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Restaurant review: New Everyman Bistro

AA Grill is so browned off he wants to whip himself with a garden cane

Written by . Published on May 2nd 2014.

Restaurant review: New Everyman Bistro

WITH every Tripadvisor review, my trepidation grew; 10 of the first 17 in the “terrible” category, could that even be some kind of record?

So it was that with an open mind but a sinking heart I found myself at the Everyman Bistro, not to be confused with the, er, Everyman Bistro.

This was essentially an awful lot of cauliflower. And I mean awful. Cold, hard and drab, it was, a fellow diner observed, 'like permanent Lent'

And here resides the immediate problem. You could never confuse the old bistro with its replacement in the basement, but by retaining the name you inevitably invite comparisons. And these, by and large, have been negative: “dreams crushed”, “shocking”, “left in disgust,” “don't call me matey”. They are not all damning, just most of them.

It didn't help that as the closure of the beloved Paddy Byrne/David Scott venue caused a city-wide spike in tissue sales, there was much rash talk of recreating the “spirit” of the original.

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %2819%29

But words like “spirit” struggle for life in the world of redevelopment programmes.

Everyman Food and Beverage Director Tom Lang may well be a good chap with good intentions but he is without overall control of the new bistro; that privilege went to BaxterStorey, “the UK's leading independent corporate restaurateur”, and, as everybody knows, “corporate” is code for a company that has sold its soul to the devil in exchange for a licence to destroy humanity.

I have no axe to grind here; mine was no 40-year love affair, me and the old bistro were more on nodding terms. Besides, nothing lasts forever, the place was, arguably, on the wane, and, for the most part, the rebuilding of the Everyman looks like a pretty nice job.

But I know this much: the spirit of the bistro, like all such places, was in all of it –  the marks on the tables,  the fellow feeling, the disastrous dates, the mates, the hipsters and shysters and Jagermeisters, the rubbish toilets – and it's gone now, a lot of it in skips, and you can't resurrect it by giving it the same name and the same location.

Actually, it's not the same location; like the new Cavern Club, which occupies an adjacent subterranean space to the one of legend and the Beatles, the new bistro is separated from the old by a wall, the salads that shook the world but a ghostly memory therein.  

They should have held their nerve – easy for me to say, I know – and just moved on. And now that failure of nerve has become the excuse: “people don't like change”. But if the new bistro's only problem was that it wasn't the old bistro all would, eventually, be right. Unfortunately, on our visit, the inadequacies went deeper than that.

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %287%29Chilli with chocolate

In spite of the lights that cover the ceiling, hanging high and low, brightly and dimly, according, it is said, to “diners' moods”, the dominant tone is brown. It's everywhere: the walls, the brickwork, the bar, the menus, the pepper pot, the little clipboards for the menus. Brown is just the thing in Delamere Forest; down here it only adds to the sense of being interred.

Banquettes (brown) line the walls while tables and chairs (brown) look like they were put out for a BaxterStorey training course.

A portion of that Tripadvisor criticism was reserved for the service but, in the main, ours was smiley and helpful. There may be confusion here; you order at the counter and they bring it over but this is not at all clear when you arrive.

The menu is designed, it says here, to “nourish body and soul”: sharing boards, daily specials, salads, and a dozen or so regular dishes – meat, fish and vegetarian – mostly available as “small and big plates”. Some are “ready in 15 minutes” for those who have an eye on the notional curtain in the main house.

Actually, the small plates are pretty generous, though, as it turns out, this is not necessarily a good thing.

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %2812%29

Shetland mussels and chorizo in a white wine sauce (small £7.50/big £10.50) arrived tepid: mediocre mussels heaped on to a shallow (no danger of drowning) pool of liquor and served with bread fit only for making crumbs.

“Chunky” shin of beef chilli with chocolate and “chunky” bread (small £6.50/big £9.50) was an unexceptional stew which made the fatal error of using sweet chocolate, an absolute no-no for chilli. The surprising addition of onion rings was by far the best thing about the dish.

An 8oz “local” beef burger (£8.50, add bacon/Monterey Jack cheese/avocado for £1 extra) was served in a “freshly baked” ciabatta bun, the bottom half soggy, the top rock hard, with a ball of meat that tasted of nothing.

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %2813%29

The six chips that came with it were bang on, the highlight of our night no less: probably parboiled, they achieved the ideal of fluffy, flavourful inner and crisp, perfectly dry outer. Whoever's in charge of the deep fat fryer needs a pay rise.

From the sides (all £3), cheesy mash with roasted garlic had no discernible trace of garlic. Sauteed spinach was an improvement, but it takes a special skill to mess that up.

Wild mushroom and Ashcroft leek (whatever that is) pie with poached egg and chive cream (£8.95) was a good idea spoiled by the detail. A loose-fitting puff pastry lid, flimsy and bland, was a last minute addition and had no opportunity to take on the character of the rest.

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %2811%29

Of the filling, the mushrooms were very good, the egg just so, and other assorted vegetables fine, but someone had decided the best way to add depth to the dish was with a big dollop of Dijon mustard. Which says a lot about the attitude of restaurants towards vegetarians.

But not nearly as much as the spiced cauliflower, harissa, pomegranate yoghurt and black sesame seed (small £5.50/big £8.50) does. The low point of the meal, this was grim fare, the red and black seeds doing nothing to disguise the fact that this was essentially an awful lot of cauliflower. And I mean awful. Cold, hard and drab, it was, a fellow diner observed, “like permanent Lent”.

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %2810%29Cauliflower harissa, pomegranate yoghurt and black sesame seed

Indeed, if it does “nourish the soul”, it is in the same way that whipping yourself with a garden cane does (unless you like that sort of thing).

Puddings (£4.95) were better: rhubarb and ginger crumble with “proper” custard, was a little short on crumble, but warm chocolate brownie with Cheshire clotted cream felt like compensation for surviving the folly of the cauli.

We are told that an award-winning local restaurateur applied to run the bistro but did not receive the courtesy of a reply. Time to pick up the phone and grovel.

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %2820%29

All scored Confidential reviews are paid for by the company, never the restaurant or a PR company, and critics dine unannounced.

Everyman Bistro
13 Hope Street
L1 9BH
T: 0151 708 3700

Rating: 10/20 

4/10 food
4/5 service
2/5 ambience

New Everyman Theatre Bistro %2817%29
Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against other cafes etc. Following on from this the scores represent: 

1-5:      Straight in the dog bowl
6-9:      Get to the chippy 
10-11:  In 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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43 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Paul WardMay 2nd 2014.

Excellent review. "Ashcroft" is a fine old name in veg growing, by the way. www.freshviewfoods.co.uk/growers-producers.php…

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 2nd 2014.


David JonesMay 2nd 2014.

I have been to the Bistro four or five times since it opened but never eaten there. I did consider it once and I seem to recall there were oysters on the menu so my friends and I moved on somewhere more suited to our plebeian tastes. The beer is ok I suppose, but the ambiance! Last time I was there was with en route to a CAMRA meeting in the Phil (pub) and was accompanied by a fellow CAMRA member on his first visit. He was appalled. I did point out that the original bricks were still there, just repositioned. ‘The bricks may be there’, was his reply, ‘but where are the students, the poets, the dreamers, the atmosphere?’ The final straw was when he spotted a couple in an alcove with a bottle of wine in an ice bucket! I told him that I was doing my best to recreate the old Bistro by spilling beer on the bar floor and spraying ‘water’ about in the Gents but it was an uphill task for one man. The Bistro has sold its soul to big business I fear.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Local LadMay 3rd 2014.

You can't even buy proper Guinness, just the extra-cold stuff. Everything else is lager.

Huge TeaMay 4th 2014.

When I went in March, they had several real ales on. Have they gone? If so, makes going there even more pointless. Roll on Paddy next door!

GordoMay 2nd 2014.

Oh dear

Ramsey CampbellMay 2nd 2014.

I am afraid this looks relevant: www.headforpoints.com/…/…

Brian SobeyMay 2nd 2014.

David Jones said: "there were oysters on the menu so my friends and I moved on somewhere more suited to our plebeian tastes" Do you think oysters are posh or summat David? That's sad - like saying people who drink real ale are boring pseuds. Sad though that the new Bistro is so universally disliked. What's wrong with rough and ready? Haven't been there but it looks sterile from the photos. But if the food had been good I would have made a visit, not now though - when is Paddy opening his new place?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Duke OrsinoMay 3rd 2014.

It’s not rough and ready - it is carefully and calculatedly awful! We went with chums and children and it wasn’t as bad as we thought from the Trip Advisor reviews. Having children with us and inspired by the cutlery kept in open jam jars on the tables, we adopted the attitude that it was chain-pub grub and chose the food accordingly. Consequently we weren’t too disappointed with bangers and mash, hamburgers and chips etc. though as such food in pubs goes it was pricy. The staff were charming, accommodating and very courteous (I wonder how many of them suffer headaches because of the terrible lighting?) but they couldn’t help the poor choice of draught beer, the microscopic print on the menu that was hard to read in the poor light and the narrow selection of dishes on it. Incidentally, the photograph accompanying this article makes the place look rather brighter and more evenly-lit than it actually is. It is like camping out in a brick cellar lit by bare bulbs; which is what it is.

Ann Onny MouseMay 4th 2014.

I don't think that David J left because he thought oysters were too posh - my granny used to eat oysters and she wasn't posh at all! I think it's more likely that having 'Oysters' on the menu equalled pretentiousness - and if that is the case nothing more needed to be said. Having said that. It is very sad that the 'new' Bistro is so disliked, but they've only got themselves to blame.

ShellMay 17th 2014.

Oysters are traditionally plebeian fare near the coast all over the country. The idea that they were somehow for posh people only was a mid-twentieth century aberration.

Sandra HarrisonMay 2nd 2014.

So sad...

Elaine FriendMay 2nd 2014.

Well we were going to give the new Bistro a try on our next trip to the Everyman BUT... think we'll be giving it a miss! Back to Ego it is!

SaladDazeMay 2nd 2014.

Oh dear! Yes, I was hoping that award-winning local restaurateur might get a look in. I've been once. Service was outstanding but what's the point of merely 'telling the chef' that I only had one measly piece of chorizo with my mussels. I only had one measly piece of chorizo with my mussels. What a shame when the rest of the place is so damn fine. Meanwhile, in the BA lounge... baloungefood.com/…

SaladDazeMay 2nd 2014.

PS Will they break through the wall into The Annexe if anyone decent moves in there?

Huge TeaMay 2nd 2014.

There is no sense of identity or place at all. Nothing which relates the Everyman to Liverpool, or the Ev’s history either as a physical place or as a virtual and massively important place in the development of 20th century theatre. There’s masses of stuff they could exploit but no pictures, no playbills, nothing. This design really could have been, and perhaps was, designed for an airport somewhere like Chicago or Berlin or Singapore and simply dropped into a suitable hole in the ground. The only relieving and passably interesting feature is the lights. There are numerous suspended lamps whose height is adjusted by cords run round pulleys hanging from brass clockweights along the walls. You can’t miss them as they run right around the room and are the only thing of interest. I refer you to that fount of all knowledge, The Viz Profanisaurus, whose definition of ‘clockweights’ is something along the lines of ‘the contents of a gentleman’s nutsack.’ Clockweights. Says it all really.

Arthur AdamsMay 2nd 2014.

Well that made sad reading. Hopefully, the productions at the Everyman will be of the same calibre as the Everyman of old.

N. TombedMay 3rd 2014.

It simply isn’t THE ‘Everyman Bistro’ but even before the comparisons begin this place is in trouble. The bare brick cellar is gloomy and cheerless, like somewhere the Stasi would have taken prisoners to torture or kill them. The lights manage to dazzle without adequately illuminating anything. They would be vastly improved with well-chosen shades. The current arrangement, a flat, CD-like mirrored glass disc surround on each pendant, does nothing except collect fingerprints from desperately uncomfortable people trying to avoid a headache from eye-strain who have fumbled with these poorly-designed lights. This is particularly sad because much is made of the design of the new building. Speaking of which, on the plus side there is a lift for disabled customers but it struck me as my eyes struggled to pierce the gloom, that there appeared to be a step or two up to the disabled toilet! Was I mistaken in the Stygian murk? I hope so.

AnonymousMay 3rd 2014.

I have been in more cheerful ammunition bunkers

M. PererorsnewclothesMay 3rd 2014.

Too much design and not enough thought has gone into this place.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Local LadMay 3rd 2014.

'Dezoyne' more like!

John BradleyMay 3rd 2014.

and by the sound of it the food.

AnonymousMay 3rd 2014.

Just goes to show, you can't buy a soul.

Sir Howard WayMay 3rd 2014.

Hear hear Mr. Grill! A splendid review.

AnonymousMay 5th 2014.

Surely the council will see fit to demolish this place now. Maybe they could build a Home Bargains there instead. South Liverpool needs more culture. The Casa can go as well while they're at it, but not the Philharmonic Hall, that would make for an excellent Bingo Hall

1 Response: Reply To This...
Sir Howard WayMay 5th 2014.

I thought the last of the bingo halls went out of business when the smoking ban came in?

mickeydrippin'May 5th 2014.

The guys who ran the original Everyman Bistro are supposedly opening "Sustenance" in the basement of the annex. Does anyone know when it will open because, hopefully, it will knock spots off the new Bistro.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 5th 2014.

All the info is here. Apparently this September www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/…/Second-coming-of-Paddy-Byrnes-Everyman-Bistro…

AnonymousMay 6th 2014.

It's like a place where they would store the bodies of dead children after a terrible disaster!

AnonymousMay 6th 2014.

Yes, I didn't sleep for a month after I went there, and all my hair fell out! I only popped in to use the toilet.

AnonymousMay 6th 2014.

I asked one of the staff for a glass of port and they attacked me with a frozen seal.

John BradleyMay 6th 2014.

I walked past it last night and I felt a chill run through my bones, just think about what it is like inside.

AnonymousMay 7th 2014.

They assured me that the frozen seal attack was a a one off moment of madness...an abberation if you will. Now I see they have previous.

AnonymousMay 7th 2014.

My nephew went there with his fiancee not long after it opened. He said that the service was pretty dire. She ordered a vegetarian dish, which had ham in it!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 7th 2014.

She's lucky! On further inspection, my Garden Salad revealed a live wild boar!

John BradleyMay 7th 2014.

Did you not read the menu? All meat is kill and grill.

AnonymousMay 7th 2014.

Just looking at the picture of the new Bistro, one would expect Cody Jarret to suddenly stand up, throw his dinner around and go berserk after being told Ma is dead.

John BradleyMay 7th 2014.

The are organising a saturday night EuroVision Marathon banquet followed by a flight from LJL to Dignitas.

ShellMay 17th 2014.

Popped in for a late drink on Light Night. On the plus side the concealed lighting was switched on so night vision goggles were unnecessary, but there was tinnitus-inducingly loud music blasting out of what sound like huge loudspeakers above the fabric ceiling. And it was all 1970s suburban wedding-disco music; Glen Campbell, the Beach Boys, etc. Sitting at our table we shouted ourselves hoarse trying to converse. We only stayed for one.

AnonymousJune 27th 2014.

It wasn't that bad. But it wasn't great either. And they seemed to have a very limited stock of drinks

Fred West's CellarAugust 5th 2014.

They've buggered up the Bluecoat, they've buggered up the Everyman Bistro; what well-loved Liverpool institution are they going to destroy next?

AnonymousOctober 16th 2014.


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