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You are here: Liverpool ConfidentialFood & DrinkBest Of Three.

Best of three – Scouse

The much underrated signature dish is enjoying a comeback at last, but you still can't get it in as many places as you should. So how do the three we could find measure up?

Published on November 11th 2008.

Best of three – Scouse

Brought to Liverpool by Scandinavian sailors and originally called Labskause, scouse is the signature dish of the city and now, after years in the doldrums, is enjoying a renaissance. The Malmaison can't make enough of it and it is available in tins for the first time ever.

Not to be in any way confused with Irish stew or Lancashire hotpot, scouse is as unique as the person cooking it. There is no definitive recipe: some people use leftover beef or lamb from a Sunday roast, others swear by fresh cubed meat of either persuasion or a combination of both. Other essentials are onions, carrots and spuds, with beetroot or pickled red cabbage on the side and lots of crusty bread with butter. No two bowls taste the same.

Maggie May's (90 Bold Street, L1). £3.95
(0151 227 4878)
What's the beef?

This is piping hot beef version of the dish is probably the most authentic in terms of texture and comfort appeal. And yet... It is soothing and rich, thickened by the breakdown of floury potatoes and cornflour and there are plenty of vegetables in evidence but not a vast amount of meat. Comes with just a spoon.
A bit on the side?
Maggie May's serves up crinkled slices of pickled beets from a jar with three baguette rings and two pats of Anchor butter.

Bowled over?
So enthusiastic are they about scouse in Maggie May's that they've started selling their own brand in cans (£1.25). Scouse is nowhere on the menu. Just ask for it and they'll get the tin opener out. Nevertheless it's quite delicious.
7/10. Does what it says on the tin.

Thomas Rigby's (Dale Street, L2). £7.25
What's the beef?
Tender, tasty chunks of lamb accompany the usual vegetables in a rich, dark gravy. It's warming, very tasty and just the thing for a freezing cold summer's day.
A bit on the side?
Rigby's scouse comes with fresh red cabbage and crusty bread. They also, rather impressively, recommend the perfect beer to accompany the dish ¬ in this case, Budvar Dark.
Bowled over?
Not exactly cheap, but a deeply satisfying lunch, enhanced by the pub's very attractive interior and warm friendly welcome.
8/10. Dark and handsome.

WINNER! Malmaison (William Jessop Way, L3). £10.95 What's the beef? Lamb again actually “This is the way my mum and my nan made scouse” says sous chef Andy Wright. Did Mrs Wright employ red wine and garlic? Who knows? But her lad does and the result scores top marks for intensity of flavour with plenty of meat weighing the balance against potato content, if that's what you like. Along with the vegetables, it all sits in a deep earthenware bowl in a tasty, rich stock.

A bit on the side? Posh scouse deserves posh accompaniments and here we have diced beet which is braised in red wine rosemary and thyme before being “pickled” for just five minutes in a bath of white wine vinegar. Mild, sweet and perfect for chucking into your stew to watch the colour change. Thick slices of fresh crusty bread cut on the diagonal.

Bowled over?This scouse is so popular that the Malmaison can't take it off the menu. You won't stand your fork up in it, but it is hearty, filling and tasty and a great ambassador for a dish relegated to the odd Liverpool pub for far too long. The home made pickle dish swings it into first place.
9/10. Beet this.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

PaddyAugust 14th 2007.

Google "food programme scouse" and you get a recipe for Tom Gill's "scouse and red cabbage" as served on occasion at The Everyman Bistro. This without doubt would be the ultimate scouse.

Gerry JonesAugust 14th 2007.

Maggie May's for me, with the Catholic Cathedral a close second. BUT none of them offer LIVERPOOL TARTS to follow. Try Liverpool Tarts in Google.

Martyn BestAugust 14th 2007.

Good of you to highlight this wonderful dish - also try out the outstanding scouse in the great surroundings of Ma Boyles Oyster Bar, one of Liverpools oldest and leading pubs. It's comparable to the well chosen mal maison, but somewhat different. Well worth a visit. kind regards, Martyn.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Joe49October 4th 2014.

Ma Boyles is hardly 'one of Liverpool's oldest and leading pubs'. The original Ma Boyles on Old Hall street could definitely be called that but it was, tragically, demolished circa 1973/4 and replaced by a crude office building (whose architect was also responsible for the new building for which the Sailors' Home was demolished - the new building was in the end not built)

Vernon MealorAugust 14th 2007.

As an exiled Scouser I appreciated your article. Maggie May's phone no. was incorrect, however. It should http://be:709 7600. We're ordering a few tins tomorrow!

George RichmondAugust 14th 2007.

Hi, I live in Cambridge, can I purchase Maggie Maye's tins of scouse in this part of the world.???.Regards.George

ntAugust 14th 2007.

The Dragon Bar on Renshaw Street (by the bombed-out church) have a *free* comedy night on a Tuesday. There I had fantastic scouse, with beetroot (if you want) and crusty bread, for just £3.50.I'm going tonight just for that!

David JonesOctober 22nd 2013.

I used to have a mate who made a startling confession in the pub the other day. 'I put loads of garlic in me scouse.' he said. A shocked silence ran around the pub as the assembled company tried to take this in. GARLIC in scouse! The dirty blighter. General consensus was that it's a good job his poor old mam wasn't around to witness the disgrace he brought upon the scouse community, his family and most of all himself. I reckon he watches too many foreign films and has been corrupted.

Trish BettsSeptember 14th 2014.

Malmaison served best scouse ,would even go as far as saying better than my nan,s, returned June 2014 chef had left no scouse on menu,,,,, where did chef go.

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