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Hanover Street Social reviewed

Angie Sammons reclaims the afternoon and the lost and lamented long lunch

Written by . Published on October 14th 2011.

Hanover Street Social reviewed

GORDO, my boss, surprised me recently. No not like that.

It was something he said. “I don't mind if you lot are out of the office all afternoon, provided you are sitting in a restaurant somewhere' and you've got a camera,” he told one or two of us in a writers' meeting. “It's your job.”

I wish I'd recorded that one.

Fact is, for many of us, being absent from your designated work unit for 45 minutes or more can be enough to set your line manager's teeth on edge - and a visit to the HR department if you are unlucky.

Two or three jobs ago in a newsroom that shall remain nameless, I recall one mealy mouthed executive whose manicured fingers would wander eagerly and expertly towards the folder marked disciplinary procedures, should one of their veteran flock return to the windowless fold displaying any evidence, on their breath, of a lunch time, Cross Keys livener.

A cheer went up when they took their broomstick crook to pastures new and I would like to think the ding-dong was marked by trebles all round over the road.

Lunch out, a good hour or more, was once the workers' right – and I am not remotely convinced the world of commerce collapsed because of it. Now, if you count yourself lucky enough to still have a job, you aren't going to rock the boat by conspicuously disappearing on a wet Wednesday October afternoon.

So yes, while it's all good and well for me to do that, nobody else, in the real world, it going to be allowed out to play. Luckily I have friends in the Civil Service.

Hanover Street Social is mostly empty at 1pm on the aformentioned Wednesday, save for me and my Kings Dock pal who tells the waiter pouring a very pleasant Pasquiers Grenache Noir (£15.95) “Thank God for flexitime.”

Maybe chastened attitudes explain the lack of footfall. But then its neighbour, The Hub, which fronts the Castertelli Building (HS Social is at the back) is buzzing. Why should this be? Is Hanover, which opened about six weeks ago, not very good? 

Well it is very good, as it turns out from our experience, and it is going to have to be. Already, in this bit of Liverpool One, there are half a dozen restaurants shouting for the same trade. The team behind this new kid even owns one of its rivals - the successful Salt House Tapas which is, undoubtedly, buzzing too. 

To maximise its potential, Hanover wants you in there from dawn till the death. Thus we are given an array of options: an extensive, attractive breakfast menu, brunches, grills, roasts, fish, small plates, large plates and spinning plates to dazzle in between the cocktail jazzmatazz that they are also pushing into the late hours. 

On this occasion, we took refuge in the set lunch menu which offers excellent value at £8.95 for two courses and £11.95 for three, enjoying the agreeable dark wood and brick décor on one side and the passage of street life from the huge plate glass windows, which act like a two-way mirror, on the other. 

A satisfying portion of whitebait, deep fried in fresh breadcrumbs, was enlivened by a superb creamy aioli. While other restaurants may suck the blood from their customers, there is no fear of garlic in this kitchen and, set fizzing with a fat juicy lemon and peppery rocket, it was a top match to send the little fishies on their way. 

Some things have been exported from Salt House, like Libby's homemade bread and a reliable and appetising charcuterie plate of spicy meats and gordal olives and lovely baby pickled onions and gherkins. 

The fish of the day was sea trout in almond butter but feeling all French and liberated (try telling the Gallics they've got a 45-minute lunch break and had better not have a drink) the chicken chasseur beckoned. In this case, it was described as “supreme of chicken with a chestnut mushroom sauce” .

Whatever, it was exactly as it should be, a sizeable bone-in breast, golden and moist, plenty of sauce which oozed aromatics and rounded off with a dish of not unpleasant green beans and carrots and sauteed potatoes - all included in the gig.

The kitchen managed to get my friend's minute steak as rare as he had requested - and you do not want anything this thin and lean to stay in the pan for much longer than a quick flash. I can't speak for any flavour such a piece might have left by itself, but, again, it was partnered by an aioli, this time tarragon, which had burst to leaf to give the whole dish life.

A lemon pousset (£4.50) was deliciously tangy and elegant, an apple and rhubarb crumble (£4.50) was nicely presented in a deep ramekin. With this, the words warm, tart and comforting came to mind as we gazed at the gates to the old Seafarer's Mission outside.

It was gone 3pm by now, although we could have done it quicker, instead marvelling that you can buy half a litre of Pedro Ximenez sherry with your puds for £38. Perhaps not today.

“For us being social is about friends and family more than a political ideology,” it says on the Hanover Street Social website. Were they worried that people would think the name implied some sort of red flag flying Labour club with Ricky Tomlinson on after the strippers?

I have no idea. Nevertheless, I would have loved to have told all that to the ex-boss back then; possibly on the way down from the HR department; possibly loaded with sherry and very possibly with a P45.


*Follow Angie Sammons here on Twitter @twangeee


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




Food 7.5/10
Service 4.5/5
Ambience 4/5


Hanover Street Social
Casartelli Building,
16 Hanover Street,
Liverpol L1 4AA

0151 709 8784 

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; 19-20 As good as it gets.

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AnonymousOctober 15th 2011.

I may try this with my lover from the van bay

AnonymousApril 22nd 2012.

Took a look yesterday, but was booked up and we agreed to wait with a drink......until I saw the rubbish choice of beers, which tipped the balance and we walked.....to Lunya. Come on guys, so many great craft beers available now, and all you have are a couple of lousy keg things?

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