Scouse Bird Problems – The best city centre restaurants (IMO)

If there’s something I’ve always loved to do then it’s eat. Food has never not text me back, food has never faked interest in me to get a quick shag, food has never cheated on me and food, especially when covered in cheese, is always sexy and guarantees my satisfaction. I often get e-mails from locals and people from around the country who are planning on visiting Liverpool (best city in the world™) asking where are the best places to go for a curly blow? A drink? A clubneck? To stay? And of course for a decent scran? I have so many different restaurants which I love and all for different reasons. Some are old favourites and some are new old favourites but they all offer something different, to suit all the personalities a woman has. Cos bitches love having multiple personalities.

I decided to do a top ten of MY favourite restaurants. This is by no means a definitive and conclusive guide to the best places in town, just simply my opinion on where is the best place to fill your face and why. I’ve ended up putting them in a kind of top ten order based on quality of food, service, venue, price and whether or not they have any bonus features…

Casa Italia

Casa Italia is one of those little hidden gems which has been around for years – 39 to be precise. If you love great quality Italian food and don’t want to pay through the nose for it then this is right up your street, and your street is Stanley Street. The venue has a holiday vibe, you could just as easily be in a pizzeria in Florence or Naples as be in Liverpool. It’s always busy but you can usually get a table – there are loads of them (!) therefore it can feel a little crowded and hot sometimes. With its plastic coated checked tablecloths and mis-matched chairs it’s not trying to be kitsch like so many hipster places right now, it just IS kitsch. You have to love the complete lack of pretension. The food is authentially simple but tasty and a main course will cost you less than a tenner – I do wish there was a better dessert selection though.

Quality of food: 3/5

Service: 3/5

Venue: 2/5

Price: 5/5

Bonus feature: 0/5 (n/a)

Total 13/25

Smugglers cove

It’s a relatively new kid on the block but already a firm favourite with locals. As soon as you’ve stepped through the door you’re deep within the bowels of a 16th century pirate galleon complete with a vast selection of rums – cos what would a pirate be without his yo ho ho and a bottle of rum? The service on this particular occasion wasn’t great, we were forgotten about once we were seated and had to get up and find a waitress to take our drink order plus we were given the wrong starter. That being said, the service there is usually brilliant, we all have our off days so don’t let that put you off trying it out. If you’re on twitter you’ll have probably seen local celebs such as Pete Price 😉 posing with Smugglers Cove’s famous swinging kebabs – yes it’s gimmicky, but who doesn’t love a gimmick? All the side dishes are served in real shells too, it’s attention to detail like that which really determines how good a theme restaurant is.

Quality of food: 4/5

Service: 2/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 3/5

Bonus: 3/5 (Theme restaurant)

Total: 17/25

Miller and Carter

If you love a steak then obviously you go to the steak specialists and Miller and Carter doesn’t disappoint. As with all the Albert Dock bars and restaurants it’s situated in a former warehouse. The bare brick and stone floors coupled with the flattering lighting and beautiful view mean this is a great romantic setting. If it’s the ‘getting jiggy’ date then the fact the food isn’t carb heavy can only help the performances of all involved 😉 The lettuce side dish is a great twist on a side salad – literally a lettuce chopped in half with your choice of dressing – it doesn’t sound much but it’s amazing. Also don’t be fooled into thinking the waiters are all standing round texting their mates, they take your order on an iphone app which is quite cool. Price of food is mid-range.

Quality of food: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 3/5

Bonus: 0/5

Total: 17/25

Yacht Club Liverpool Marina Bar & Grill

You can’t beat a carvery on a Sunday and for carveries you can’t beat the Liverpool Marina Yacht Club. There’s no better way to spend a ‘delicate’ Sunday afternoon than watching the yachts bobbing around on the Mersey while shoveling roast parsnips into your mouth and dreaming of a better time, a time when you’re not hungover. A Sunday roast is a British institution and we hold very high standards, I went for a carvery a few weeks ago somewhere else and I couldn’t even eat it… the pork still had hairs on! [insert ‘can’t cope’ emoji here] You won’t find such horror stories here, everything from the roast potatoes to the delicious gravy storage units (Yorkshire puddings) are cooked to perfection by a team headed up by the amazing chef Adam Franklin. The restaurant is simple and unpretentious, it can and does easily transform into a function room for the likes of weddings etc so if you ever fancy a pretty wedding overlooking the Mersey you know where to go.  You’ll pay less than £15 for 2-3 courses which is brilliant value for money. You won’t find any extra gimmicks here, it’s just straight up amazing food in a great setting.

Quality of food: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Venue: 4/5

Price: 5/5

Bonus: 0/5

Total: 18/25

What’s at 62

One of the newest offerings to come to Castle St and one I was very excited for – if you’ve ever been to What’s Cooking in the Albert Dock you’ll understand why. Unlike the original WC which offers a Texmex menu,  ‘What’s at 62’ concentrates on deep South American soul food. Think Jambalaya and Gumbo. What used to be a stunning banking hall (I presume) has now been transformed into the trendiest of eateries, i.e. pulled pork, chips in cups and sweet potato fries. It’s so hot right now. I had the lobster, which at £22 was really great value for money and it tasted as good as it looks. Service was brilliant, staff were friendly and chatty rather than aloof and their knowledge of the menu was in depth. The dessert selection is the best I’ve seen in years, I struggled choosing but Diane our server expertly steered us through.

Quality of food: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 3/5

Bonus: 0/5 (n/a)

Total: 18/25

Since visiting What’s at 62 it has now closed. Dev’d.

Marco Pierre White

If you don’t know who MPW is, he’s the grumpy chef off the Knorr jelly stock advert who I suspect probably features on a few people’s ‘weird crush’ list – even if he does look a little bit like Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters 2. Either way, he’s supposed to be able to knock up a decent steak and we’re lucky enough to have one of his joints right here – attached to Hotel Indigo on Chapel St. The steaks really do melt in the mouth and the pork belly is the perfect level of crispy – Top tip: If dauphinoise potatoes don’t come with your meal, sweet talk the waitress into sweet talking the chef into knocking you up a side dish, they’re amazing. The cotton candy martini and the breakfast martini (btw I like the idea of martinis for breakfast) are delicious and the bar area would be perfect for after work drinks with the girls. Bonus: I’d recommend here for a date, the dim lighting makes you look fit. Anthony the bartender and Keeley our waitress gave particularly great service. Price wise, you will pay around £25-30 for a steak dish so it’s not the cheapest.

Quality of food: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 2/5

Bonus: 2/5 (Flattering lighting and pictures of weird crush MPW on the walls. Trust me, you’ll see.)

Total: 19/25

Gusto

Gusto will always have a special place in my heart for introducing me to ‘The Basil Grande’ and they still do the best one in town – if you’ve never partaken of this particular cocktail then you absolutely must, it’s the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. Just like men, no one likes an overly sweet cocktail.  Yes, the menu in Gusto is carb heavy, it’s an Italian so what else could you expect? It’s my perfect recommendation for a Sunday evening when you’re just starting to feel human again after the Saturday night vodka blackout. The low level lighting, fairy lights and 50’s starlet photographs also make it a great place for a date… the type of date who doesn’t expect you to push salad round a plate for two hours of course. You must eat bread here and you must eat loads of it – may I recommend the slightly salted garlic pizza bread and of course no trip to Gusto would be complete without the Nutella and Mascarpone calzone, so make sure you save room for dessert.

Quality of food: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 3/5

Bonus: 3/5 (Basil grande, nutella…fairy lights, what’s not to love?)

Total: 20/25

Fazenda

Unlimited meat. Those two words mean we’re already off to a great start.  Liverpool is lucky enough to have a few ‘rodizio’ style restaurants and Fazenda is the newest and most upmarket. If you’ve never been to one before then you’re seriously missing out; you sit at your table with a reversible red and green card and servers come round with different meat offerings  and continue serving you while your card is on the green side. Once you’ve had enough you flip it over to red. I know, it’s like a dream come true right? Like Disneyland for the greedy. What I’ve found sets Fazenda apart from the other is not only the beautiful restaurant setting and fantastic service but the selection at the unlimited salad bar is a cut above the rest. You have to try the mango & chilli coleslaw and you’ll also find delicacies such as quails eggs – this ain’t no ordinary salad bar, this is a Fazenda salad bar. I noticed quite a lot of Brazilians eating here, if the people who invented the cuisine eat there then you know it’s good. As this is the most upmarket rodizio venue in town you’ll find the prices are also the highest but it’s definitely worth springing for the extra. Including drinks you’d probably be looking at around £40 per head but as an added bonus, if you check in on Facebook while you’re there you get a free Caipirinha cocktail – free bevvies, what’s not to love?

Quality of food: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 2/5

Bonus: 3/5

Total: 20/25

Circo

If you’ve never been to the Freak Show at Circo then quite frankly you’re missing out. Not only does Circo arguably boast one of the best views in Liverpool but you’ll find the service is great and you get a decent scran. This is all standard stuff for a restaurant though right? Yeh you’re right, but Circo is the only place in town where you’ll find a buff, half naked man dressed as a pornstar fireman and wielding a flaming sword – and that’s just the highlight. The whole evening is a none stop whirl of dancers, magic shows, aerobatics and break dancers. Perfect for a night you want to remember – think hen-do, special birthday or works night out. It’s not nearly as expensive as you’d think, you’re looking at around £30 per head for a three course meal, drinks and a two hour show.

Quality of food: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 4/5

Bonus feature: 5/5 (The show)

Total: 21/25

Chaophraya

My absolute favourite cuisine is Thai food so it’s only fitting that one of Liverpool’s Thai offering should make it into my top 10. The service in Chao is always spot on. Each and every member of staff goes out of their way to make you feel welcomed and they can’t do enough for you – it must be a traditional Thai custom to bow your head at customers and I’m all for it, it makes you feel like a prinny every time. The food is some of the tastiest around with just the right level of heat in the Thai green & red curries – my ‘must have’ dish. If you like unusual cocktails then their selection will be right up your street, you can’t find anything like them anywhere else in the city. The restaurant and everything in it (including the menus) is immaculately presented and as an added bonus they have a huge fish tank separating the men and womens toilets so if you happen to come across a Leo Dicaprio lookalike then you can synchronise your toilet trips and be his Claire Danes or failing that you can settle for re-enacting Romeo & Juliet with your fella instead. Expect to pay around £12 for a main course and then rice is extra so it’s not the cheapest Thai place you’l find but the quality shines through in everything.

Quality of food: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Venue: 5/5

Price: 2/5

Bonus: 5/5 (Fish tank & reverant service)

Total: 22/25

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