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Vooo reviewed

Neil McQuillian briefly wonders if a poltergeist was in charge in the kitchen

Written by . Published on September 16th 2011.


Vooo reviewed

THERE'S something spooky about Vooo’s black and white sign: the way the lettering is a little fractured. It looks like if you replaced the ‘V’ with a ‘W’ you’d have a good Halloween graphic.

The walk here from Central, this Saturday evening, was a bit of a fright-fest itself. I’d intended to go up Cropper Street, at the back of Lewis’s, and try out newbie bar Bier on Newington (ex-Old Rope Walk) for a loosener before cutting across Renshaw Street. But on exiting out the side of the station I was blocked by construction work and flushed out onto Ranelagh Street. 

'Are there any other Vooo restaurants?' we’d
asked at one point. 'Well there's Voodou 
the hairdressers,' our server replied

Immediately I found myself walking behind two lads who looked to be trying to chew off their own faces while administering ever-harder “matey” punches to each other’s shoulder. 

(Click here to add text)
Rounding the corner, a man was trying so hard to kiss the unwilling object of his affection that he had her pinned up against Lewis’s with the weight of his head. The movement was like a thumb squishing a fly. Passing between the Beehive and Smokey Joe’s I heard someone say, “Turn round you fat bastard”. I did. I’m not.

A man on a phone was looking straight past me – phew. I turned back the way he was looking. A big man was looking left to right with a phone to his ear. Then he looked over my shoulder, his face lit up, and he swayed past me. All a bit nerve-jangling. 

But once you’re out of the foothills, Mount Pleasant starts to live up to its name, and number 62 is a handsome, calm-inducing address. It has a residential appearance, with black and gold railings, red brick and handsome lintels above the multi-lit windows. 

In spite of its benevolent appearance, two restaurant businesses in recent memory have tried the property out for size – Aruma and Heart & Soul – but not stuck it out, like families in a haunted house (ah, that’s why it was so cheap). 

Vooo03
A haunted restaurant is a nice idea – recalling the haunted farm out in Ormskirk that goes by the name Farmageddon – and, remember, Vooo’s sign wouldn’t need much alteration.

Moreover, at the end of the evening we discovered a huge skull in a fireplace upstairs. Perhaps they’re covering all the bases, ready to embrace the spooks. As it turned out, it did seem like a poltergeist might be orchestrating things in the kitchen. 

The restaurant was empty but for the staff and my companion. Vooo is fairly new and the glossy black paint that now covers the floorboards throughout the building still smelled strong. Visually, the interior design was as striking as the odour and the interminable Spanishy music they played. The black-and-white theme is laid on thick, with faux cow-skin popping up everywhere, and a huge image of what looked like the Lord of the Ring’s Galadriel facing off against Grace Jones. 

Our server waited at a kind of work station directly next to our table for almost the entirety of the meal. She had probably been told to do this, but it was uncomfortable. In spite of the loud music, she was party to every word we said.

“Are you bored?” my friend asked at one point, as if trying to find some rapport with a kidnapper. “Yes, but I’m texting,” she replied. 

Vooo06
Another time, a few members of staff stood with her and discussed the following week’s rota. Wasn’t there anywhere else to do this, except next to the only occupied table in the place? 

Anyway, at least her presence stopped us from spoiling our meal further by talking about it. 

There were just six starters – a reassuringly limited range of options, you might think – including garlic prawns (£6.95), calamari (£4.95) and a bells-and-whistles “ciabatta formaggio” (£4) that was described as “bruchetta (sic), mushrooms, garlic, little cream, blue cheese on oven backed (sic) ciabatta”. 

Vooo11
After some mediocre olives in too much minced garlic on arrival, we thought we’d sample a couple of classics to get things going. It was notable that the three risottos specified “bomba” rice among their ingredients, a sort that I associate with paella. There’s a chicken risotto (£6.50), a “marinara” (£6.95) and a “funghi” (£6.50) – simple, which is better than messing around too much. 

The "funghi" promised "bomba rice cooked with wild mushrooms and pine nuts in a creamy parmesan sauce". Reading through these descriptions again, it should have struck a wrong note – describing risotto as rice in a sauce is a little like saying porridge is oats in a milkshake. Anyway, never mind the semantics, it was all wrong in more important ways. First, the rice was – to a grain – both chalky and soft, rather than rich and creamy. Second, the thick slices of mushroom were not wild but the button sort: like promising foie gras and sneaking in sandwich paste. 

We wanted to try them out on breadstuffs and wavered between the “10in pizza garlic bread with cheese and tomato” (£4.50) and the small (10in as opposed to 14in) Margherita pizza (£5.95).

Vooo10
We asked what the difference was, given that the “garlic bread” was cheaper. I think it’s smaller, said a male server (we had two by our table at this point). But they’re both 10 inches, we replied. The servers looked at each other. We ordered the pizza.

When it came, let it not be said that we ate it all in horror. All but one slice was dispatched. But this was 3am, wobbling-at-the-counter, sort of pizza. Soft and sweet all the way through, with a greasy bottom that just about offered some resistance to the teeth, it was pretty hard to fathom why a smart new restaurant would serve up what resembled fast food. Other varieties on offer might have been a clue – a so-called Milano with pepperoni, spicy beef and jalapeños (£8.25/10.50), a Hawaiian (£7.75/9.95), a Meat Feast (£9.50/11.95).

I have nothing against this kind of pizza – I had one late on Hardman Street a couple of weeks ago - on the understanding that there is not much skill or care involved.

Vooo14
My five chargrilled lamb cutlets (£14.95) came leaning on a bed of super-smooth mashed potato from which a large sprig of rosemary sprouted. A splattering of red something marked the plate here and there, congealed against its hot surface. There is very little to say about it other than that. The presentation was interesting, but that red stuff was about as tasty as fake theatrical blood.

My companion was unhappy with his main, Pollo forestière served with “wild mushroom, leek and a red wine cream sauce, with fondant potatoes” (£12). The chicken breast was generously bloated, certainly, and moist in the middle, but a little dry at its extremities. He couldn’t say too well what was going on with the topping but our photograph (main picture, top) gives some idea of what it brought to the table.

On the house, we were given an aggressively seasoned dish of onions, peppers, courgettes and aubergine.

Vooo15
Desserts included cheesecake, tiramisu, black forest gâteau with ice cream (all £4.25) and ice cream (£3.50). When ours came out I pointed out that it looked nothing like cheesecake and my companion reminded me we’d ordered tiramisu. It might as well have been cheesecake, for as much character as it had – this so-called “pick me up” practically ran away from our spoons.

There are eight cocktails on offer, from £4.95/£5.95. Our server tipped us off about what must be a kind of under-the-counter one, since it didn’t appear on the menu: the Charlie Sheen. Among the ingredients he listed were absinthe, tequila, rum and passion fruit liqueur.

“Is it nice?” we asked. “Nah, but it’s strong,” he told us. There are eight each of reds and whites and two rosé. We tried the perfectly fine Santa Luisa Malbec (£16.50). 

Vooo18
We had a peep at the upstairs bar before we’d left. It’s a great building. On the first floor are two rooms, one with the bar itself and the other for dancing. They both share the painted black floorboards of the rest of the building, but up here the brick is exposed. One room is touched with red detail (and that huge skull) and the other was blue-tinged. This sort of heaven-and-hell theme may seem a little corny, but I prefer to think of it as classic nightclub décor. With the leafy outdoor area, too, this place could be great for a night’s dancing. On this occasion it was not good for eating. 

Vooo21
“Are there any other Vooo restaurants?” we’d asked at one point. “Well there's Voodou the hairdressers,” our server replied. She was just trying to be helpful, of course, but the pointlessness of her response rather extends to the restaurant. 



It’s a beautiful space (though I’m not including the interior design in that) and could work fantastically as a restaurant. 

Perhaps they can improve things, before 62 Mount Pleasant claims another victim.


ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. Critics dine unannounced and the company picks up their bills - never the restaurant, never a PR company.

Rating:

10/20

Breakdown:

Food 4/10
Service 3/5
Ambience 3/5

Address:

Voo Restaurant Cafe Bar
62 Mount Pleasant
Liverpool, L3 5SD
Tel: 0151 708 5009 


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,16-18 very good to exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 As good as it gets.

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

Andrew MaudsleySeptember 16th 2011.

A pity Heart and Soul couldnt stick around, I quite liked that place...

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 16th 2011.

I wish I could have. Must say my heart bleeds at what they have done to my interior and intentions

Chumki (Heart and Soul)

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2011.

p.s. There actually is a poltergeist in the kitchen (you can read about it on my Heart and Soul website)

PeterSeptember 16th 2011.

This looks exactly like the previous owners of Heart and Soul were trying to tear this new place apart.

It doesn't not soud like the place l've been to 4 timds, and never got a single disappointment.
The lamb cutlets dish is my favourite, and to clarify one point about the Fake Blood to the Deshonest writer of this article, it's a cranberry jus, you could have realised that if yiu knew a little about food, and rosemary is the best to accompagne Lamb.
I recommended this place to many friends, they all left positive feedbacks. My overall experience there, l would rate thz following:
Food: 9/10
Service: 4/5
Ambiance 9/10
Decor 5/5

Readers of this nonsense paid-for to do article, l recommend this place, give it a try, and juge for yourselves, and you'll be surprised.

Peter

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 19th 2011.

Given your spelling can we assume that you are the same person who wrote the menu?

PaulSeptember 16th 2011.

What's a paid for to do article?

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2011.

This problem with this restaurant, or rather the venue, is the location. It is a beautiful building but two other people have tried and failed to make it anything.

Let's be honest Chumki, if Heart and Soul had really been up to much then it wouldn't have folded all those years ago. There is no point in blaming other people or making pointless comments about the present owners who are probably a bit out of their depth by the look of it, and it is to be hoped that they and other interested parties will stand back and take heed of some of the comments in this article and not decide to go into strenuous denial, which is all very entertaining but gets us all nowhere. Eh Peter?

Aruma was terrible and the pictures above aren't doing much for me either. This venue, with its crap location problems, needs a top chef in charge of it, or turn it into a very good members club. It needs more than blind love. Then people will come.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Pizza slutSeptember 16th 2011.

Hear hear!

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2011.

Apologies, though anon has not got all the facts and I had absolutely nothing to do with the review. My response was emotional and my hope is that one day the food there will be good enough to warrant a detour to a location which though unusual is hardly out of the way.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 16th 2011.

Sorry , the last post was from Chumki (Heart and Soul)

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2011.

Oh dear, cranberry juice mmmmm Any fava beans?

PeterSeptember 17th 2011.

For the last commenter: It's cranberry Jus not juice you connaisseur.

l just want to clarify few things regarding Neil's comments. How the hell could he take a picture of a Pizza on his table at 3am, while the kitchen closes at 10h30pm, the plates would have been cleared by 11h45pm max...this is a pure Bullshit. I've been there late myself and the lastest the plates were cleared was 11h30pm.

Also, l would like this Neil to learn that Pavarotti & Andrea Bocelli are Italians, not Spanish like he claimed, all the times l've been there, their music was played, a nice selection though, the only spanish song there is Besame Mucho.

As for this Poltergeist in the kitchen, l think the only thing Hauting this place is the Previous owner who's trying so hard to put this new place down, his failure is haunting him, and l guess he wouldn't be happy to see anyone succeeds there. Superstition can kill its believers.

All l'm saying is, give this place a try, and be the juge yourself. There is a big potential in this place, and it has a lot to offer than you think.

Peter

BezSeptember 17th 2011.

well all your comments are eye opening
I feel a critic will always be negative and cant see good things in a place.
his negative image of the liverpool city centre was horrifying .
I am a big fan of liverpool city centre and its people and who ever cant handle that shouldnt live here
the writer is trying hard to give negative image and comments to the readers before even getting to the building
the music is classical italian not spanish
the food taste was not commented on and they finished all the food even though they thought it was not good
he took mobile pictures of the place with out our permission on our SOFT OPENING week
he makes fun of the interior which is beautiful and different not for the faint hearted the place is great building and we have renovated for 6 months correcting everyhting
most chic decore and furntiure is put in place
then he goes on about the food and prices since then both our chef and prices have been changed
new chef and prices have come down by 10-20%.

our staff were in training week and their behaviour is taylored to the place and improved
we have rectified all those initial TEETHING problems and
I think you should come and see for yourself rather than a critic who has no clue about food or music make a decision for you
this building has beer garden to the rare and smoking area in the back soon to open shisha place for those who are keen on try something different.

the bar /club upstairs does great cocktails and pumping rnb and dance music once the resutrant closes at 10pm on weekends
our website is being created soon and please visit us and review the place yourself
this place is going to be great and no critics can kill its image or feel

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 19th 2011.

how incompetant can a restaurant owner be if they have to change their chef after a week? did you not try his food before you hired him/her?

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2011.

Yawn

Hero
Mark GarnerSeptember 20th 2011.

Neil, try and use the flash less and at more of an angle. Good piece, liked your London review as well.

WazzerSeptember 20th 2011.

I mean, you can protest and squeal all you like. If you are open for business and taking people's money off them then you can't turn around and say "you shouldn't have reviewed us because we had only been open a couple of weeks and we were sh***". Who is to blame here? Only the messenger by the sound of it.

AnonymousSeptember 20th 2011.

Another excellent write-up Neil. I trust ya!

AnonymousSeptember 21st 2011.

Why do people open "Restaurants" and think they can succeed without employing a top Chef? It will be more expensive but if you employ a person of capability and vision a path will be beaten to your door here in the culinary wasteland of Liverpool.

AnonymousSeptember 21st 2011.

If it isn't a celebrity chef we don't want to know about the place!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Absinthe & TurksSeptember 21st 2011.

If you engaged the appalling Nigel Slater people would beat a path from far and wide just to punch him in his prissy, smug face!

Lord StreetSeptember 21st 2011.

The problem with the location is that it is too close and too much in the shadows of Hardman, Renshaw and Bold Streets. It is also a steep hill and it always seems a bit underlit at night. Also the restaurant building's steps used to be a meeting place for tramps and the old YMCA attracted all manner of spitting ruffians so that even in daylight people avoided Mount Pleasant.

Even the lovely, bright and popular '07 Café Bar' across the road ultimately failed owing to high rents and too few customers in the evenings.

London RoadSeptember 21st 2011.

Don't mention tramps. People will think you are talking down Liverpool.

Lord StreetSeptember 21st 2011.

But there were tramps and drinkers who used to sit on the steps of the building, probably the same lot who hung around with Junior on that bench outside St. Luke's Church. Normal people just get into the habit of avoiding these places and who knows how long it will take people to saunter happily along Mount Pleasant?

They were unknown here at one time but since the 1980s all British cities have tramps and beggars. Liverpool has managed to attract beggars from far afield. I was taken aback some years ago to encounter a beggar holding forth - with a London accent - to a group of his fellow beggars outside Bargain Booze on Leece Street. The world in one city indeed!

BezSeptember 22nd 2011.

I think mount pleasant has changed a great deal and currently with the new road works and also the new accomdiation and tesco down the road has a lot going for it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 16th 2011.

your restaurant is in the wrong location

AnonymousSeptember 27th 2011.

This is one of the best rant sections ever.

Bez, you're not selling your establishment very well here. Considering the way you've responded to some constructive criticism I wouldn't fancy complaining about any wrong element of my meal if I were to visit.
I don't think you can complain about somebody coming and giving an opinion during your soft opening week, if you're not ready to take customers then don't open. The issues raised mainly came down to the quality of the food; those dishes should have been practiced and tasted well in advance of opening.
P.S. that pizza looks awful

Trésor BoutiqueSeptember 28th 2011.

Whoever is responsible for narrowing Mount Pleasant, cutting back the parking spaces and causing gridlock at the Rodney-Clarence Street junction ought to be wheeled out and shot.

All that money spent on silly paving sticking out dangerously into the road! The Council would have achieved the same effect if they'd just torn up the road to a depth of three feet and filled it all in with fine soft sand. It would have been much cheaper too.

AnonymousNovember 15th 2011.

food awful and the place is dead.wrong location. will be closed in 6 months mark my words.

AnonymousNovember 15th 2011.

would never go back.

AnonymousNovember 21st 2011.

this place is over rated and dull the staff are unproffessional and sneer a great deal at being "interupted" in their texting by diners, the food is that bad the bin will have an ulcer in a few weeks..if it lasts that long!!!

AnonymousNovember 21st 2011.

very disapointed with this place it looked ok but the food is awful, its like an expensive little chef!!! the place was empty when we went but there was a creepy little man wandering around think he may have been a boss or something he was lechy and had worrying stains in his clothes wudnt ever go back even if it was free!!!

AnonymousNovember 24th 2011.

after reading all the reviews i wasn't sure if going in is a wise choice but after going for special lunch offer £6.95 for 2 courses i was more than happy that i tried i do recommend this place for everyone specially at lunch time

Liverpool WagNovember 24th 2011.

Good point Bez

AnonymousNovember 29th 2011.

well i myself try to read reviews for places i have never been to before i actually give them a try, as we can all see many of those who left comments and reviews were not happy with any aspects of this restaurant so i decided to avoid visiting vooo.
That is until last night when my friends insisted to have dinner in vooo so i finally gave up and decided to join them.

I have to say i was greatly surprised. my experience was totally different to what many of users have described on here. the design reminded me of posh places in paris. staff were very warm welcoming and the food was amazing with reasonable price range.

In a group of 13 i could not see any left overs and every one enjoyed their dishes as much as they ate it all lol.

i have to say, at first, i was a bit surprised to see a posh restaurant offering shisha, but since the smoking area is separated from the restaurant i did not even notice it until we were told about it by a member of the staff.

the warm atmosphere of the shisha area was irresistible not to try and so we decided to have some mint tea and some of us enjoyed an orange mixed with mint shisha. next thing we knew we spent almost 4 hours there, without even noticing how time was passing.

no wonder most of the comments are made by anonymous users, i have a feeling they are all posted by the same user who may have an issue/bad memory with the place or he/she has a serious personal problem with the owner.

either way i think this restaurant has been given a false image from reviewers. i did have an amazing time at Vooo and will definitely give them another visit soon.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 1st 2012.

Your not the owner by any chance?

SandyJanuary 19th 2012.

Good review (above) 'Anonymous'. Interesting though how you comment that most of the comments were posted by Anonymous then signed yours the same! I think Neil was a little harsh in his review although, I despise bad customer service and the comment about the Hairdressers is shameful! Just wanted to mention that Neil didn't claim it 3am when he took a photo of the pizza, he said it reminded him of a '3am wobbling at the counter sort of pizza', read properly before you slate people. I will probably visit this place on Saturday (tastecard - 50% off!) and write my review after that.
SANDY - Liverpool.

AnonymousFebruary 21st 2012.

Called in for an early meal around 5.30 on the off chance as the menu looked reasonable however after a warm welcome things went downhill. I ordered a "rib eye" steak only to be presented with an over cooked frying steak. I ate my chips mushroom and onion rings as I'd had no lunch and left the steak. When asked by the waitress if oit was ok I explained my predicament and she brought over a scruffy little man whom I can only presume was the manager. He tried to convince me of the quality of the meat blaming his supplier ignoring anything I had to say in regards to cuts and marbeling etc and I fonnd his attitude very patronising. My wife dish of some sort of kebab and vegatalbles was very sloppy and contained too much chilly to be comfortable. They did reduce my main course by 50% so that was the most expensive plate of chips Ive had. whis I had read the reviews befor. i will never return to this so called resteraunt again.

AnApril 6th 2012.

Look at the liverpool city council's hygine score. it is a poor score of 1. I dont trust this place and do NOT recommend it to anyone.

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2012.

So, 3 conclusions;
1 It's still surviving
2 It didn't get much better
3 The proprietor is still posting his own curiously-worded reviews

A faint whiff of the same old story?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Kate MathewsNovember 3rd 2012.

AVOID!! We have attempted to use a voucher we had for Vooo on 3 occasions and each time we were told that they had no table available. When my husband phoned up 30mins later (without saying about the voucher), we were reserved a table no problem!
Upon querying this, we were told that the manager had given all staff instructions not to book in any patrons with vouchers or discounts. This has happened 3 times now and our voucher has now expired!
SHOCKING customer service and after reading some other reviews online - looks like terrible food quality - so overall, perhaps a good thing we didnt go!

AnonymousNovember 4th 2012.

Don't go!

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