I employ many F words as part of my daily vocabulary but ‘football’ certainly isn’t one of them – unless of course it’s to say oh for F’s sake, there isn’t more football on is there?! I do however come from a family of football fanatics who have championed Liverpool FC since the very early days so it’s not completely unfamiliar to me.
I mean, I definitely don’t understand the offside rule and ‘five-a-side’ sounds more to me like a tapas date with a bunch of friends on a Friday night when calorie counting has gone right out the window. Translate it into my own language though and you’ve got my attention…
You may be wondering why the rather random football analogy and no, it’s not because I’ve been brainwashed by the recent World Cup shenanigans. It’s actually because the Bastion Bar & Restaurant to which this review is dedicated to resides within the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool city centre. As the name implies, the luxury hotel is essentially one great big shrine to the late Bill Shankly who managed LFC to fame during the sixties and seventies.
It’s everything you might anticipate of an uptown sports-themed hospitality venue in Liverpool. Upholstered leather, crushed velvet and twinkling floor lights provide the backdrop to an array of Bill Shankly memorabilia. It’s not something I’m particularly emotionally invested in but I can see why it’s a real pull for visitors and locals alike.
It’s a well-polished venue and a real novelty as a football fan but I wasn’t there to reminisce on the bygone times of Liverpool’s greatest football club (I have to say that because I know my dad will be reading this). I was there to check out The Bastion’s brand new summer menus and as a diner, I might have liked to have seen a clearer segregation between bar and restaurant.
It was a rather strange dining experience being sandwiched between two raucous hen parties, one in fancy dress and watching Wonder Woman extract gold lycra shorts from her derriere while sloshing a pint of beer around precariously. Luckily though, the food transpired to be a delicious distraction.
For starters we went for the Pressing of Confit Duck Leg & Chicken with Pineapple Jam, Duck Ham & Ciabatta (£8) and the Baked Kidderton Ash Goat’s Cheese with Red Wine Onion Jam, Walnut Praline and Focaccia Chips (£7.50). Had you read these dishes – and a majority of the other plates – on the menu beforehand, you’d be forgiven for suspecting it may be a little pretentious. However I can absolutely confirm that the food at The Bastion has all the substance to match the style.
While the confit duck and chicken pressing was a tad unappealing on the eye (but delicious nonetheless I’m assured), my baked goat’s cheese was as beautiful as it was tasty with edible flowers to boot. There could have been more of the walnut praline to compliment the molten cheese as it was just a mere suggestion around the edge of the plate but hey, maybe that’s just me being greedy.
Moving onto mains, we had a Grass-fed Sirloin Steak with Skinny Fries (£2.50) & Peppercorn Cream Sauce (£3.50) and a dish which I want to champion as the highlight of my experience at The Bastion bar and restaurant – Curried Parsnip Pancakes with Grilled Paneer, Garlic Creamed Spinach, Sticky Piccolo Parsnips & Curry Oil (£14.50). The steak was great and perfectly cooked to my partner in dine’s requirements but my parsnip pancakes completely an utterly commandeered the limelight.
I was in two minds about choosing this dish, torn right down the middle. I was being heavily seduced by the Pan-roasted Chicken with Smoked Onion & Duck Fat Potatoes (£17.50) but growing more and more curious about the Curried Parsnip Pancakes as I sipped my G&T. It’s not a dish I’ve ever seen on a menu anywhere before and after falling in love with paneer cheese at Barton Rouge last year, I decided to bite the bullet. Boy, was I glad I did.
I had quite literally no idea about how this plate was going to come but as part of my plight to choose more vegetarian options and diversify my palate, I decided I was willing to find out. Would it be a stack of fluffy pancakes with pureed root veg as it’s batter mix? Or would it be more like a savoury crêpe with a diced-up muddle of parsnip and paneer? Was this unusual combination of ingredients even going to work?!
It did work. It worked very, very well. The pancakes were actually more akin to a rosti and came as two patties of shredded parsnip and a strong curry flavour, topped with fingers of grilled paneer and more sticky roasted parsnip on top. Underneath was a bed of flavoursome garlic greens which packed a serious punch and a drizzle of fragrant curry oil around the edge. The dish was definitely rich and extremely indulgent but one I have not forgotten since eating it and that is the true mark of culinary expertise I say.
Still on a high from my knockout choice of mains, I didn’t know if anything from the dessert menu would match up but once again, The Bastion shattered my cynicism to smithereens. My partner in dine opted for the White Chocolate Mousse with blackberry and shortbread (£6.50) which was a stunning deconstruction of what we had anticipated. The white chocolate mousse came as a trio of different textures and made for the perfect light dessert after a hearty slab of steak.
I, on the other hand, naturally went for the most sticky, rich and indulgent member on the menu and felt my eyes widen as the waitress placed my glistening slice of Salted Caramel Tart with Pistachio Ice Cream (£6.50) down in front of me. This was di-vine; so divine I just had to break the laws of semantics just to emphasise how delicious this dessert was. I ate it in teeny tiny slivers on my spoon just to make it last longer and even then it wasn’t long enough.
I’ll be returning to The Bastion just for some more parsnip & paneer pancakes and another slice of that heavenly caramel tart!
There isn’t too much I can say about the bar at The Bastion as it just wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’m not a huge drinker and only really get excited about an eclectic gin menu like the one at The Hollies or a great dessert cocktail like my current favourite Salted Caramel Russian at Gusto and this particularly bar offering didn’t quite tickle my pickle. It’s a lot of fun and there are plenty of cocktails on there that I’m sure will make a mean snap for Instagram but it’s clear the drinks are definitely more tailored to the revellers and party animals than the diners.
We ordered a glass of white wine to the table which came warm and was replaced by a bottle of San Miguel which was also room temperature. This was a little disappointing but I am going to make a return trip to the Shankly Hotel to its rooftop terrace where I’m told there is a whole host of botanical-inspired cocktails served in plant pots…
We were kindly given a quick tour of the rooftop venue but decided to just hang around to admire the incredible panoramic views of the city so a quick tipple atop of The Shankly Hotel is in order once the sun comes back out I think.
I was very kindly invited to review The Shankly Hotel Bastion Bar and Restaurant but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.