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Food and drink round up (22/03/11)

Farewell Oddbins; Spring at 60 Hope St; Italian Club gets bigger and Marco Pierre White

Published on March 24th 2011.

Food and drink round up (22/03/11)

Cork screwed
IT was synonymous with city centre and L8 living before the word “lifestyle” took on yuppie connotations. It was an essential part of shopping on Bold Street. It was the only tangible place for accessible, interesting wine. Now, after 28 years, it is no more.

Oddbins has gone forever, from here and from Castle Street. For the former it's another nail in the coffin, say hacked-off traders, for Liverpool's only remaining shopping strip with a real individual heart.

Last night, the warm Aladdin's Cave of fine booze was being dusted off, clinked and catalogued into boxes and taken away. The bespoke shelves were empty. The glass refrigerators were dark and the wind blew in the wrong kind of chill.

Staff - loyal, knowledgeable and some serving more than a decade – are gutted. Many, it is reported, have been left wondering where their next mortgage payment is coming from after being handed just a week's notice. No holiday pay, no severance. No time to say goodbye to friends, customers or neighbours like the Mattas next door, says Chris, pictured, top, who has been there 10 years and is part of the fabric of the street.

The Allerton Road branch remains, but 39 of 128 shops were closed just over a week ago, with the company running up massive debts amid accusations that it couldn’t afford to pay its suppliers. It’s entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement to try to trade its way out of choppy waters, but owes millions.

Employees in Liverpool say high business rates in the city centre put it in the firing line for closure.

Owner Simon Baile says his rescue plan for the ailing brand is to strip back to what he calls “core Oddbins” – mainly city-centre shops in locations where the demographic is richer, population density is high and foot traffic heavy.

Not like Bold Street or Castle Street then.

Kreme de la Kreme
Krispy Kreme Doughuts are opening an outlet in Liverpool One.

Now, while we don't normally get much excited about international franchises coming to town, especially ones that have no regard for correct spelling, this lot drugged us by sending 24 of their best doughnut jobs to the office last week.

Krispy Kreme's delicious products have been compared to crack cocaine, such are their addictive properties.

We were KK virgins on Friday, but on Saturday we saw the sun rise as a man.

KKs have been available in various Tesco's in the city. Now they are getting their own stall, oh, we don't know where exactly in Liverpool One, but keep wandering. It'll pipe up somewhere.

60 and over
Confidential turned up at 60 Hope St last Friday for dinner. A walk-in. If anyone was in any doubt about a city's ability to go out and spend good money in restaurants when the place is meant to be on the brink of a financial abyss, do not worry. There was no room at any inn.

Spotting empty chairs, our operatives attempted to secure a table first at The Monro - where the refusal was flat and abrupt and sweeping – to Puschka, where staff were apologetic, but not servile, explaining the sittings procedure, before telling our anonymous taster to 'op it.

Nor could the London Carriageworks accommodate us, but 60 could. Its Bistro, where we had wanted to eat, was not serving, so were were ushered upstairs where a tiny table was found in a hugely busy room.

We treated ourselves to their spring offer menu. Three courses for £25.95 – with which you get a half bottle of not-bad vino.

We will be comparing a few of these special deal menus in the next few weeks and will see where 60 stands.

Stands? Thanks for the seat.

In the Club
While bits of Bold St close down, Oddbins and now butty bar Scoffs, other girths expand. Yums is spreading into defunct Indian Asha next door, a wannabe Bar Burritto – Mexigo – has sprung up.

Now The Italian Club is to get much bigger. From later this month it will be almost doubling its size by knocking into the back.

As this is currently one of the most cramped restaurants in the city, we can look forward to loosening our belts.

They plan to serve pizzas and pasta. Oh, hang on, we can't.

Making his Marco
Marco Pierre White is sending a team of experts to Liverpool to find talented individuals who can run his city centre restaurant, it says here.

Liverpool’s Arena and Convention Centre will play host to the X Factor style auditions on Thursday 24 March.

Pierre White's people and a team from Hotel Indigo Liverpool will be interviewing candidates from midday and are looking for everything from room attendants, receptionists and porters to chefs and waiters.

Pierre White said: “It’s a great opportunity for individuals who have a passion for the food and hospitality industry. We’re looking for enthusiastic, local people who are interested in learning new skills and becoming the best at what they do.”

We look forward to seeing Pierre White's hands on the tools at this, another of his provincial city restaurants which people will undoubtedly flock to for the wonderful reputation that he and the Michelin-starred name attached to it implies.

Pigs might fly
When was the last time anyone invited you to a pork fest?

There is one taking place at the Malmaison on Thursday March 31 from 6pm-9pm.

It is billed as a Secret Dinner Party. “You've heard magnificent tales of our local legends, now come and see their produce in action. Thanks to our local butchers at Althams you'll feast on prime local British pork dishes, reared especially for us and served in style, with superstar wines to match.”

£35 for many courses and many wines, it's no wonder they nearly called this event “swine and dine” before someone thought it might be in poor taste, given the flu epidemic.

And so, Pork Fest....

To book, email events.liverpool@malmaison.com or call 0151 229 5000.

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

RHODAMarch 22nd 2011.

Sadly Bold Street has been on the skids for years. It used to have Virgin Records, BEA, Jaeger, Waring & Gillow, Stan Catchpole's Model World, Bona Pets, the Medici Gallery, King Kong, several arts and photographic dealers and numerous prestigious banks.

Look at it now.

Devout Beatles' fan and Cains loverMarch 22nd 2011.

I'm to hear that a branch of Oddbins has closed because I have never seen any Cains beer in any Oddbins shops so good riddance to em'

CAINMarch 22nd 2011.

I don't remember you...

Samuel Smith's Old Imperialist StoutMarch 22nd 2011.

He was always in Bargain Booze and St. Luke's Gardens, that's why.

Kris P. Kreme, Culture Company SupremoMarch 22nd 2011.

Holy cow!

Bob GeldofMarch 22nd 2011.

D'yer think we could run an appeal for people to send soap, shampoo and other toiletries to Mr. Pierre White?

He always looks a disgrace.

Bold Street BoulevardierMarch 23rd 2011.

Bold Street now looks like a suburban street in Wythenshawe that's fallen on hard times.

Kris P. Kreme, Culture Company SupremoMarch 23rd 2011.

Hot dawg!

Paradise SweetMarch 25th 2011.

North West Gas's Radiant House had yet to be vandalised, Cafe Tabac and Cafe Berlin were there at their best and Matta's had just moved there from Granby Street when Oddbins opened. It was Bold Street's modern heyday.

Nearby were Hazeldene books, Holmes Buildings, Shardean, Hilly's and 69A.

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