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Nice and easy does it....

The owners of Negresco and Alma De Santiago are carving a niche by providing stylised food and drink venues in the affluent suburbs of the south end for people who'd normally cab it into town. We go along to spot the trophies

Published on January 14th 2010.


Nice and easy does it....

Everywhere you look, there are moose heads, monkeys and Madonnas.

Are we in Concert Square on a Saturday night?

No, we are in the somewhat more wholesome surroundings of one of the three bar/restaurant ventures that have sprung up across Liverpool in the last two years, all at the hand of the people at Korova Corporation.

Was it holy visions of Alma De Cuba, Alma De Santiago and now Negresco, which inspired owner Rob Guttman to pour big money into the shells of some of the city’s best known buildings? After all, St Peter’s Church on Seel Street, Penny Lane’s Dovedale Towers and now the old Masonic pub, across the park on Lark Lane, had little going for them and were in big need of an answer to their prayers when Korova stepped in. And, after Guttman’s timely sale of Blue Bar and Grill, the Pan Am and Baby Blue in the Albert Dock, just a few years ago, you could say it was a matter of divine intervention.

So what makes this Blessed Trinity stand out from the rest?

Well, the interiors of all three are opulent, and each wears eccentricity like a uniform (now there’s a paradox), with religious imagery, prints of animals and homages to the secret art of taxidermy jumping out everywhere to shout “Boo!” Or should that be a howling “Whoohoooh…?”

And now, romantic lace and lavish upholstery add to Korova’s costume drama at the all new Negresco where, last week, the management were keen to show us what it was all about.

It may be based on the Nicoise hotel of the same name, but Lark Lane is a world away from the Promenade Des Anglais where there the girls rarely drop their chips, and if they do it’s only the Casino kind.

Negresco is after the sophisticated crowd of the latter which it has identified in the south, sorry, "sud" end. The press blurb boasts a “dramatic and theatrical interior, referencing film, and renaissance and Victorian history, “ and “art nouveau mirrors, period tasselled lampshades, black crows, lace curtains, gilt chandeliers, a renaissance style mural, and a terrazzo floor articulate a bar and restaurant with four very distinct spaces to it.”

Wasn’t that like nearby Keith’s Wine Bar in the old days?

Head chef John Mac was responsible for an imaginative and perfectly executed spread on the night we went, a banquet hosted by Mr Guttman’s sister, Caren, who visibly pinked with joy as the likes of Luis Garcia wandered past the private dining room.

For non-footballing mortals, the restaurant menu isn’t so high fallutin’, featuring a huge range of tapas starters with new takes on French classics like coq au vin, grills, surf 'n turfs and Moules Negresco, its house speciality.

"Negresco is the venue I've always wanted to do. It's our take on some golden ages of European history," says Rob Guttman. He adds that it is set in a "Hammer House of Horror context”. A bit like like Keith’s Wine Bar nowadays, then.

But perhaps it is time that a changing L17 had something like this for those who would normally get their kicks outside the sticks.

And whatever your taste in trophies on your wall, there are plenty of the stuffed kind here, silently watching the girlfriend variety among the affluent crowd stuffing themselves.

And what better way of keeping the wolves from the door at Korova Corps.

Angie Sammons
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Latest Rants

Prof. Chucklebutty

This sounds like it will be a very popular event. Although personally, I would prefer my dinner…

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Knowlegeable

Please refer to the sentence up the top about one or two glaring omissions...

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Anonymous

Leaf, Leaf and more Leaf probably the best brekkie place in all liverpool, and second in my opinon…

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Tracy Ryan

I feel ill. The history of the building will be entirely lost.

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