My bank card always runs for cover this time of year because a) if I see Christmas pyjamas you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be buying them, b) Halloween costumes are waaay more expensive when you no longer fit into a 4-5 years pumpkin suit and c) my other half was inconsiderate enough to be born so close to the aforementioned festivities. Pssh. Joking, babe. Love you. (Now we can test if she really reads all my blog posts like she says she does!)
I have long since crowned myself the Princess of Present Buying and Queen of Gift Wrapping so each year I sit down and plot the next best way to out-do myself. This year, in honour of Abby’s day of birth, we’re headed to the Arthouse Hotel in Liverpool for a night’s stay in the Rocky Horror apartment and for some posh grub at Alma de Cuba. Hang tight for a full review of each but in the meantime, here are some other ideas I had along the way for if you’re ever looking for restaurants in Liverpool suited for a special occasion.
1. Salthouse Bacaro
Jesus Christ, you must be bored of hearing me banging on about Salthouse bloody Bacaro by now. I swear they don’t pay me commission – they must have just spiked their croquettas with crack because I think about them at least 3 times every week. Me and mine have celebrated many a special occasion in the dimly lit, twinkling Aladdin’s cave of impeccable Venetian small plates and I implore you to do the same if you get the chance to.
We even took my brother’s Barcelonian girlfriend there one year who gave it the pulgares up so need I say more really? The diverse menu is extremely fluid and forever changing with the seasons but the Buttermilk Chicken is bangin’ in all past and present variations, as is the Fried Gnocchi and the Steak Fillet with Tempura Prawns. Miss you, Bacaro.
3. Vincent Café & Cocktail Bar
If we’re not in Bacaro, you’ll find just not too far across the road at the Vincent Café & Cocktail bar. With affiliations to LFC legend, Stevie G, it comes as no surprise that this eclectic eatery has earned itself quite the celebrity following. Not quite Nobu status but with sushi to end all sushi, this is a must for parties or special celebrations.
The edibles are outstanding through breakfast, lunch and dinner, covering tastes from Europe and Japan but Vincent’s also serves up a mean cocktail so when you’re done picking at your flaming April’s S’mores Board, navigate yourself to the swanky bar and pick your poison.
4. Sapporo Teppanyaki
Another staple in my celebratory repertoire is Sapporo Teppanyaki. There are a few of these around the country I think (I know there’s one in Manchester) and I’m most definitely not alone in calling up to make a reservation as soon as there’s any good reason to. Sapporo is pretty darn popular but with bloody good reason. Mixing teppanyaki theatrics (think pyrotechnics, flying potatoes and tomato ketchup pranks) with top drawer Asian cuisine, this really isn’t one to miss. Nor are the terriyaki chicken, the tuna sashimi or the chocolate spring rolls.
5. The Art School
Headed up by one of the North West’s most celebrated chefs, Paul Askew, The Art School is one of the hottest hangouts about town right now. Not hot in the sense of record-breaking dirty burger towers and craft beers from the furthest corners of the globe. Hot in the award-winning, fine dining sense of the word. Everybody wants a table at The Art School right now and sadly, I’m still on the list as I’m yet to go and check it out.
However with countless accolades under their belt already and plates that wouldn’t look out of place on a plinth in Tate Modern, I’m more than confident in my recommendation. There are various Art School menus on the table (quite literally), each with a fixed price so be sure to check those out beforehand. This really is one for those who love and appreciate the art of food on a whole other level to the avocado & poached eggs on toast squad.
6. Neighbourhood Liverpool
If I were to rank this list in order of cuisine quality, I’ve got to be honest and say that Neighbourhood Liverpool would probably be in the lower half somewhere but if you want food that looks fabulous, is a whole load of fun, tastes perfectly palatable (and then some) then sit yo’ ass down in one of their stunning velvet booths.
I have sampled the Cajun Spiced Chicken Lollipops, the mini sliders, the Miso Black Cod, the Chateaubriand and the Neighbourhood Chicken Dinner – all of which I would definitely eat again. I hear it’s the late night offering that elevates this venue to must-visit status though with its live music, Wes Anderson-esque decor and proper nawty cocktail list.
7. Alma de Cuba
Like I said, we will be heading to Alma on Sunday evening for a slap up birthday meal because we haven’t been there for quite a few years now and I think it’s about time we were reacquainted. From what I recall many moons ago, the food was just as beautiful as the converted church surroundings. I can’t think of anywhere else in the country you can eat dinner in such a stunning and unique space.
You really have to step inside to appreciate where I’m coming from but with high ceiling, stained glass and organ in tact, Alma de Cuba is certainly something special. Perhaps the best Piña Colada in town too, I might add. (Full review and photographs coming soon, have no fear!)
*Edit: Alma de Cuba was actually pretty rubbish when I went after writing this blog post but I’m not giving up on it just yet. Read more here.
8. Panoramic 34
I actually came to Panoramic 34 with my Pops for his birthday earlier this year where we tucked into a perfectly quintessential afternoon tea, 34 feet up in the air. If you’re hunting down the ‘wow factor’ then its extensive cocktail list, Instagram-worthy dishes and panoramic (ah, the penny drops) views over the city will not disappoint. Airing slightly more on the pricey side but hey, if you have to take a lift up to ear-popping heights to be seated at your table, it’s almost definitely going to be worth it.
Okay vegans/veggies look away because it’s about to get real carnivorous in here. If you’re the kind of diner whose eyeballs swivel straight to the Carne section of any restaurant menu, or the type of person who would sacrifice oxygen over steak, Fazenda is the one for you. Fazenda is your foodie soulmate. Just next door to Vincent’s Café actually in the city’s uptown commercial district, this stylish eatery serves up all-you-can-eat meat, Brazilian rodizio style. They’ve got the quantity (boy, have they got quantity down) but without any compromise on quality which is a combo that’s often quite challenging to come across.
Okay so this lot really is just a small handful of the places to eat in Liverpool that make that pair of EXTRA shoes and a 3 hour stint in the hair salon chair justified. So if you’ve got any must-go haunts or eateries you return to time and time again when you feel like being just a little bit fancy, leave them in the comments below.