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Restaurant review: Cafe Sports Express

There's more than one Jamie with a restaurant in Liverpool One. Fat Git gets Carra'd away

Published on October 18th 2010.


Restaurant review: Cafe Sports Express

THERE is nothing better than a lardon first thing in the morning.

Let me begin by telling you about mine.

Scattered over pancakes with maple syrup, they are a boss way to start the day. The salty and meaty meeting the sticky and sweet, mixed in with the buttermilk.

The walls of Cafe Sports Express are lit up by at least a dozen massive plasma tellies all switched on to Sky Sports. It's like being in Radio Rentals - but with garlic bread

I have been scoffing crepes aux lardons in a Paris café every morning this summer. Yes, I have been M.I.A.

Why? I have been busy humping a bunch of Thai lady-boys from Huyton about.

They got a season in a club over there and urgently needed someone to be their roadie.

At the time, things weren't going well with Pauline, the tart. Cameron was talking about testing people for incapacity benefit (I have been on it for 18 years) and so, finally, I allowed the lads from Bangkok-with-Roby to whisk me off.

I didn't have much choice. I threw over the long collar to a couple of fellers from Romania. They didn't speak much English, but neither do the pissheads you pick up in Mathew St. I knew they'd be OK driving the Fairway around Liverpool. These Eastern European drivers like to rank together.

Anyway, after three months of fine dining, where even a plate of poulet frites in a Marais transport caff is served as if the owner's life depended on it, I'm back in Liverpool. Home of the footy, the Fabs, the cabs and the flabs.

It's all gone tits up at Anfield, and there are even more John Lennon statues than when I left. Like that episode of the Whispering Angels in Doctor Who. Don't blink or they will surround you.

Pauline is demanding I spend all the euros I earned from the trip on her, with some “retail therapy” in Liverpool One.

Primark, Evans, Debenhams, and Gap - my favourite because the XXL boxies mind my gaps, and no chafing.

Now for some scran – and that means Cafe Sports Express.

This is Jamie Carragher's gaff. A bloke who has had much to clench his buttocks about lately, as have all his team-mates and their birds who might have found themselves joining the queue with me and Pauline in Primark if the club had gone into admin.

The first thing you notice at Cafe Sports Express, after the waitress clears the crumbs from the stainless steel table she has just seated us at, is the USP.

Carra, a proper decent player from round here, espouses a diet for life. On the menu is a Heart of Mersey logo“encouraging healthier eating for all”.

You can't miss it, it's right under “World Famous Chip Butty, £3.50”.

The way to a man's heart is through his arteries and, to give them their due here, the breakfasts appear to be in no hurry to reach the back of that net: lean bacon, super muesli and porridge, Jamie's “training day special”, with no sugar, just honey.

Even humble Baked Beans on Toast get a showing, which for the benefit of any non-English visitors, and there may be many in this prime location opposite the Hilton, demand being described as “a true tasty classic”.

The walls of Cafe Sports Express are lit up by at least a dozen massive plasma tellies all switched on to Sky Sports. It's like being in Radio Rentals - but with garlic bread.

Carra's people believe this styling to be what people want from “a good family restaurant, where we can relax” and you can read the very quote right here on the considerable menu of tapas, pastas and steaks and flatbreads.

I am reading out the bit about lower fat options when the marinated olives arrive (£2.95), with two pats of butter. There is little evidence of the marinade, or any discernible flavour. They are pitted and a bit mushy, but you will probably think that's ok - just as you are likely to be impressed by the ubiquitous dish of balsamic in olive oil, and a couple of rounds of brittle Italian bread.

The Greek Salad (£4.50) is better. More of those olives, unfortunately, and lashings more balsamic, but plenty of crisp, crunchy leaves for it to swill around in, just two halves of a sweet, ripe tomato, and onion - red, of course.

There is plenty of feta though, rough and crumbled, like Hicks' and Gillett's relationship with RBS. If I wanted to eat healthily - and I don't - I would be on this like the ton of bricks which I weigh, every day.

Spicy Italian Meatballs (£4.95) are the best thing about the meal - almost. Big, meaty and firm, like Dirk Kuyt, they are served in a fresh, deep lake of tomato sauce, as vivid a crimson as the Kop.

I said almost. If you don't like watching Sky Sports, there is plenty of other eye candy. The girls employed here are all fit and young. Rays of scouse sunshine. WAGs in waiting, in every sense.

One beauty, working front of house, stares dreamily into the clouds outside, a skill every high-earning Premier League goalkeeper is well versed with. “Some day my prince will come,” she is no doubt thinking. Right on cue, Phil Thompson strolls in.

As in midlife, just after the first half, things begin to go flaccid.

Pauline's Mixed Steak and Chicken Kebab (£7.50) is advertised as “succulent” from being marinated in garlic, coriander, paprika and olive oil. No so, she says. Rather than flaccid, she finds the beef so hard going “I could knock someone out with it, if I could get it off the skewer”.

But when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and, after Pauline necks most of bottle of Chilean sauvignon blanc (£12.95) she sways off to the toilets to try her three new jumpsuits on. I demand vinegar and make short work of her chips, which are on the bright side of nothing remarkable.

An Aberdeen Angus Burger (£7.50) is “served in a ciabatta bun, fresh onion relish, beef, tomato, red onion rings, lettuce, blah, blah” and you are instructed to “ask your server for a selection of sauces”.

“Got the ketchup?” I ask a vision floating by. If she behaves herself I will give her a big tip.

I don't know about footballers on match-day or any other time, but I would need six of these burgers to penetrate up the middle. It is small and thin. It might as well be from Iceland as Aberdeen for all the flavour it has. It is rather dry and the accompaniments are scant, doing little to get the juices flowing.

Nevertheless, it does not touch the sides.

Like most of the Anfield squad, desserts are bought in. The cheesecake (£4.75) has the consistency of latex; the fruity topping, red, yet again, is reminiscent only of Calpol.

Apple pie (“do you want it warming up”), is thick and stodgy of crust and lean of filling (£4.45). It comes with ice cream - the best thing about it - AND a huge slush of squirty cream from a can. Together the desserts are a nil-nil draw.

Time to leave the new crumbs on the table, and head for the flip-flop sale at Deichman.

“Got the bill?” I ask another gorgeous pouting princess as I stagger to my swollen feet.

I bet she could go for 90 minutes.


Rating: 10/20
Breakdown: 5/10 food
3/5 service
2/5 ambience
Address: Cafe Sports Express
Liverpool One
6 Thomas Steers Way
Liverpool
L1 8AW
Tel: 0151 706 7440

Liverpool Confidential reviewers dine unannounced and pick up their own bills. Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 Just too marvellous.

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

phil mccrackenOctober 14th 2010.

Mr Git, welcome back. You have been missed

Alfie189564October 15th 2010.

Lol!

WAGOctober 15th 2010.

Mr Git, do you know eleven different positions, and what formation works best for you?

Queny EyeOctober 15th 2010.

Git, I am pretty sure you had me offside once. I had left my money at home and it was your suggestion.

You didn't last for 90 minutes however and there was no substitute.

AnonymousNovember 30th 2010.

Recently had a burger from here that was pretty poor, bought in burger that was quite solid and tasteless.

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