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Rookwood examined....and examined

They're packing meat into the building at the old Tapas Tapas

Published on September 3rd 2014.

Rookwood examined....and examined

MANY have had a stab at bringing a New York-style steak house to Liverpool. Success, however, has been rare.

If they had just allowed the T-bones to do the talking.... Instead, the sizzle has often been silenced by side dishes of a musical variety.

What is not to love, their proprietors would argue, about a Michael Buble tribute-tribute act spreading the news all over your Saturday night bit of bovine?

Well everything, as it happens. And it is a pity, for no matter how finely tuned our pretensions in dining, the unashamed redneck, in many of us, has to, occasionally, be unleashed for the lust of a good steak.

Rookwood Bar And Cue Liverpool %282%29

Rookwood Bar and 'Cue (the last bit knocking off Barbie's top) appears a leaner machine. No chintzy cabaret in evidence, stripped down wood, a little light Spotify. Downstairs, a bar with craft beers and cocktails, and young acts, on a tiny stage, safe from the attentions of swinging lovers from West Kirby.

Borrowing from AFB, you order and pay for your food at the bar. Above, from a loftier perch, there is the same menu backed by knowledgeable table service and a view of Arthouse Square. Let's face FACT.

Rookwood is Michael Gledhill's rebranded Tapas Tapas; out go the patatas bravas and Gypsy Kings for a very different mood music: the all American songbook of trailer barbecue food that has become the soundtrack in Liverpool city centre.

So Rookwood needs USPs - and there are two: 30-day-aged beef from cattle grazed on the prairies of the North West, supplied, naturally by Edge's in Bromborough, fish by Wards. The second is a Grillworks charcoal barbecue to lash it all onto - one of only two in the UK, they say, imported from the States.

Aptly named head chef Ian Lamb, latterly of Ego on Hope Street, has put this mostly meat feast together. But after the waiters have been over twice and we still don't know what the hell we are going to order, it is we who are the sheepish ones. There is much to take in. 

Rookwood Bar And Cue Liverpool %2812%29Ribeye

You see, at Rookwood it helps to know what kind of Bar and 'Cue diner you are, and, in the absence of a Buzzfeed quiz to tell us, decisions can be difficult. We would probably score “neurotic”.

The ubiquitous “small plates” at around the £6 mark, include chicken wings, skewers, ribs, pork belly and squid. From the mains, pork chops, fishes of the day (roast cod loin with roasted Mediterranean veg, for example) and, of course, several steaks, starting with a flatiron at £12 going up to a fillet at £24. Then there is a mixed grill (£25pp) with steak, cumberland sausage, ribs, chicken, bone marrow, black pudding, chips, tomato, garlic, onion rings. If that's not enough there is a similar party sharing menu (£20) to mess with your head.

A burger and a soft drink before 5pm sounds like a bit of a bargain, setting you back as little as £8, including beef dripping or thrice fried chips. After that, a couple of quid extra.

Slather all sorts on these chaps: pulled pork, fried eggs, chillies, chorizo, and chilli con carne, or all of them at once on a weekly “gatecrasher” burger which sounds like a bit of an ASBO but has definitely been invited.

Just stop right there. You don't have to do the dude. Less is often more and the lack of fuss on the basic Rookie burger (£8, ask for medium rare), allows the succulence to sing.

Patties are composed from cuts of chuck, skirt and bone marrow, we probably shouldn't have been told, but asked because we wouldn't mind trying to recreate it some time. Jack cheese is almost weeping with pungency. It's a burger with more than a whiff of American diner about it - despite the problem of the brioche bun (baked locally by the French Quarter) doing its best to overwhelm it.

Rookwood Liverpool %284%29 

For those with better things to do with the rest of their night than wrestle with the meat sweats from big grills or what proved to be a sweet £20 ribeye (an £18.50 Chilean Carmenere will help it along charmingly) lots of small plates are the way to go.

Notable is the beef short rib (£7), dark, treacly and hanging from a thick bone, entirely worth getting into a fierce row with a butcher's dog for. In Usual Suspects style we racked it up in a line: Burgos black pudding and chorizo (£6) and fat, juicy prawn skewers (£6). Ghost wings (£6) came in some “blisteringly hot” chilli which with an unpronounceable name, but did not leave us so speechless we couldn't finish them. 

The pull of the pork and its friend, the dirty burger, have made healthy incomes for dining places in the last couple of years. A bull market, so to speak, charges on.

Grown-ups should expect no more than steaks fit, tanned and rested. A bit like Tony Blair but somewhat more palatable.

Rookwood Bar and 'Cue, 14 Back Colquitt St. Liverpool, L1 4DE. 0151 709 0999. Website here

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AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2014.

Over on Mancon they now up Advertorial before promotional content, something that would be helpful on here too.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
EditorialSeptember 3rd 2014.

Hi Anonymous, we can promise you this is not a promotion or advertorial, otherwise, as you correctly point out, we would have been rightly obliged to label it so. We would normally have badged this as a "First Look", but as it's been open since July, people would have wondered where the hell we had been and would have said so in crushing, bitter terms.

AnonymousSeptember 4th 2014.

Thanks, it was just a thought I had when there was no score at the bottom.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2014.

Have to say I was dragged in by my wife, it being not really my kind of place, but we have now eaten well there twice, so fair play to them

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