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Restaurant review: On The Quarter front

Angie Sammons goes to Falkner Street's busy hub of meeting and eating to see what happens at night. So is it any good?

Written by . Published on January 14th 2010.

Restaurant review: On The Quarter front

LIVERPOOL is obsessed with quarters. Georgian quarters, Rope Walks quarters, Cavern quarters, commercial quarters, Met quarters, Independent quarters. All jostling for their fraction of city space, and not adding up to four.

The word is so overused now, that you don't see it. Which probably explains why I've never been excited enough to go for the full night time hit at The Quarter, the cheap eats place that everyone I know loves, on Falkner Street.

It's been there years, I see it in a different light by day when I meet people there, and, in its previous incarnation, was the equally loveable Number Seven cafe, owned by the Ainscough family along with several other establishments before they got rid of the lot to to open the Racquet Club.

Step in another restaurant family, the Mannings, from 60 Hope Street, to take the business off their hands, and a success story's second chapter was begun.

We went on Tuesday just gone, a night that sets most city centre restaurateurs' teeth on edge. “Nobody goes out midweek,” you hear them complain. Wrong. Everybody is in The Quarter.

“You can't have a table now, come back in half an hour,” said waitress Lottie, as she waved us out of the noisy room and up to the Belvedere.

We stumbled back in again, 45 minutes later. A place had been found amid the melee. Students huddling, yuppies harnessing the wi-fi. Julia Baird, John Lennon's sister, and a big table of people, including Beatles Story man Jerry Goldman, in the window having a party. You don't have to be poor to eat in here, but it helps.

For this is peasant food, of the Italian/Med variety, and the emphasis is no frills and low cost. Thus you get your £11.95 Panilonco sauvignon blanc poured into tumblers which may or may not have actually cost more than the stemmed glass which you may or may not have got in the real Italian peasant's trattoria. But that's not the point.

When it comes to olives (£1.99), this lot can rest on their laurels. These were excellent, sizeable specimens, a flavour deep and salty as the Med itself.

Meze (£5.95) consisted of generous servings of hummous, taramasalata, and tzatziki, and a delicious mixed bean affair. The hummous was practically as good as my own. Antony Worrall Thompson reckons anyone who makes their own hummous is a sad bastard, but at least mine (well, Delia's actually) has got the right amount of garlic, AND olive oil in it instead of supermarket sunflower, so get lost AWT.

The star, however, was the misshapen garlic pizza base for tearing into and dipping into. We should have got two.

People rave about the pizzas in here. They say go try the pizza. There's a big selection, all done in a woodfired oven, and a healthy pasta representation too. This all signals a rematch event, but right now we wanted to see what they did with a couple of things off the specials board.

Lamb burgers (£8.50) came as a trio of perfectly formed discs, along side a big heap of cous cous and a lovely chilli dipping sauce.

They were a teensy on the dry side, these burgers, and cous cous is, well, what you see is what you get. But the lateness of the hour may have had a lot to answer for and happily the salsa breathed essential life into things.

My mate Phil's Mediterranean lasagne (£7.95) came with a massive and zingy looking salad. Although rocket was in evidence, at least it wasn't a symptom of the hysterically abundant science that some restaurants seem to have carved for their hapless punters. Green, fresh, diverse.

The lasagne was a superlamb affair again, at least in size. Phil is a diminutive chap who knows half of Liverpool (actually, make that three of those quarters we talked about earlier) so when he wasn't off gabbing to everybody in the place, it was possible to get some feedback out of him.

The lasagne? The construction, great. The taste, ditto. Lasagne, he opined, doesn't like to sit around. A bit like himself, I thought, as he buggered off again.

Waitress Lottie turned into a Jarvis Cocker lookalike who, when we asked for pudding, told us they'd all been wrapped up and put away. “No they haven't,” quickly interrupted another staffer, eyeing our camera.

So out came a Manchester Tart and a Paris Brest (£2.50 each). “Here's your cake, love,” said our new waiter, as he hurried off out the door.

The tart was soft and gooey custard on a pastry base, and covered in coconut. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever. Paris Brest, in case you think we choose these dessert names just to get a Friday Carry On gag going (you might be right), was created by a pastry chef in honour of a bicycle race between Paris and Brest. It consists of a baked almond-topped choux pastry ring (patterned after a bicycle tyre) that is split and filled with a praline-flavoured buttercream.

This was big, yet lovely and light, and, because they don't stretch to dessert wines, digestifs etc, we went onto a couple of blush pinot grigios. (£3.50). Sacrilege.

We were the last to leave, as ever. But we might have still been there now, reasoning, that at £48 a perfectly peasant evening can be almost perfectly pleasant.

Try it at close quarters.

Rating: 14/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
3/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: The Quarter
7 Falkner Street
L8 7PU
0151 707 1965

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

Jon GardFebruary 29th 2008.

Actually Edd, I took an ex there, telling her I liked the quick, filling food and great service. She pointed out it was cheap too! She was a bit like that though :)

Jon GardFebruary 29th 2008.

The Quarter is a wonderful place. Great staff, good atmosphere and quality, reasonably-priced food.In fact, it's time for breakfast there now :)

Sir Howard WayFebruary 29th 2008.

It's been going downhill for years that area. The Quarter was better when it was Vaughan's Chip Shop!

MurphFebruary 29th 2008.

I am impressed you managed to spell AWT without the extra 'T' Come on think about it now

TV KellyFebruary 29th 2008.

I've just realised that my previous posting might be misinterpreted by some readers. Can I make it clear that I was talking about puddings and not prostitutes/women of easy virtue? Thanks.

The Real NadiaFebruary 29th 2008.

Who is imposter who pretend to be me?

scrittipolittiFebruary 29th 2008.

Liverpool could learn a lot from this restaurant which goes for simple fresh well priced menu with proper portions, relaxed atmosphere but efficient service, proper coffee machine and no pretensions. The fact the same waiters and waitresses have been there for years suggests a happy working environment. Compare that with many of Liverpool's inept attempts to be metropolitan and it stands out: American cities are full of places like this. Look and learn half-baked gangsta-restaurant owners like jalons and alma de crapa...

AnonymousFebruary 29th 2008.

the Maria pizza is just wonderful. The base is really crispy so you have to work hard at times to get through it, but I promise you'll love every mouthful....

I wish I lived on the curry mile!February 29th 2008.

I love the Quarter but slightly confused. In the picture above salad is piled high on the lasagne plate - is this new - my lasagne came all alone.

Le SharkFebruary 29th 2008.

Well I turned up last Saturday at 11.45 with my wife to be refused breakfast which is supposed to be served until 12.00. The less than helpful waitress cheerfully told us that breakfast finished five minutes ago - we were not offered an alternative even.Rather than have the row we went back to the car and phoned the buggers up who confirmed that breakfast was indeed served 'til 12. Now 11.55 we went back and had the row! Still did not get an apology, or reasonable explination or an offer of an alternative. I hope it was nothing to do with the fact that I am disabled and use portable oxygen cylinders in a back pack when out and about! well off my list

Dorothy A.BrownFebruary 29th 2008.

We've had some great, reasonable meals at The Quarter, in fact its usually so busy now that it is difficult to get a table without booking.The pizzas ARE very good and freshly made. The staff are pleasant and helpful and they even found us a high chair for our little granddaughter one busylunch time and some suitable food.She is definitely going to be one of the next generation of Quarter customers as she also enjoyed the food and liked to watch people coming and going!!

TV KellyFebruary 29th 2008.

I've never managed to get my hands on a Paris Brest, but I've had plenty of Manchester Tarts in my time.

London RoadFebruary 29th 2008.

You wuz robbed!

NadiaFebruary 29th 2008.

What is this Manchester Tart?

EddFebruary 29th 2008.

One of my favourite plces to eat. I'd probably go more often, except it's so reasonably-priced I'm worried my girlfriend might think I'm penny-pinching!

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