Thursday 24 April 2014

Salt House Bacaro, Liverpool

We visited the latest opening from the Salt House group for lunch during the sunny Easter break. Salt House Bacaro serves up Italian inspired small plates and is situated a couple of doors away from San Carlo on Castle Street. The area is like a mini Italian town with Olive and Piccolinos also in close proximity. The restaurant fills the Italian small plates void left since the closure of Pesto in Liverpool One.

The décor has a warehouse/factory feel which seems to be bog standard these days and is similar to Artisan in Manchester and Byron Liverpool in terms of tone and atmosphere. We are fans of Salt House Tapas from the same group which serves up the Spanish equivalent if you never guessed from the name. Being lunch we decided to order a few dishes from the set lunch menu and some from the a la carte. The lunch deal is 3 small plates from a set menu similar to Salt House Tapas but minus the bread.

The main menu has a varied mix of cichetti, charcuterie, pizzettes, fish, meat and veg dishes. The star dishes for us were sautéed langoustines with frigola pasta, saffron cream & tomato and Stornoway black pudding with sautéed chicken livers, caramelised onions & marsala wine. The number of langoustines was generous and the saffron cream complemented the subtle sweet langoustines well. In contrast the black pudding and chicken liver dish was much richer but the big bold flavours worked well with the sweetness of the onions cutting through the heaviness. Definitely a sharing dish due to its richness.

Grilled king scallop with garlic & parsley butter was a simple dish but well executed, not much can go wrong really as long as the produce is fresh. Roasted monkfish with white bean & pancetta cassoulet was a little safe with the bean cassoulet not really adding much to the firmly cooked fish.

From the charcuterie section we chose the board of Copa de Parma ham, bresaola & fennel salami. A generous serving of simple good quality cured meats.

From the set lunch menu we had the Nduju sausage, tomato and mozzarella pizzette which we were warned carried a chilli kick. This proved the case for Mrs Nom but I felt it needed more Nudju, but the pizette was cooked just right with a balanced amount of sweet tomato and mozzarella.

Our other selections from the set menu were pan fried seabass with pepperonata and salsa verde and steam mussels with cream and tarragon. The fillet of seabass was a good size with a crispy skin, however I’m not sure if I am a fan of pepperonata which was a little bitter for my taste. The small bowl of mussels was probably the weakest dish of the meal. The mussel meat themselves were some of the smallest we have seen and the portion size was stingy even for small plates.

Early days yet but Salt House Bacaro has a lot of potential and is another welcome addition to the Liverpool dining scene.

Salt House Bacaro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Meat And Liquor, Liverpool

When Meat and Liquor were announced on the Lark Lane dining scene there was uproar in the capital over the perceived plagiarism of one of its favourite sons, Meat Liquor. It humoured me that the Twitterati were out in force calling the restaurant all sorts of names that you would only bestow to your worst enemies.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery or is it just outright infringement? To be fair I don’t give a damn what a restaurants called or how it looks as long as its clean and serves up good food. If someone opened up in Liverpool called Fat Ducks or The Frenchie with identical logos and décor as the more illustrious inspired originals I would be along in a flash if the food was up to scratch without batting an eyelid.

Meat and Liquor only have a Twitter presence it seems with no website but they seem to have built up a loyal following with a constant stream of punters during our visit. No doubt aided by its name at first but to be fair they could probably ditch it now and still continue as they are. The menu is the expected typical American fare. Judging by the tables with logos of unmistakeable American companies such as Harley Davidson and Coca Cola along with a huge Brooklyn Brewery sign on one of the walls.

There are a small range of burgers, fries, hot dogs and specials along with an equally compact drinks menu. The retweets from the restaurant seem to contain endless mentions for its duck fries from the specials board so they were a must and sounded the most appealing to be fair among naked and bacon fries. Topped with duck meat fried, cucumber and spring onions they were simply a joy. The fries were just average but with the toppings it just worked, like duck pancakes but with fries instead of the pancakes, winner winner!!!

From the burger menu I couldn’t look past the Brooklyn Big Ass which was packed with bacon, jack cheese, pulled pork, onion strings, slaw and house sauce. The burger was made from minced rump and cooked through, this gave it good beef flavour rather than trying to serve pink and being bland which I found at Free State Kitchen. Served on a brioche bun which could of been slightly toasted, the burger overall was enjoyable but not did not wow as theres so much choice on the market these days.

Mrs Nom, being anti beef on this day plumped for the Louisiana chicken. Fried chicken in a bun being a pretty accurate description, the chicken was moist and did its job I was told.

All washed down with a Brooklyn beer this was ideal for a quick bite. The Lark Lane area appears pretty run down since my last visit but Meat And Liquor fits right in with the vibe in the area.

Meat And Liquor on Urbanspoon

Monday 14 April 2014

Beef and Pudding, Manchester

We are always the last it seems to try out the latest openings around Manchester, although having to travel from Liverpool may play a part in that. So late to the party infact that we bumped into Hungry Hoss who told us it was his third visit!

The latest venture from the New Moon pub empire sees them trying their luck on the site of the former Crown pub on Fountain Street. The interior is warehouse wooden and reminded me of a smaller Manchester House complete with booths. The cocktails were well priced and Mrs Nom quickly eyed up a strawberry and mint martini at a shade under £6. 

Being a Sunday I felt like a roast so stuck with the set menu whilst also ordering from the main menu. Mrs Nom chose the ‘Blanc’, billed as fresh crab from the North Wales coast, pink grapefruit with coronation mayo. It was served in half a grapefruit peel like an orange sorbet dessert. The grapefruit we felt overwhelmed the crab due to its bitterness, we should of went for one of the planks which seem better value and more interesting.

I opted for the prawn and avocado salad as a light prelude to the roast which always leaves me full and stuffed to the brim no matter where it seems. Mrs Nom took a liking to the salad and soon swapped with her crab whilst distracting me. The mains took a while to be served but my roast rump of beef with a big crisp Yorkshire was a proper hearty serving. The beef came pink as requested and exactly what I wanted for a roast, could of done with more gravy though but I didn’t ask.

Mrs Nom went for the highly praised Pudding, Beef & Barbon Fell venison suet pudding with horseradish paste, stockpot gravy mash and black peas. It was certainly a stonking big pudding, one of the biggest I had ever seen. I knew from the first bite that I would end up finishing it as there was no way Mrs Nom could stomach it along with the small molehill of mash that the pudding was sat on top of. The venison inside packed a strong pepper punch in places, flavoursome and a good crust to boot. Some parts of the venison was a little dry but it was saved by the rich gravy served with the mash.

I was struggling after one and a half mains but we decided to share the sticky toffee sundae from the Sunday menu between us. Perhaps due to a bit of miscommunication we were served a sticky toffee pudding from the main dessert menu but this was quickly sorted out as we watched our helpful waitress take a copy of the menu into the kitchen. Still being relatively new, it is expected that there will be some issues to iron out. But we were slightly disappointed when the sundae arrived. It seemed to be the same as the sticky toffee pudding but served in a sundae bowl without the sticky sauce! Oh well never mind.  All in all a decent new eatery for Manchester who are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out.

Beef and Pudding on Urbanspoon

Thursday 10 April 2014

Parkers Arms, Newton-in-Bowland

It has been a long time since the last post and an even longer time since we visited Parkers Arms back in January. It was a relaxing long drive from Manchester to Newton-in-Bowland over several hills, roundabouts and windy roads on a beautiful crisp Winters day. We were shown a very warm welcome by our host AJ as we escaped the bitter cold and were soon sipping on a latte to warm up.

The focus of the menu were the appetising game dishes and after ordering we were soon presented with some Tweet treats. These included cheese twists and crispy fried potato skins which kept us going after the long drive. We had seen Chef patron, Stosie Madi, tweet about the treats and were excited to receive them. 

For starters I chose the pepper venison loin salad with damsons and damson jelly. It was probably not the best choice for me as I had a cough at the time which was aggravated by the pepper. However the meaty venison was enjoyable and it gave me the opportunity to eat most of Mr Noms starter instead which was the signature crab and scallop parfait with scallop ceviche, soused fennel and cucumber and lemon jelly. The parfait was silky smooth and our high expectations were met since we had read so many glowing reviews of the restaurant in recent times.

I chose the partridge with apple, chestnut and excellent Parkers chips for my main and it was simply a delight. Although Mr Nom preferred his bone roasted ballotine of pheasant with creamed mash, pasty of leg pasty and cider gravy. We later found out that the pheasant dish was one of AJs favourite dishes, we commented that the mains were proper portions which tickled AJ. It was good to see quality local produce being showcased in hearty, sublime dishes.

Although being absolutely full to the brim, we couldn’t say no to dessert and went for the Valrhona melting chocolate pudding dessert.  This was preceded by a orange pre dessert. Struggling to finish the desserts we were also presented with petit fours to finish which included little mini chocolate fondants. Mr Nom was scared of chocolate fondants for a while after this over indulgence!

No one left Parkers Arms hungry was the quote from AJ and he wasn’t joking, I can’t remember a time when we had felt fuller. The drive home was eventful as we encountered a big sheep from the adjoining hills laying down on the road as we left, it strolled slowly out of the way and shown as if to tell us he was the boss of the area! If it was not so far from us I think we would be regulars at Parkers Arms, great local produce and hearty cooking.

Parkers Arms on Urbanspoon