Remember in my write up of the New York Empire Diner when I recounted my tender teenage years of stomping up Liverpool’s Bold Street with angsty pop punk blaring in my ear? Well when I wasn’t on my (not so) merry way to Eddie Rockets diner for some rather contrapuntal fifties jive and a malted Oreo shake, I was almost certainly headed to Quiggins.
For any Liverpudlians reading this – or those from the surrounding areas such as myself – Quiggs will need no introduction. It was a mecca for moshers, the holy grail for goths and the ultimate happy place for ’emos’ if such a thing should ever exist. It was the place were every single band tee you ever bought never quite lost the aroma of nag champa and where Doc Marten boots were the dress code.
As of last Friday, my dearly beloved Quiggins became Liverpool’s new Grand Central Food Bazaar. A bittersweet transformation in my eyes but one that transpired to be more sweet than bitter following our visit to the launch bash last week. Keep reading for my highlights thus far…
During the media buzz around the opening of the new Grand Central Food Bazaar, it was promised to be somewhere between Harrods Food Hall and Camden Market. Having visited both many times before, I can confirm that this preliminary analogy wasn’t totally off the mark but it wasn’t necessarily ‘bob on’ either. I wouldn’t say the Bazaar quite elevates itself to the decadence of the infamous Harrods dining hall but I can see where they’re coming from with the extravagant, Gaudi-inspired decor and Grade II-listed architecture.
While the venue itself is an incredible sandwich of ornamental layers, each with ample seating and bordered by inlets from where the food vendors work their magic, I’d say the vibe was definitely much closer to the urban charm of Camden Market. If you’ve been to Liverpool’s notorious Baltic Market, then imagine this kind of multi-vendor, street food assemblage but with a more grungy, antique kind of ambiance. More whimsical than hipster.
There are actually 12 pop-up restaurants across the three floors of the Bazaar, all of which I do fully intend to try out in due course. However on the night of the launch event, we were kindly given a couple of vouchers each (four between the two of us) with assigned vendors on. I thought this was a pretty cool way of encouraging guests to try something new and now I can divulge my personal edit of the best places to eat in the Grand Central Food Bazaar so far. In no particular order…
Funky Lemon – What originally started out as a catering company is now venturing into a standalone eatery and it has certainly got my backing. We had the Sweet Sticky Beef and Pancakes with Peanut Sauce (£12) and some parmesan-crusted FunkyLemon Fries (£4.50) with Saffron Aioli (free with the fries or £3 if you want it as an extra with your meal). Our beef was sweet and sticky as promised and the saffron dip with those crispy fries were to die for. The only thing I would say is that it seems very expensive for the portions being served up!
You’ve Pulled – I don’t know if it was the seductive name here or the lure of various pulled meats in bowls made of bread but I’m chuffed destiny lead me to pulling this one out the lucky bag. To quote its Facebook page, You’ve Pulled is a street food pop up specialising in pulled meat and boy, was this pulled meat special. We went for the Pulled Pork & Chorizo Bread Bowl (£9) with a side of Salt & Pepper Halloumi Fries (£5) and were left scrapping over the last morsels of the bowl which was hearty, delicious and quite clearly lovingly homemade.
We didn’t enjoy the halloumi fries so much as they were way, way too salty for our liking but hey, nobody is perfect and I’m sure these guys will finesse their recipes as they settle into the Bazaar. We actually met the girl who had served us in a bar at about 3am later that night (or morning) and over the ten-decibel soundtrack of of Beyonce’s Run the World, she told us about their plans for the future and I definitely think this one is one to watch.
The Little Macaron Shop – We did take a little detour from our assigned path of consumption and treated ourselves to something from The Little Macaron Shop because we’re longstanding fans and simply couldn’t resist their candy-coloured concession. We kept it classic with a handful of macarons but we’ll definitely be back to get our chops around a ‘Maclair‘ or two soon and yes, that is a combination of macaron and eclair.
The bar itself is perhaps one of the most impressive parts of the Grand Central Bazaar experience. Slap bang in the middle of the action, on the ground floor of the venue, surrounded by the various food stalls, the bar was a hive of activity. We just went for a simple Liverpool Gin and tonic while we made our way around the food stalls but from the looks of the well-stocked bar, I’m pretty confident you’d be left wanting for nothing.
There are a couple of other bars around the venue including the technicolour Hippy Hole pictured above so I imagine the Bazaar is going to become quite the hangout over the coming months. With the sun literally beaming through the windows and a Bakewell Gin and Hibiscus Tonic in hand, I definitely gave this place a big thumbs up and I’m looking forward to seeing how they evolve my old favourite haunt as it’s new brand and identity within the city continues to develop.
Check out this short video for more of what you can expect from the Bazaar:
I was very kindly invited to review the Grand Central Food Bazaar but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.