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Restaurant review: Home Canteen

When it's on, AA Grill finds fuel as solid as a G Plan sideboard

Written by . Published on February 1st 2013.


Restaurant review: Home Canteen



A RIGHT hullaballo greeted news that the inspirations behind much-lauded Liverpool restaurant Puschka and hip fashion store Microzine were moving in together.

The setting for a marriage of food, style and entrepreneurship was the glass palace in waiting at Beetham Plaza, down at the business end of town.

Home Canteen %281%29 %281024X768%29 

The successor to Simply Heathcotes would be called Home Canteen, which sounded like an attack of indecision at a marketing strategy meeting. Was it to be a home from home? Or more of an alternative works canteen? It couldn't be both. Could it?

More than once in my life I have had cause
to regret mixing red wine and a date;
happily, this was not one of them

Then we went and the “canteen” had been pared back to a supporting role; thus “Home: canteen & bar”. Whatever the case, upper or lower, this slight uncertainty of purpose continues indoors with “Home Comforts” on the menu but a drinks list presented on an office clipboard.

Upstairs, a private dining room (“our funky PDR”) hosts meetings and conferences with, at the head of the table, a chair resembling a throne, for the full Ego Ronay experience.

Jimmy Cauty Stamps Of Mass DestructionJimmy Cauty's Stamps
Of Mass Destruction
Downstairs, there is soft-glow lighting and padded upholstery to make you feel at home. Though not the home of the modern-day city-dweller, otherwise this vast dining space would feature a 65-inch plasma TV, assorted Pringles tubes, strewn artfully across the floor, and very little else.

This is more the home you might have had if you grew up in the 1970s. With its retro fabrics and vintage furniture, Home is a shrine to Schreiber, a teak temple, a G-Plan lover's G-spot.

Like Abba, we hated it then but love it now, in a nostalgic-but-knowing sort of way. And when co-owner Glen urged us, after a chat, to “eat your dinner before it gets cold”, was there just a hint of a post-modern ironic allusion to that era when our mums, not Pizza Express, made all our meals?

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All the while, this cosy reverie is quietly subverted by a Philippe Starck floor lamp in the shape of an AK-47, and a series of  pictures by KLF art agitator Jimmy Cauty, entitled Stamps of Mass Destruction and featuring our own dear Queen in a gas mask. That's what happened when Puschka and Microzine got married. It's crazy, but fun, though I couldn't help thinking those frames had just been waiting for a big enough wall.

When our amiable waiter arrived we wondered if they were taking the "just like home" thing a bit far with the old feeling-peckish-but-there's-sod-all-in-the-fridge routine. Every time he spoke, the menu got smaller: there's no more all day breakfast; there's no fish of the day because “none came”; toad in the hole is not toad in the hole anymore, but “good old bangers and mash”; and the burgers are not ready because the meat's “only just arrived”.

Home Canteen %283%29 %281024X768%29Blue cheesecake

Still, we were NOT going to go hungry. Garstang blue cheese cake (£6.50) was a well judged balance of flavours if, as it turned out, a rather heavyweight opening to a three course meal.

English picnic salad (£5.50, £9 as a main course) included a couple of old fashioned, thick slices of boiled ham, a soft poached egg, grilled beef tomato rings and an untidy, oversized jumble of lettuce that looked like a maniac had laid waste to the salad section at Sainsbury's with a machete in one hand and a vinaigrette in the other.

Pulled beef brisket hash (£10, main image, top) wasn't a hash at all, which wasn't necessarily a problem but it would have been nice to know. Instead, a pile of shredded beef, with a good loose-knit texture, and a stack of colcannon soaking up a generous red wine and date sauce. More than once in my life I have had cause to regret mixing red wine and a date; happily, this was not one of them. Carrots, sliced on the vertical, chargrilled al dente, and laid over the top, were just so.

Home Canteen Pork %281024X768%29Sunday dinner, on a Monday

Rolled stuffed pork (£14) was a well-cooked cut with brittle crackling, a lovely appley stuffing, and blackberries, which, despite sitting uneasily on the plate, got on famously with the meat once they were introduced. The meat, in two big slabs, was too much all at once, but it was nearly as good finished off, cold, the following day. 

For the most part crunchy, floury roast potatoes had among them a couple of blackened specimens, while kale came a little undercooked, but not as much as a side dish of cauliflower cheese (£2.95). All of which might have been down to distraction; our cover had been blown, our intentions correctly calculated, and you sensed a bout of nerves in the kitchen.

Home Canteen %2812%29 %281024X768%29 

Another side dish of chips (£2.95) ordered for research purposes only – no, really – were dry, crisp and reasurringly uneven.

Desserts came with forks we could have used to turn over the garden. Both hot chocolate pudding with sweet vanilla whipped cream (£5.50) and bramley apple, ginger and frangipan tart with vanilla semi fredo (£5.50), were very good, particularly the latter.

This is big, feed-you-up fare; the sort of meal you have when you don't know where the next one's coming from; the sort that may, in more than one sense, keep you going all day.

Home Canteen %2811%29 %281024X768%29

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. 
Critics dine unannounced and we picks up their bills - never the restaurant, never a PR company.

Rating:

13.5/20

Breakdown:

Food 6/10
Service 4/5 
Ambience 3.5/5

Address:

Home Canteen
25 The Strand,
Liverpool L2 0XL.
0151 227 1969



Home Canteen %2814%29 %281024X768%29
Venues are rated against the best 
examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, British restaurants against other British restaurants etc. Following on from this the scores represent: 

1-5:     Get a doggy bag - for the dog
6-9:     Get the chippy 
10-11: It's an emergency!
12-13: If you happen to be passing
14-15: Worth a trip out 
16-17: Very good to exceptional 
18-20: As good as it gets 


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AnonymousFebruary 3rd 2013.

My wife and I went here a weeknd ago. Undercooked veg too and several items unavailable. The lancashire hotpot was quite good, but not a first choice and not what we had been expecting in a restaurant that is styled so upmarket. Would have expected it in a pub.

AnonymousFebruary 5th 2013.

Enjoyed that. Thank you

1 Response: Reply To This...
Fussy FredFebruary 14th 2013.

Easily Pleased. . . . .

J MozFebruary 10th 2013.

Visited 21 January. Menu was still their Xmas one, but as reviewed, with several verbal changes. My starter came with pease pudding, but being served straight from a fridge, didn't help to get the "flavours going". Far too cold.
One side dish ordered with the mains, was completely forgotten.
Rolled pork was superb, bangers and mash only okay.
Don't think we'll be rushing back. The 40% off all food was a bonus.
Really enjoy Puschka, but their attempt at simple home cooking, needs a re-think.

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