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The Tavern & Co - restaurant review

Katja Driver blows hot and cold in the Queen Square branch

Written by . Published on June 14th 2011.


The Tavern & Co - restaurant review

WHEN it comes to Mexican cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is chilli. Well, maybe tortillas. But what doesn’t come to mind is a fine-dining style culinary experience.

I’m thinking a few caballeros roughing it at desert-like scenery with sombreros and ponchos and a campfire, eating beans from a pan.

Or am I confusing American western films with reality? It probably doesn’t matter.

The best thing about the quesadillas
is the guacamole, which is in fact, a
joyous occasion. I wonder if it’s freshly
made but before I get the chance to
ask our waiter, I try the salsa and
lose the ability to speak

The Queen Square Tavern is awash with candles, not cactii. With its plain dark wood interiors, the defining feature of the restaurant is nothing Mexican, but  a wall-collage of good old fashioned American comics like Doctor Doom and the Avengers.

ComicsComicsI only hoped they wouldn't have any bearing on the food experience to come.

No ponchos here on the waiters, just clean, sleek black outfits. I have to say I am a little disappointed. There is something appealing in following through on the chosen theme of an establishment. This is more of an American inspired Tex-Mex joint, although nothing wrong with that - and all the potions are fittingly US supersized.

My other half and I have adapted, after years of suffering from serious cases of food envy, a specific method of ordering meals. We pick two things we’d like to eat from the menu and share them between us.

Even though not filled with the arriba! spirit, starter of quesadillas with spicy chicken, guacamole and salsa (£5.95) does give a nudge towards south of the border.

Gold FingersGold FingersThe best thing about the quesadillas is the guacamole, which is in fact, a joyous occasion. I wonder if it’s freshly made but before I get the chance to ask our waiter, Phil, I try the salsa and lose the ability to speak.

I’m all up for spicy condiments, as long as the spice is there to enhance or add to the flavour, not when it merely scorches your mouth. I flush it down with a good mojito (£5.95), while my partner reminds me that Mexican food is mostly about chillies, jalapeños and spice.

The accompanying dish "Gold Fingers", fried halloumi with chipotle aioli dip (£4.95) forgets its Mexican, American, and entire New World roots entirely, but I forgive its continental drifting flaws when I taste some. It is, in a word, best fried piece of cheese I have ever had. 

Hefty chilli beef burritos and enchiladas (£9.95-£10.95) sound about right for the supposed theme, and served with refried beans, mushroom rice and salad they should hit the spot dead on.

Mains: Burritos and enchiladasMains: Burritos and enchiladasBut the only thing that remains dead is my tastebuds, even though the spice does detract a little from the grainy, not particularly pleasant texture of the beef itself. The refried beans, if intended as a palate calmer in between mouthfuls of traditional Mexican fire, are nothing more: watery and devoid of  flavour.   

I’m not sure if we’ve just come on a slow night, but suddenly there are a few more customers in the restaurant and Phil seems to have forgotten us. My partner is considering abandoning the idea of a dessert, but I insist I go for the full hit. Eventually, Phil hurries by and promises that a colleague will take our dessert order shortly.

Shortly turns out to be 20 minutes, and it appears that the poor girl wasn’t even aware she was supposed to take care of us. But perseverance wins the day and I finally get my itchy fingers on the rich looking Louisiana pecan pie with ice cream (£3.50) and my partner tucks into a Bomba Mexicana, apparently the world’s largest profiterole, with Kahlua cream and sticky toffee sauce (£3.50).

DessertsDessertsDespite being bought in, both of them are dressed up and cheer us up.

When we leave, I ask my partner what did he think of our Mexican escapade.

“Doctor Doom and the Avengers,” he says without a moment’s hesitation.

I’m still a bit bitter about the sombreros.

Rating:

11/20

Breakdown:

5/10 food
3/5 service
3/5 ambience

Address:

Tavern and  Co
 4 Queen Square,
Liverpool,
Merseyside
L1 1RH, 0151 709 1070

www.tavernco.co.uk


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.

Liverpool Confidential critics dine unannounced and we pick up their bills - not the restaurant, not a PR company.

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AnonymousNovember 4th 2012.

This restaurant is now closed

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