When birthdays, bank holidays, anniversaries… literally anything comes around in our household, it’s time to book a table at Liverpool’s best tapas restaurant. Seriously, we will embrace any excuse to head down to Salthouse Bacaro which explains why this isn’t the first time my beloved Bacaro has featured on the blog. With a few changes to the menu and some food-based diversions on my part, I thought it high time to grace you with a little update after a recent trip there to toast my mum’s birthday in small plate style.
With Bacaro’s elegant and elaborate Bellini Bar luring us in from the bottom right of the menu and with birthday celebrations in full swing, it would have been rude not to peruse our dinner options over a glass of fizz. Around the table we went for a Cinnamon Apple Bellini (a winter special, I presume) and an Elderflower Bellini (£6.95) complete with edible crystal rim. The birthday girl and I actually opted for a Queen of Hearts cocktail (£7.25) which comprised of Chambord, strawberry liquor and cream. Not my favourite dessert-style cocktail but still on the market if you’ve got a particularly sweet tooth.
As I mentioned in my previous review of Salthouse Bacaro, the premise of the restaurant is shareable small plates with a heavy Venetian influence. The casual dining style complements the rustic, snug decor perfectly and means the dishes comes to the table as and when they’re prepared. The comprehensive (and seasonally changeable) menu is segmented into what can roughly be translated as appetizers, breads, mains, sides and desserts but you really can’t afford to be set in your traditional three-course ways here.
From the Spuntini menu, which I guess you could class as starters, we went for some of the Braised Beef Croquettas (because we can’t visit Bacaro without doing so) and some of the delicious Pancetta Croquettas (£1.50 each). These are an absolute staple whenever we go here and the ideal morsel to amuse your bouche while you wait. We also ordered the Honey Chorizo (£4.95) and some Crispy Fried Gnocchi with Harissa (£3.95) because again, they’re both well-deserved favourites. The former is a heavenly, sticky medley of sweet and salt; the latter with a real fiery kick to tickle your tastebuds.
For what you could potentially pigeonhole as ‘mains’ if needs be, we went for a mixture of dishes from both Meat, Fish and Pizzette lists. The pizzettes are miniature pizzas that satisfy those insatiable carb cravings perfectly without making you too full for anything else. They also come as gluten free upon request which is a nice touch. We went for the Blue Cheese, Crispy Potato, Caramelised Red Onion & Rosemary Pizzette (£5.50) and believe me when I say it was to die for. Not too heavy on the blue cheese but still copious in seasoning and herby flavour.
I also devoured the Buttermilk Chicken Milanese with Mac & Cheese and Pancetta (£7.95) which was equally as divine as the rest and sat alongside another masterpiece from the Meat menu: the Carpaccio of Beef with Beetroot Ketchup, Jalapeno Avocado Puree, Puffed Wild Rice and Parmesan (£6.95). There is plenty of choice on the menu for the herbivores out there though; one of the standout vegetarian plates being the Chestnut Hummus with Pickled Apricot, Chestnut Pesto and warm garlic flatbread (£5.25) pictured a bit below. That’s one of the things I love most about the Bacaro way of doing things – you can easily mix hot and cold, meat and non-meat and it just… works.
From the Fish list we ordered Roast Salmon with Liquorice, Grapefruit, Roast Parnsip Puree and Charred Romanesco (£6.95) and the Pan Fried Hake with Mushroom Puree, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms and Crispy Chicken Skin Crumb (£7.50). I didn’t actually delve into either of those plates as I was keeping the dessert I had spotted earlier at the forefront of my mind but I’m told they were delicious and clean plates were the proof in the pudding. Speaking of pudding…
Would you just look at that Chocolate Mousse complete with Hazelnut Ice Cream, Honeycomb and Smoked Maldon Salt (£5.50). Yes, it was every bit as lip-smacking and indulgent as it sounds. I perhaps wouldn’t brandish it a mousse – it was more light fondant than airated – but still pretty much perfect. Smokey flakes of Maldon salt cut through the sweetness beautifully, while nutty ice cream gave an almost natural edge. It arrived at our table with two Affogato (£5.50) which again, is a Salthouse staple for me and mine. One part espresso, one part Amaretto and three parts vanilla ice cream makes for the perfect finale for the coffee connoisseurs out there.
Not pictured in this post: the ceramic tapas dish filled to the bubbling brim with Slow Braised Beef Lasagne (£6.95) and the Board of Iberico Chorizo (£6.50) that were clearly too irresistible to hang around for photographs. As with each and every dish on the Salthouse Bacaro menu, these plates come with a certain finesse and authenticity that I’m yet to find at any other tapas joint in the city. Every garnish is placed with expert care, every morsel of food is seasoned and cooked to perfection and with such a sophisticated and well-thought-out drinks repertoire, it’s going to be hard for anybody to ever come close.
See you again soon, Bacaro!
(Here are some other restaurants for a special occasion in Liverpool if you’re interested!)