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New low for AA Grill on Renshaw Street

Published on January 14th 2010.


WALK by Caesar's Palace any Saturday afternoon and you won't spot a lot of unoccupied seats. People swarm there like flies around, erm, you know what. Ten million diners can't be wrong. Can they?

Reports a couple of years back that the Liverpool city centre restaurant had failed to meet even the most basic standards of hygiene, in a kitchen described by Judge Trevor Chatelier as “just awful”, seem to have made no difference to its till receipts.

Maybe it's the glitz that brings the punters in – this strip of Renshaw Street is a right little Las Vegas, what with Caesar's Palace and the Mint Casino just along from it, the bright lights amidst a growing retail desert.

Like its Mojave desert counterpart, Caesar's Palace is styled on the decadence of ancient Rome. There might be more marble at 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South but I bet they haven't got as many fairy lights, thousands of which form sparkly arches everywhere.

I managed roughly half of the burger and gave
the rest to the dog when we got home. He
loved it, but then he also licks other dogs' arses

Outside, by night, the neon is a beacon at an increasingly bleak end of town – the view on to the street through picture windows offering only the deeply faded glory that is a side view of Lewis's.


Both venues also feature Krug champagne on the menu. At the Las Vegas version, they have a whole menu devoted to the stuff, with a different Krug for every course. Thus, you can quaff a rather fine 1985 Krug while you eat poussin a la broche with black truffle potato puree, prepared by Guy Savoy, holder of three Michelin stars and the Legion d'Honneur.

If you can't be doing with all that poncey food, try washing down a tuna and mayo baked potato, or a combo kebab, with a bottle of the £155-a-bottle Renshaw Street vintage.

There is a time and place for drinking very expensive champagne and one o'clock in the afternoon at an indifferent fast food restaurant, overlooking a grubby street, was neither of those, so it was Coke (£2.50) for Mrs Grill and coffee (£1.50) for me that was better – smooth with a fullish flavour – than you are offered at many more pretentious settings. Maybe, I thought, the food might surpass our rather low expectations.

Sadly not. We were promised a “wide range of fresh, local produce” from the “full international menu”. Pastas, pizza, cajun chicken fajitas, Greek salad, and chicken tikka masala with a baked potato if that's what you fancy.

Mucho nacho (£3.90) is nearly Spanish for a whole load of corn chips, among which dwelled melted clumps of something that tasted a bit like cheese but not enough to convince us, and a meagre portion of salsa that may not have come from a jar in much the same way that the rain may not have come from the sky. The best thing about the dish was a shock of jalapeno chillies, seeds in, which were not for the squeamish but provided much-needed entertainment for the palate.

I suggested that Mrs Grill's mussels (£4.50) were a little firm. An insipid onion and cream mariniere sauce was not up to the job, nor scant slices of toasted baguette. Nobody had considered what would be done with the empty shells, which made for a mess but at least provided a metaphor for the city council's strategy for dealing with the rash of shop closures hereabouts.

An 8oz halibut steak (£9.90) had been “grilled”, which is the kind of euphemism they dealt in at Abu Ghraib. This had been interrogated to death.

The point about halibut is that it is lovely fish but prone to drying out quickly when cooking. Thus, I informed the missus, it does not like to spend longer than necessary under the grill. “I know the feeling,” she said.

“What do you mean?” I said. “Nothing,” she said.

The result was an affront to fishkind, so dry and stiff-sinewed as to render it edible only up to a point, at which you had the choice of swallowing it in lumps or spitting it out. It came with rice. “Horrible,” noted Mrs G.

A monster burger (£7.50) lived up to its name, not merely in terms of its size but in its power to inhabit your worst nightmares, with a composition – firmish on the outside, softish on the inside – that defied comparison to the flesh of any creature roaming this world.

It tasted like the inside of a food processing plant and little else. I managed roughly half and gave the rest to the dog when we got home. He loved it, but then he also licks other dogs' arses.

Laughably, the burger came plain in a lightly toasted bun. No adornments; presumably they were deemed unnecessary, though I was given the option of adding ketchup by the sachet. No consolation was to be found in fat-flavoured chips and a small heap of salad featuring half a cherry tomato, the exotic inclusion of frisee marred by the fact that it was turning brown around the edges. Elsewhere on the plate, button mushrooms and battered onion rings which, when squeezed, oozed grease like pus from a sore.

We ruled out the puddings on the grounds that further suffering would be deemed cruel and unusual punishment. As we paid at the till, the very nice woman asked us how our meals had been. “Erm . . . um . . . mixed,” I lied. She eyed us concernedly. “Well,” Mrs G elaborated. “The fish was VERY overcooked.”

“Oh dear,” she said, evidently unused to anything in the way of negative feedback. She looked around for non-existent support, an expression of mild panic suffusing her features.

“It's all right,” we assured her. No point spoiling her day too.

The fake glamour is a moderate diversion on a winter's day, but don't expect to find gems among the menu. All that glitters . . .


Breakdown:2/10 food
3/5 service
1/5 atmosphere
Address:Caesar's Palace
5 Renshaw Street
Liverpool, L1 2SA
0151 708 7787

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, eat the dog, 6-9 give it to the dog, 10-11 if you are desperate 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-18 very good to exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Burger me

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

that'smrbollockstoyouDecember 3rd 2009.

Well done, like the fish Grilly Boy. You are always at your best when giving somewhere a good kicking.

pedigree chumpDecember 3rd 2009.

Hilarious picture

Betty MorrisDecember 3rd 2009.

I once ate in Uncle Sam's when it was new in about 1983. Never went back. I parked my car across the road outside Lewis's, you could do that in those days when the city centre was more welcoming.

GemskyDecember 3rd 2009.

Excellent article - i walk passed there everyday and always wonder about it... Uncle Sams is truly dreadful though. The only place i've ever eaten where i've been tempted to refuse to pay. Shocking.

AnonymousDecember 3rd 2009.

How could you say that Dig?It's always packed on Mother's Day.

AnonymousDecember 3rd 2009.

The place next door The Renshaw Grill is no better but Caesar's Palace is always chocker with very unhealthy looking people which kind of goes to show that there will always be a market for this.

DigDecember 3rd 2009.

and we all know mums have terrible taste. Well mine does anyway. My mum must be the only person who makes a soup you eat with a fork and knife.

DigDecember 3rd 2009.

Just seen Caesars Palace is up for sale for £595,000. Shall we all chip in to close it down?

Jus Kewk WilyerDecember 3rd 2009.

Not so good as The Adelphi then?

Kruging HellDecember 3rd 2009.

Briliant review! Sums up the main thing wrong with liverpool's dining scene - legion's of customers with absolutely no taste at all who think a bit of chav glam is what its all about.

Mike HomfrayDecember 3rd 2009.

No great surprise that Chav's palace is as dreadful as one might imagine. Naturally, I have never darkened its doors and don't intend to.

Mersey MuncherDecember 3rd 2009.

So you gave it to the dog. Does the RSPCA know about this?

DigDecember 3rd 2009.

After eating there lentils and a week long detox should do the trick.

red foxDecember 3rd 2009.

A meal at Ceasar's Palace is worth it in comedy value. I have always been a cheap date (the best diet coke with everything always does me!) and with my fiance (now my husband) we went to his delight to a cheap restaurant.. and to my delight.. to a flashy gaff.. The rest of the punters followed suit.. . from screaming, spoilt school kids stepping out of a limo to drunken first daters we could hardly stand anywhere while waiting for a table. Eventually, a harassed and rather over made up waitress, appeared to get everyone to sit down & calm down, she balled in the broadest & best scouse..... "Move down will yer, there's people try'in to eat!"

AnonymousDecember 3rd 2009.

Super piece of writing! This is what it's about. Made me laugh out loud.

KellyDecember 3rd 2009.

Brilliant! I've not been here for over 10 years, but recently wondered why we ever bothered. Granted we used to go to Uncle Sam's a little more... Is that still there? I was too young to consider any sort of quality, although I have a feeling it would have been much the same as Ceasers...

Champagne fascistDecember 3rd 2009.

Excellent writing. Caesars Palace sums up everything that's wrong about people and their attitude to food in this country.

SiobhanDecember 3rd 2009.

It must have been so hard to endure all that knowing that delicious Samrat cuisine is being served up just down the road.I had nachos in O'Neils yesterday. The used tomato ketchup inside of salsa. Bizarre!

s-s-sizzlerDecember 3rd 2009.

Uncle Sam's also got done, I believe. It's in Bold Street now. Still packed. Still awful

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