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Restaurant Review: The Tavern Company

Fat Git's back: Although not nimble, he's been out on the bimble....

Published on September 29th 2010.


Restaurant Review: The Tavern Company

TIMES have been hard at Barry's Cabs this last few months, but you know what? I've survived.

How come? Because while Capital of Culture did nothing for this taxi driver, the Big Dig did.

2008 will forever be synonymous with JCB diggers, cranes and surprise road closures; picking up from Lime Street Station to Castle Street. You could watch a good 45 minutes tick by on the clock with that one. Happy days.

But good things must come to an end, and nowadays it's all A to B in a straight line.

Yet even though I have been on Incapacity Benefit for 15 years, I have kept myself afloat during lean times with the work ethic firmly implanted.

I have tightened my belt, and this has left me with a large bulge in my pocket. One which needed to be spent. Urgently.

But while I may have a wad of readies in one hand, your favourite taxi driver has got a weed on this week. I have been on the bimble all day and night, telling fares exactly what I think of the proposals to make Allerton Road and Penny Lane into a Beatles Quarter.

Hard to believe, but I was a child of the 70s AND 80s and I know my music and I've played drums.

Even now I still do a bit of humping – when I can get assistance.

Don't get me wrong. I love the Beatles, me. But what about turning Birkenhead into the Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Quarter?, I told them. Bootle Strand could be the Farm Quarter, or Gambier Terrace, where Stuart Sutcliffe lived, could become the Fifth Beatle Quarter.

And, yeh, how many quarters can we have? It was four last time I did maths, but we've got millions in Liverpool. The Gay Quarter (that could be Frankie Goes To Hollywood Quarter), the Business Quarter, the Ropewalks Quarter and the Cavern Quarter which is, guess what, in the Cavern Quarter. And while all those “branding” people think The Knowledge Quarter is something to do with universities, we all know it's where black cab drivers do their exams.

You get me?

Anyway, so I ended up in this so-called Beatles Quarter, on the rank outside the roundabout. I was sitting with Cousin Tony. He's out of the nick now, but he's wearing one of those tags. Him and Kruger, the mastiff.

Come on, let's turn the light off and go to The Tavern, I went. “Yeh,” he said. The first word he's uttered in months.

So in we go, and it's just as I remember it from years ago. It still gets bunged with students. The food is on the cheap side and they do massive, massive portions of Tex-Mex. It's all dark candles and wooden wobbly tables. I like the big jugs best. Margaritas and foaming lager.

We sit down by the window so I can get a picture or two, or should that be a pitcher or two? Since he came out of Altcourse, Cuz insists on sitting with his back to the wall. Even in his house.

So we begin with stuffed chillies (£4.95) and a bottle of New Zealand Crowded House sauvignon blanc (£19.95) which, they say, is so like Cloudy Bay that you'll be reaching for the second one. It's not bad, but on the warm side so I ask for an ice bucket. I don't know about a second bottle, but this is the the second ice bucket I've had to ask for

tonight, the first being in Keith's in Lark Lane (The Wah! Quarter).

The chillies are encased in a sort of breadcrumb outer layer that is not unlike plaster of Paris in its durability. It reminds Tone of scotch egg coating, but even harder, with the crumbs clinging to a viscous substance. Inside is the big fat green chilli, nicely hot, and inside that, the runny cheese. It's a bit like the culinary equivalent of a Fabergé egg, but without the Fab. There I go, the Beatles again. There's a bowl of fairly nondescript tomato salsa, which you get with everything. You would probably like that.

A big bowl of nachos (£6.95) with a a glob of that salsa, one of guacamole and another of sour cream, isn't going to set the world alight on the looks front, and is a bit disappointing until we realise it conceals a layer of vegetable chilli which isn't bad at all. It reminds me of the Taco Bell in the States, so I dispatch it quickly and order another.

Chicken fajitas (£10.95) follow - big sizzling platter of tender meat strips, and lots of veg, including tomatoes and onions and red and green peppers. There's some refried beans and rice there too, a very sad bit of lettuce, some grated cheese-food which can't make up its mind whether it wants to melt or not, and glob, glob and glob again. I want to have a go, but Tony puts his arm around it, protectively and flashes a dangerous look. He ate it all though, so I'm assuming it was all right.

There's only one way to go for me, the American platter (£16.95). This contains steak, a breast of chicken, onion rings, mushrooms, barbecued ribs, coleslaw, chips and salad. Malboro Country food. There is also a side order of green peppercorn sauce (£1.95) which is completely unnecessary.

The onion rings' batter is thick and heavy, but that's not something you, the average punter, would probably notice. The steak (medium rare) is excellent, well flavoured and juicy, the chicken breast, on the bone, is generous and tender, like the waitress serving it. The ribs are fine too and although the food is mountain sized, I have no trouble polishing off the lot, except for the some of the onion rings, which I thought I'd save for Tony's dog.

The puddings get good reports, but it was getting late and Tony and the electronic tag have to be home for 9 o'clock so we bid farewell with the onion rings in more layers of foil than you'd see on a nuclear reactor. Nice staff though, fit birds and good atmosphere. The whole bill was £61.

In the street, all estate agents and bars, I look around as the blue suburban sky turns to ink. Fab Four planet.

"Have you still got that Beatles wig, from last year?" I ask Tony.

“Nah, mate. Kruger ate it.”

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: Fine dining against the best fine dining, cafés against the best cafés, curry houses against the best...etc...Following on from this, the scores represent: 1-5: Saw off your leg and eat that; 6-9: Get a DVD; 10-11: Only in an emergency; 12-13: If you’re passing; 14-15 Despite the odd gripe, worth a trip; 16-17 Exceptional; 18-19: Verging on greatness; 20: Perfection

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

Spanish flyJune 19th 2009.

Savina is ok, but La Vina, despite being a chain, never does it wrong.

AnonymousJune 19th 2009.

Shag that beatles wig with your dogs arse

Big DigJune 19th 2009.

What did I do for this taxi driver?

gingemopJune 19th 2009.

Mexican meals in Uk always seem to be the same type of food: where are the birrias, the huachinango a la veracruzana, proper tacos? You might get mole but lots of emphasis on fajitas, burritos and meals that look more at home in a Spanish restaurant (chorizo; tapas). Even Savina is a let down tho' more interesting than most and less Texmex. Also, where are the maize tortillas -- more representative of the majority of Mexico than the flour ones that everyone seems to serve. Ok: end of rant!

Garrick StreetJune 19th 2009.

Does it still have a framed poster of Edward Gorey's 'The Gashleycrumb Tinies' on the wall?

Liverpool WagJune 19th 2009.

He's not!

coltsfoot rulesJune 19th 2009.

texmex is a good catch all phrase for too much salsa, not enough flavour and greasy meat with lots of chemically treated lager.Avoid. avoid avoid this place. Savina in Duke street is the best mex eating place in the north west and the ambience is typical Mexico.They serve authentic Mexican beer and it was like being on honey moon all over again.

KrugerJune 19th 2009.

I don't even like the Beatles. I prefer more contemporary tunesmiths. They usually have tasty t shirts.

redriojaJune 19th 2009.

I have to agree with coltsfoots rules, Savina is the better out of the two. the food is tasty. Gingemop, Savina do a version of the huachinango (red snapper) and as for the birrias, they do a chilli colorado which is made with proper chunky beef, chilli con care, but without that crap minced meat. Again this is very tasty. I guess like most restaurants opening in the UK they have to tailor their recipes for the UK taste buds! birrias would probably make a few grannies cry here in Liverpool!

DigJune 19th 2009.

I didn't know he was Fat Git as well!

DigJune 19th 2009.

Oh sorry, I get it now! Quality car that. One of the lads ended up selling that for £7500.

AnonymousJune 19th 2009.

offer to sell him a Passat?

St NavJune 19th 2009.

I thought the Wah quarter was by that chippy in Chinatown.

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