this is a way of getting money for nothing, let me tell you something: I am not one of those work-shy types you read about. I am on the rank all hours. Single handed.

It's hard graft on the taxis, and when I'm not bimbling the streets of Liverpool, it's happy days enjoying the good life in our city's fine restaurants. And our even more iffy ones.

But every two years I have to go in and be examined to keep the claim up. It's like The Knowledge, but with tape measures. The doc, a German, is telling me it's time to get rid of the moobs and triple vanilla love handles. He suggests I take up golf.

Pauline thinks this is a good idea too. So we spend all this summer on Bootle golf course, swapping the Fairway for the fairway. I'm knackered, but she's getting into it, she wants to improve and has been asking other golfers for tips.

As a result we are sitting in this boozer with “Graham and Ann”, a couple she met in some online forum after she googled the words “clubs” and “swing”.

They are saying how they enjoy seeing members in the flesh.

They don't look much like golfers to me, in their leather jackets and tight leather trousers. He is totally bald, as thin as a rake. She is platinum blonde and has so many pierced rings from the forehead down, that if you had a flag pole you could run her up.

They are discussing star signs and fortune-telling. I tell them Pauline has always been gifted with her palm.

Any road, after a few jars, it's time to celebrate the fact that Herr Doctor has signed Yours Truly off for the forseeable. And Paul's Place is the nearest thing to the 19th hole – after the 18 dotted down this bird's torso, that is.

We are on our second bottle of Montana Malborough sauvignon blanc (£18.95), as cold and steely as the piercings, when the starters come. They aren't cheap but you get a lot. Like me.

Ham hock salad (£6.95) is a generous feast of shredded home-cooked piggy, with a meaty flavour and texture that can't be bettered. The shards are scattered in between fat rings of top class, blood-warm, black pudding and thin slices of crisp red apple with a grain mustard dressing on bed of lettuce leaves. Fantastic combination.

Pauline is devouring an ocean of king prawns on brushcetta (£7.55), as pink, delicate and abundant as her toes. They are cooked in a proper lot of garlic you can smell a mile off, not one of those Anglo-nothing affairs, with a good scattering of parsley and red chilli on a bed of rocket. At least “Paul”, whose “Place” once used to be De Couberten's sports cafe, thinks beyond the lazy obvious of dumping everything on the same job lot of mixed lollo-rosso from a bag. Which you lot all seem to find nothing wrong with.

Hearty chunks of salmon protrude from a scorched potato cake (£6.25) which “Graham” is feasting on, adorned in a generous draping of hollandaise, richly patterned in dill. He says it's alright, but he doesn't look like he would know a good feed if it hit him in the face to tell you the truth. I am a man of the world, and I have eaten in some of the finest Michelin starred restaurants. This bloke has never been outside Runcorn. I mean how many fine dining establishments are there in Halton Lea shops?

Pauline is well into the third bottle of Kiwi fruit. Meanwhile, this bird Ann is

gazing at me while slowly spreading a thick slab of very smooth pate (£5.95) and onion marmalade over some toast. She nudges my leg with her foot, or it might be Pauline's rucksack falling over, I dunno.

“Do you ever think about sharing?” she whispers, her tongue stud glinting.

“Too right,” I reply. It's clearly green for go, so I immediately pick up my fork and wade in. The plate is cleared in a mouthful. A very nice mouthful too.

A big joint of Goosnargh chicken (£13.95) is the star of a French/rustic-looking dish in a smooth velvety Madeira liquor washed up on roast potato boulders, spinach, roast shallots and roast garlic, topped off by a guard of julienned carrots. No messing about, just simple and hearty.

Pauline, well flushed by now, fares less well with her Cumbrian rump of lamb (£14.95). They didn't ask her if she wanted it pink, or any other way for that matter, she's saying. They probably thought she was pink enough already. So it's a bit overdone for her. Still, if she wanted pink she's got a massive dollop, the colour of bubble gum, sitting alongside.

It's beetroot tzatziki or “Lancashire meets Lesbos on a plate,” murmurs Ann. Now there's a thought.

Luckily, the raw material is quality enough (from the Queen's flock, apparently) to survive the long wait at the lights and it still retains tenderness and flavour. The big side order of garlic green beans, complete with tails, is finely cooked and I demolish the lot.

Up here in Grassendale, with its mansions and barristers and businessmen, no one cares about cheap. I always remind myself of that when it's clock and a half. Therefore there are two steak dishes on the menu: affordable sirloin (£16) and pushing the boat out (£22.95).

The skinny bloke is having the best - the pricier fillet medallions in a green peppercorn sauce. I've seen better presented steak dishes, although the meat, again, has kept a good flavour for the requested medium.

“It must be well hung,” Pauline cackles, diving into this bloke's bottle of French cabernet sauvignon (£14.95) and putting her arm around him. With its cluster of sweet cherry tomatoes and a slice of field mushroom, it's not exactly fussy for the price. That's only an observation and you would like it though.

A firm piece of roasted cod (£15.50), for the studded one, surpasses even the London Carriage Works' version of fish and chips, on price. It's topped by a crunchy layer of crumb and resides on a fat cushion of fresh, proper mushy peas. A large quantity of lemon and rosemary chips, as good and honest as those from my own chipper, turns up, hot and sizzling as Pauline, despite her rattling coughs and guffaws.

She is past pudding, and the skinny bloke is having none of it, probably because I've just told him we're splitting the bill. So I plough on with a home baked pear tart (£5.50) which hits the spot nicely.

The Cointreaus (£3.25), are probably a mistake.

“I'm so hot....” says Pauline, her last words of the night. “Yeah, me too,” I reply eyeing Mildred Pierce's Eton Mess.

Perhaps it was Pauline's untimely slump on the table. Perhaps it was when I mentioned that she and I had yet to achieve a hole in one.

We'll never know. But quite suddenly our friends from the Improve Your Swinging forum got up, made their excuses. And left.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: Fine dining against the best fine dining, cafés against the best cafés etc... Following on from this, the scores represent: 1-5: Saw off your leg and eat that; 6-9: Get a DVD; 10-11: Only in an emergency; 12-13: If you’re passing; 14-15 Worth a trip; 16-17 Exceptional; 18-19: Verging on greatness; 20: Does it get any better? No.

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Benny HillAugust 7th 2009.

Git, you disgust me with your fat stomach and lecherous ways. I suppose you all went for a stroll in the Otterspool night air after that with Pauline on a wooden board.

One who knows about these thingsAugust 7th 2009.

It's a lot better than the Gulshan next door. Good food simply presented like the review says. Go!

egon donnayAugust 7th 2009.

Go here. NOW. You wont find better nosh without a michelin star this side of Perpignan.Get in there fill your boots and pig out before they realise what a magician the chef is and start ripping off the prices.Oh, go NOW!

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