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OUR Aintree tips....

Don't know about you, but we find that after a hard day at the races we're so hungry we could eat a . . .

Published on January 14th 2010.


OUR Aintree tips....

...NEIGH, surely not, but chances are you'll be peckish after all those hours walking the course/patronising the beer tent and you may not want to be bothered hoofing it into town or settling for a bag of chips on the bus.

There are numerous eating-in alternatives around Aintree and, like anywhere else, they range from firm favourites with the punters to the inevitable donkey.

Below is LivCon's unscientific Aintree form guide featuring three places we chose pretty much at random.

AN OUTSIDER ­- BUT NOT RANK

Red Rum Bar & Grill
2, Ormskirk Rd, L9 0JB. Tel. 0151 523 3328.

Course and distance Yards from the queue for the tattersalls.

Pedigree This place was the Sefton Arms for years but is now clearly looking to cash in on its status as the nearest food and drink station to the racecourse main entrance, with its metropolitan “Bar and Grill” tag.

An eye-catcher? Smart and tidy, the look is old-fashioned boozer with lots of dark wood and cream, and prints of racehorses in various states of exertion.

Temperament Those who like an authentic “The Pub From Shameless” experience would have enjoyed last Sunday night. Lunchtimes, outside of race meetings, are a quieter affair. Service is friendly and charming, if sketchy on detail. The barmaid cum waitress couldn't tell us what fish went into the fishcakes. “I'll ask the chef,” she said. “He might know.” He did and he didn't. “White fish,” came the reply, with a smile.

Under starters hors d'oeuvres Good, very thick tomato and basil soup (£3.20) was freshly made (though not with fresh basil) and just the thing to cheer the out-of-pocket punter on a cold April afternoon. A chunk of baguette had raced to the table straight from one of those handy half-baked packs – missing out the oven all together.

Odds-on flavourite Pushing it, but the burger and chips (£6.45) wasn't at all bad and tasted a lot better than it looks here. Handmade and roughly hewn, the 100% beef all the better for taking on the taste of the grill, and the chips really were home-made. Shame about that salad, though.

In the frame There may not have been masses of chicken in the chicken curry (£6.45), but there were masses of vegetables – whatever was to hand in the kitchen by the look of things. It all came in a bog-standard, virulent yellow pub curry sauce with naan bread and (bonus points for the carb conscious) sweet and delicate brown basmati rice.

The also rans Thai fishcakes had a good deep-fried crunch and plenty of fish chunks, but the only thing about them that had anything to do with south-east Asia was an accompanying sweet chilli dip, the colour and consistency of ketchup.

Fell at the first A flaccid salad that had been lying around for so long the lettuce was turning brown around the edges. Every salad hater's prejudice confirmed.

Result It's not haute cuisine but, despite the name, it's not oat cuisine either. If you are passing and need a feed at the trough without paying a fortune, there's no reason not to place your bet. Unless you fancy a salad, that is.

WORTH A FLUTTER

Prego
97 Ormskirk Road, L9 5AE. Tel. 0151 525 4411.

Course and distance Barely 200 metres from the racecourse main entrance, on the other side of the road, it's hard to miss.

Pedigree Formerly The Italian Job in Maghull, Prego has a new name and a new home – overlooking the less than lovely Racecourse Retail Park and B&Q.

An eye-catcher? A big,airy, modern, child-friendly environment, with bare tables, big glittery balls for lights and a long, marble-topped bar. Palatial toilets were designed with Ladies Day punters in mind – before and after the event...

Temperament It may not have the high-altitude views of the Panoramic but its staff offer a down-to-earth Italian welcome. Maybe a little too earthy at times: indicating our eight-year old, one black-pepper-wielding waiter enquired in polite but unexpected terms: “Does the kid want some?”

Horses for courses We're in familiar Italian territory here – pasta, pizza, salads – with the odd surprise thrown in. Much of the meat and fish is “vapour grilled”, that's grilled on top and steamed underneath.

Under starters hors d'oeuvres Try spicy meatballs with a proper home-made feel about them.

Odds-on flavourite We fought over garlic and rosemary pizza bread (£2.95), while pizzas from the wood-stone oven come with proper, pliable good-enough-to-eat-on-their-own bases and tip-top toppings. From your basic margherita, (£5.65), to Fiorentina (fresh spinach, parmesan shavings and a poached egg, £7.45), and carnivora (all meats, £8.55). Children's versions (£4.95) are just as good.

In the frame Our kid enjoyed his tortellini cain, including highly spiced chunks of sausage and pasta parcels which were actually a little undercooked but they've only been open a few days and these sort of things usually iron themselves out.

The also-rans A starter of bouillabaisse (£6.95) was at least off the beaten track: a herby, tomatoey sauce populated by mussels, squid and firm-fleshed white fish. We were less impressed when the same sauce, only less, and the same seafood turned up in the linguine frutti di mare (£7.95).

Result A somewhat inconsistent performer but on the whole a respectable addition to the area's stock of restaurants. Reasonable prices and a good place to take the kids.

**BEST BET**

Nine Dragons
9 Altway, L10 3JA.Tel. 0151 520 0282.

Course and distance A 10-minute walk, or a five minute canter, from the racecourse. Or you could be real lazy arse and make the one-station train journey to Old Roan.

Pedigree Open for around three years, its reputation is such that Colin and Gary Manning, owners of the award-winning 60 Hope Street restaurant, are said to be regulars there.

Horses for courses All the staples of Peking and Cantonese cuisine plus more off a specials board – like, when they can get it, fresh lobster.

An eye-catcher? Lots of white. Minimalist, western-style design.

Temperament The tone is set by Peter Lee, the knowledgeable and convivial owner.

Under starters hors d'oeuvres They're a little messy but the mini pork ribs – tender, tasty meat in a really fresh, natural tasting spring onion and black bean sauce – are well worth the effort.

Odds-on flavourite A dead heat between those lip-smacking ribs and chilli chicken, crammed full of bean sprouts, onions, shredded peppers and cucumber, and enough chilli to start a small fire in your taste receptors. Great if you like it hot; just about perfect if your day at the races was spent in the Bulmers Original Cider Bar.

In the frame Crispy duck, the meat yielding and abundant, matched anything offered in more pretentious surroundings.

The also rans Spring rolls were the nearest thing to merely nice but, to be honest, we struggled to find anything negative to say.

Result? Clear of the field. Not cheap but the quality of food surpasses many city centre counterparts.

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

Tony ChristieApril 2nd 2009.

Does anyone know if there is any meat in the burgers from the burger vans outside Aintree racecourse? Am I safe to eat there. And what happens to the horses that get shot? Do they get eaten, like in France.

OzymandiasApril 2nd 2009.

Oh, you can't possibly miss El Gecko on Moss Lane. Not excessively far to walk (just over a mile) and the food and service are great.

AnonymousApril 2nd 2009.

why haven't you included the arkels in here?He was a racehorse, and a restaurant in chester.

Lover of LatinApril 2nd 2009.

Hmm, not sure Prego sounds the "real deal" but as it is 10 mins from home, will probably give it a go. Anyone else been there yet? It's very hard to find a really good Italian restaurant in this part of the world, in my experience

Professor ChucksomemoneyApril 2nd 2009.

I would say put a couple of quid on Mon Mome. i have had a good tip from Germaine Greer's husband, McCrirrick. It's an outsider so don't go too mad but word is it has a very strong chance.

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Latest Rants

Lover of Latin

Hmm, not sure Prego sounds the "real deal" but as it is 10 mins from home, will probably give it a…

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Anonymous

why haven't you included the arkels in here?He was a racehorse, and a restaurant in chester.

 Read more
Tony Christie

Does anyone know if there is any meat in the burgers from the burger vans outside Aintree…

 Read more
Professor Chucksomemoney

I would say put a couple of quid on Mon Mome. i have had a good tip from Germaine Greer's husband,…

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