As you’ll probably have gathered by now, I’m a bit of a creature of habit. I find my favourite restaurants, bars and cafes and then hang around them like a bad smell. Look closely enough and you might even find my fingerprint indented on the menus at places like Mowgli where I’ve done that weird pointy thing we all do at the item we’re ordering when the waiter comes over many a time before. Having torn myself a new one just there, I do actually get super excited when there’s something new on the scene to try too and latest in line is Craft Minded.
Branding itself as a Taproom & Bottle Shop, Craft Minded is an Aladdin’s cave of artisan spirits and craft beers from light, blonde brews to deep dark ales. I’m not a beer drinker so I took my trusty drinking partner along to sample the predominant offering but I did have my head turned by the Ginsmiths of Liverpool Marshmallow Gin after loving my Naked Marshmallow distill so much. Unfortunately there wasn’t any for me to sample on the day but eyeballing my way around the renovated Cain’s Brewery building was enough to distract me from throwing a bitch fit about it.
The nostalgic homage to Liverpool’s rich history in brewing was enough to keep me all warm and fuzzy inside – or maybe it was the blankets were handed to bundle under in the chilly warehouse-style space. If beer is your poison of choice, you’re going to go mad for the extensive repertoire on offer but have no fear, there’s plenty on offer for those who aren’t so into their craft brews and independent ales.
Despite having it made explicitly clear on more than one (two, three or four) occasions that here at Craft Minded beer is the star of the show, the edible morsels we so cheekily road tested were pretty decent too. As the Kourtney Kardashian to the Kylie Jenner of what these guys have to offer, the finger food-style dishes are designed to compliment the beverage and come with a kick of health-consciousness that you might not expect from a burly taproom and brew bar. I mean, I can’t claim that the small plates were quite up to Salthouse Bacaro or Courtyard Bar & Kitchen standards but they still went down with audible satisfaction.
They do say, if you want to know what a person cares about most, look at what they take photographs of and being the non-beer drinker I was born to be, I obviously came away with an SD card full of foodie photos. So allow me to give you a quick run down of what we ate and I’ll do my best to explaining the beer pairing that was going on next to me while I greedily tucked in.
So first up was chargrilled asparagus wrapped in carpaccio beef and drizzled in truffle sauce – not my personal fav’ as asparagus and truffle is high up on the list of these-don’t-pass-my-lips with beer, coffee and avocado. However for those who dig those ingredients, I’m assured the taste was as enjoyable as the presentation. It came paired with a dark, nutty stout that our host cooed over as a more refined alternative to Guinness. Second in line was some sun-dried tomato and ricotta crostini which came alongside a smoked porter that had a toasted almond kind of aftertaste.
The final plate I was lucky enough to sample gave us a little taste of what’s to come in the warmer months from the brainboxes at Craft Minded and it came in the form of a Salmon Taco complete with Asian slaw, Harissa, chillies and guac. Not being a huge fan of anything made with avocado (as you already know) or chilled salmon for that matter, you’d probably be as surprised as I was to find this was my favourite dish. It was fresh, tasty but with a little heat from the spice – delicious.
The Salmon Taco sat pretty in the shadows of a citrus IPA that was both light and refreshing in colour and flavour. As I said earlier, I’m not a beer drinker but our host’s ability to marry something edible with one of their beers was pretty damn faultless. This level of attention to detail is exactly what pushes my buttons. I can see this is going to be quite the hub of activity come summer when the Baltic Triangle isn’t so…well, baltic!
All in all, the Liverpool food and drink scene has struck again in providing something out of the box, uber cool and built on a strong foundation of passion. I think so many of the new(ish) bars and eateries in the city have achieved their cult following (Maray, Mowgli, Santa Chuptios, Moose Cafe, the Baltic Market, Lucha Libre…) because the brains behind them are even more in love with them than their customers are. Or maybe it’s the other way round – maybe it’s because the hungry revelers adore them so much that the brands just keep on blossoming.
Either way, it’s the happiest marriage I’ve come across thus far and a fountain of love that I’m well ‘appy to be drinking and eating from on the reg’.
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