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Food and drink Confidential

Gordon Ramsay looks at Liverpool base; the boastful bacon butty; Merchants fun, Malaga Mal life and more

Written by . Published on July 1st 2010.


Food and drink Confidential

GORDON Ramsay has been looking around Liverpool One.

Haven't we all? But it turns out the tourettes king of the kitchen has been looking for premises with a view to opening up here next year. Cover your ears.

Well that's according to a nice waiter in Jamie Oliver's latest enterprise, Jamie's Italian, last week. If it happens, it's yet another you-heard-it-here-first.

We will be doing a full review of the Paradise Street venue in the course of time, but seeing as we found ourselves in there, and everyone keeps asking us what it is like, here goes.

It shaped up good.

Our gang of four enjoyed top service – the attention we received was every bit as knowledgeable and smart as the crew Oliver employs at his flagship London gaff, Fifteen, which we reviewed in January (click here).

“These are the world's best olives. Want to know where they are grown?” sort of thing from our chap. So why wouldn't we believe him about Gordon?

Four of us got to grips with lamb lollipops, a cute way of describing cutlets on a brown paper bag, chicken cooked under a brick and “tart's pasta” puttanesca, which was good, but not as fantastic as the same dish served in Carluccio's, Manchester, the week before.

As Antonio Carluccio is Jamie's old mentor, it's good to see there's still a thing he can teach the lad. Not much mind.

******

Confidential found itself in Merchants on Monday lunchtime. Quaffing red wine and eating not-at-all-bad fish and chips and mushy peas. Such decadence is in short supply in these straitened times, but at only £8.95 for two really good courses (three courses £11.95) it's worth a punt of anyone's money.

Since they frosted the glass over and dimmed that big sunny room with dusky voile panels at the Castle St venue, you'll be blocking out the world in no time. No one is going to find you in here, but be careful who you take: this is such a bargain deal, you may find appear on a wanted list of bloody cheapskates, good fish and chips or not.

It's like code, one you would probably find in a spoof spy film.

“I'd rather be in Liverpool Mal than Malaga.” you have to say. Cue Eleanor Bron and John Lennon, perhaps, wearing shades and hanging out in dangly wicker chairs.

However, if you say those very words when you are dining from the a la carte menu at the Malmaison Brasserie, hey presto, you will receive a free glass of Pimms or wine.

We were in there last weekend and obviously forgot to say it ourselves. As this little utterance is worth around a fiver - the equivalent of six months Nectar points - and as we ended up spending £135 in there on a review that you are going to get next week, we are still regretting not saying the M words. Mmmm, get stuck in.

Congratulations to Ye Cracke which was last week named Cultured Pub of the Year at the Mersey CAMRA awards. This is a deserved accolade which has been long coming in the literal sense – after all, Ye Cracke has always teemed with all life forms. It's just a shame some nearby residents didn't see this all that time ago when they paid to move into the “cultural quarter” around Hope St and had the beer garden shut down.

On the bright side, at least the pub stoically remains while others fall by the wayside. And while an al fresco beer still cannot be enjoyed in the evening, there is still all of a long summer's day for you to sit out in this excellent area and watch regulars, well, fall by their own wayside. We are there already.

******

Scientific fact: A bacon sandwich really does cure a hangover.

It does it by boosting the level of amines which clear the head, scientists have found. Or something like that which all will sound very smart if you say it in nodding company.

And after the reported bacchanal that was Sunday's World Cup defeat, the headaches are now a fuzzy memory. Even the evidence of mass misery on a sunny afternoon – an overdose of WKD and kebabs - has been long washed away by a nature's own street-cleaning mechanism – a couple of summer downpours.

But for anyone still suffering, or onto their third, fourth or fifth hangover since, there's a place for us – well you, anyway, let's make this clear: Bold Street Coffee is boasting the finest bacon sandwich around.

Goodness, we thought, when we spied a large blackboard proclaiming “The Best Bacon Butty on Bold St, just £2.50.”

Better than Maggie May's? Cafe Tabac, with its home made bread? Scoff? The Soul Cafe, etcetera, etcetera? It's a big, bold claim for the new kid on the block.

We tried it. It's good. It's very good. Big slabs of bouncy granary bread, generous sizzling, well-cured rashers that come from happy pigs (well, happy up to a point, obviously).

Who said pigs can't fly: These bacon beauties are flying out of the kitchen every day. There's just one gripe: like the people most in need of them, ours was suffering from a bit too much sauce.

Let us know who does a good bacon butty. We will know if you are telling porkies.

*Got any It's like code, one you would probably find in a spoof spy film.“I'd rather be in Liverpool Mal than Malaga.” you have to say. Cue Eleanor Bron and John Lennon, perhaps, wearing shades and hanging out in dangly wicker chairs.However, if you say those very words when you are dining from the a la carte menu at the Malmaison Brasserie, hey presto, you will receive a free glass of Pimms or wine.

We were in there last weekend and obviously forgot to say it ourselves. As this little utterance is worth around a fiver - the equivalent of six months Nectar points - and as we ended up spending £135 in there on a review that you are going to get next week, we are still regretting not saying the M words. Mmmm, get stuck in.

******

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