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Warehouse Kitchen and Bar review

Neil McQuillian looks for fever pitch at Steven Gerrard's gaff

Published on April 20th 2011.


Warehouse Kitchen and Bar review


CHECK out this sentence fragment from The Warehouse’s website: "Weather its Southport chowder"....

It turned out that the misspelling – get your head down and see it out – was brilliantly spot on.

20110419warehousekitchen+bar16.jpgOf course, co-owner Steven Gerrard and all in the football world know the perils of being taken out of context, so here’s the unabridged version: "Weather its Southport chowder or Shanghai chicken noodles, dedication to using local produce wherever possible coupled with an extensive wine & champagne list and great service ensures diners return time after time."

That "wherever possible" would prove pertinent, too, but there’s little doubt that The Warehouse Kitchen + Bar (formerly Warehouse Brasserie – don’t reinventions usually drop the definite article?) has a certain magnetism that pulls in the punters whatever the whether: it was two thirds full this Tuesday evening.

The "uber-cool" WK+B is on a back street whose air of edginess suits the smart, simple exterior of this warehouse restoration.

Another starter of chilli salt squid...was freshly fried but that was about all it had going for it, possessing as much oomph as a fish finger

 

Go around the corner and you’re surrounded by ice cream parlour-type places and one nick-nack shop with royal wedding shortbread in its window display (the forthcoming one, though there are doubtless dusty corners in the outer reaches of town stacked high with similar offerings, Best Before: Dec 81).

The plain graphic of the venue’s sign, the modern wood panelling of the entrance door and the black paint combine to produce a certain Urban Splash-esque effect, reminiscent of the days when city centre living in renovated industrial buildings had a daring quality.

20110419warehousekitchen+bar07.jpgStep inside, however, and the focus of the décor is shifted towards a kind of opulence: white tablecloths, nodules of chandeliers, sexy chiffon partition curtains and elegantly stained mirrors casting flattering reflections (not that Alex and Coleen need any flattering, you understand).

The colourings are well matched, like some sort of luxurious undergrowth, while the Peter Blake-ish collages on the walls are effective centres of detail. The bar upstairs (empty the night we visited) is similarly styled with a bit of retro added for good measure: granny-style lamps and black and white images of a burlesque artiste.

A large screen, mounted at the top of the stairwell, is nicely positioned to distract you that one vital instant and send you tumbling. Overall, the interior may well clash with the view from the street but it’s cosy nonetheless.

20110419warehousekitchen+bar11.jpgThe restaurant offers a two/three course menu for £15.95/£18.95 (includes a glass of wine) but we were in no mood for this Arsenal-like noodling around on the edge of the box and got right into the a la carte mixer.

One starter rose head and shoulders above the others: "Southport chowder [with] brown shrimps, razor clams, mussels, home-made cracker and bacon" (£6.95). This was an exciting offering but we were cruelly let down.

Sometimes, on Southport beach, the sea is so far out it’s as if you’re trudging along a very flat, overcast desert. This dish was just as barren, with an odd assemblage of a thin, slightly stale cracker bridging the bowl with a blackened piece of bacon, like a bit of Lindow Man, dangling in suspension between it and the soup, its charred toe just breaking the surface of the gloop.

The flavour of the soup body was redolent of something crumbly having been made liquid. There were, to be fair, brown shrimp and mussels but not a razor clam in sight, which are hardly shy-and-retiring bits of seafood; even when they go into hiding they fart up little squirts of sand at you. They’re a big, meaty challenge from catching to eating and that’s why you love them. Moreover, in certain restaurants you’ll pay £6.95 for a few of these fellas alone. How the kitchen thought they could send out this bowl without them is hard to fathom, and at worst it implies arrogance.

20110419warehousekitchen+bar12.jpgAnother starter of chilli salt squid (£5.95) was attractively presented, squatting in its origami newspaper wrapper like a big yellow tarantula. It was freshly fried but that was about all it had going for it, possessing as much oomph as a fish finger, accompanied by molten MSG dipping sauce and one pointless slice of red chilli. It was slight and confused and the best that could be said was that it went nicely with the last of the beer.

A ribeye with bearnaise sauce (£19.95) wasn’t the best looking 10oz of flesh but gave great flavour, and the tarragon-rich sauce made very merry with both meat and ‘East West spiced chunky chips’ (£2.95) from the ‘Accessories’ section of the menu. These turned out to be tasty morsels spiked liberally with Chinese five spice, meaning that this plateful saw a rare marrying of tarragon and five spice.

But then it was starting to seem that The Warehouse’s restaurant isn’t strong on subtlety and really about delivering flavour hits (like ‘a succession of well-aimed uppercut punches delivered with the style and speed of a professional boxer’, say).

20110419warehousekitchen+bar14.jpgThe "burger Italiano, salami, mozzarella with fennel slaw, parmesan and rosemary crusted French fries" (£12.95) was a success, albeit slightly odd, with the added bonus that it didn’t need "accessorising".

A shared dessert of ‘egg custard tart [with] baked Yorkshire rhubarb crumble’ (£5.95) was pleasingly rich about the custard, and the rhubarb and crumble were decent, but it was rather old-seeming in the pastry layer.

To the wine list. Among the "red heads" and "blondes" (that is, white wine), there are three house choices starting at £4.25/£16.00 by the
glass/bottle. The La Celia Malbec at £25.5
0 was worth stretching the budget for. ‘Special ones’ run £70-£600 for a Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 2002, Pauillac.  Fourteen"Bubbles" run from £5.50/£25.00 for a glass/bottle of Brut Zero Cava, up to £500 for a Louis Roederer Cristal Brut 1996 Rose. Pudding wines are offered from £4.95/£21.95 for a glass/bottle.

The Estrella lager we started with came in champagne-worthy half-pint flutes, and that image of sophisticated unsophistication is one that rather sums this place up.

20110419warehousekitchen+bar08.jpgOn the evening we were there at least, the most successful flavours were the robust, route one moments, even if the surroundings were elegant and the presentation occasionally fussy. The chowder and the squid could both have been gobsmacking platefuls of flavour, but fell well short.

You’ll not have much to do in the dressing room between now and the end of the season, Steven, so get in the kitchen and start throwing a few teacups around, please.

Rating:

14/20

Breakdown:

6/10 food
4.5/5 service
3.5/5 ambience

Address:

Warehouse Kitchen + Bar

30 West Street
Southport
PR8 1QN
Tel: 01704 544662

Liverpool Confidential reviewers dine unannouced and the company picks up the 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 Perfect

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Latest Rants

Phillip Lawler

I will visit this place once the management and staff have got their act in order.

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seaman staines

Well they say that 'love comes in spurts...'

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Anonymous

Just like the swingers room

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John Bradley

This is a menu for Laconia in 1938, it doesn't look that great.…

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