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The Food and Drink Round-up

Left Bank micro review, Delifonseca wins another award and other nibbles and bites

Published on January 14th 2010.

The Food and Drink Round-up

MICRO REVIEW: The Left Bank, Queen Square
A rash of restaurants – among them, Ask, The Tavern and La Tasca – at Liverpool's Queen Square all seem to be vying for the same kind of diner: the kind who wants an uncomplicated meal that won't take them all night, and won't break the bank.

One such is the Left Bank – French moniker, Italian menu – which occupies a site formerly taken by the late, great L'Alouette – French name, French food.

Inside, it's big with tables sprawled across two floors, regulation white walls and stripped floors, and pictures of the Liverpool skyline and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Outside, a small terrace looks across to St John's Gardens.

A fixed price menu offers two courses for £10.95, with starters like tomato soup, calamari and pate, and mains including lamb shank and wild mushroom risotto, while a slightly more formal dinner menu has three fish and two steak choices.

Value is clearly a selling point with about a dozen choices each of pasta and pizza, many around or below the £7 mark, while yet another selection offers a range of bargain basement dishes.

Olives were the sort that should normally be reserved for cooking rather than to savour. They came with country bread (with butter pats in canteen foil wrappers – not very classy) which we were told was home made. Flat and dense, with a cakey flavour and flecked with the likes of red pepper, it could not quite match the expectations that come with the words “country” and “home made”.

Likewise, Chicken Supreme only lived up to half its name. A decent sized breast portion lacked any flavour and could not rely on a creamy, mushroomy but ultimately bland sauce to bail it out. There wasn't much comfort to be found from chips, which were a good size and texture but a little greasy and suffering from an unpleasant tang.

Pizza boscaiola – tomato, mozzarella and wild mushrooms – comprised a film of cheese studded with slices of fungi that were all right but did not give the impression of being gathered in Woolton Woods that very morning. It was finished with a pinch of dried oregano when a sprinkle of the fresh parsley would have been much more cheering.

The base had a rather spongey texture and, 10 minutes in, the crust has developed an almost unassailable resistence to the blade of my knife.

All in all, it felt like catering by numbers. Tellingly, although it was Friday lunchtime, there were few seats occupied other than ours, while the terraces of nearby Ask and La Tasca were packed with punters. (AA Grill)

*Left Bank, St Johns House, 2 Queen Square, LIVERPOOL, L1 1HF. Tel. 0151 709 0922.

If you like the sound of hake in beer batter, chunky chips and mushy peas, followed by a fresh English strawberry tart, and all washed down with a glass of house white, for just under eleven quid, then that's funny because so do we.

The Orchard restaurant (more of them

later in the week), has announced a couple of new meal deals, the above being a sample from the express menu which offers two courses (starters include chicory and Stilton salad) and a drink (glass of house wine, pint of Fosters, or a soft drink) for £10.95, 12-3pm, Monday to Friday.

Alternatively, you can get two courses off the Sunday lunch menu for £11.95, with mains including good old roast beef and Yorkshire pud.

Deli well, thank you
THREE cheers – or should that be three cheeses? - for the Liverpool delicatessen celebrating success in the annual Food Northwest Awards.

Delifonseca, in city centre Stanley Street, won the small and medium sized businesses category proving that small (and medium size) really is beautiful.

The deli, along with the excellent restaurant upstairs, landed the award after achieving a 30 per cent increase in turnover every year since launching in 2006.

Owner Candice Fonseca said: “We are thrilled. Recession often offers opportunities to the brave.”

Now it looks like there could be a move on the cards. Candice adds: “We are aiming to add a fresh meat element and are actively looking for a site that will accommodate that as well as providing customer car parking.”

Meanwhile, Church Farm Organics in Wirral picked up a Fine Food Northwest Award for its asparagus, and Southport Seafoods was voted a winner for its Genuine Southport Potted Shrimps in Butter.

The Orchard, 57 Blundell Street L1 0AJ. 0151 709 3060. theorchardliverpool

Stubbs grub for city hub
Ex-Everton star Alan Stubbs is the solid, reliable presence behind a new 88-seat cafe at the business end of town.

Located in the atrium of The Capital building, on Old Hall Street, the cafe is to be run by the Woodwards bar and cafe chain, owned by Stubbs and his wife, Mandy.

With open-plan seating and “quiet meeting spaces” it may provide a little competition for the popular Brew tea bar, at the St Paul's Square development, which is rising nicely across the road.

The publicity blurb promises a “standard of design and comfort unmatched in Liverpool”. Blimey.

Food Empire
A new pre-theatre menu is on offer – at the theatre, of course.

The Liverpool Empire's Atrium Café Bar will be serving everything from hot carvery sandwiches, to chilli and goulash, hot dogs, nachos and vegetarian options, from as soon as the theatre doors open, while patrons can enjoy views over the city through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

Trial runs have evidently proved popular with customers so food will now be available at every Empire show from now on.

And they even promise exciting themed menus for some shows, more details of which will become available on www.LiverpoolEmpire.org.uk very soon!

Tipping point
After months of being in the firing line for paying staff basic salaries well below the minimum wage, the British Hospitality Association is urging all restaurants to adopt a code of practice on how to distribute service charges.

The code has been developed in conjunction with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, to back up new legislation banning the practice of topping up the minimum wage with tips, which comes into force on October 1.

*Got any food and booze news for next time? editorial@liverpoolconfidential.co.uk

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

DigJune 30th 2009.

I met Alan Bleasdale last week. Met Mikey and Grace from Big Brother yesterday (a colleague pointed them out as I've never watched it). Today I met Liverpool Confidentials very own Mr & Mrs A.A.Grill. I even got their autographs!

Zut alorsJune 30th 2009.

Who does do French food in Liverpool any more? I'm sick of fish and chips in posh batter and Goosnargh chicken. I want good old beef bourginon and chicken chasseur, and l'escargots. Come on, rise to the challenge!

AnonymousJune 30th 2009.

Nice to see delifonseca winning an award. It's a simple formula, really. Shame there aren't more places like it.

Irn Man BruJune 30th 2009.

Perhaps that's what I saw too.

Mrs GrillJune 30th 2009.

Don't worry. No celebrity culture for the likes of me. Can't speak for AA though, even though they were filming Hollyoaks down the end of the street before. But I'll tell you what: that Honda is a bit of a Looker, as they say...

AndyJune 30th 2009.

Jeez, Mr & Mrs A.A.Grill now part of the 'Celebrity CUlture'. There's no hope...

Mr. HondaJune 30th 2009.

Why thank you Mrs.Grill.

PetrochemJune 30th 2009.

Mrs Grills, have you been at the sherry? They weren't filming Hollyoaks, somebody had dumped a dozen wooden planks in the street and the ASBO unit were videoing it for evidence.

Dr FosterJune 30th 2009.

That's nothing Dig! As I was going to St Ives the other week, I met a serial bigamist. I don't know how he managed it as he reeked of cat's urine

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