We can all agree on the fact that a hobby is something we do to escape the perils of the daily grind; it’s a little bit of self-indulgence in an otherwise stressful world. What we don’t all agree on however is what that hobby takes the form of and thank the Lord for that – queues would be snaking around blocks if everyone decided they liked beating the shit out of a badminton shuttlecock for fun.
I doubt it will come as a complete surprise to you to discover that sports aren’t my pastime of choice. I much prefer seeing if I can get a good rally going between my mush and a good dessert cocktail menu because food and drink is my little slice of retreat. As a result, I tend to dine out a lot more than your Average Joe which makes finding that extra special eatery for celebratory occasions that bit trickier.
So, when my birthday rolled around earlier this month and the question of lunch came up, I set to racking my brains. It’s not that I was stuck for choice – the Wirral and Liverpool are positively bursting with great places to eat right now but it had to be somewhere with a diverse menu, a strong cocktail offering, great food (duh) and somewhere that me and mine hadn’t been to for a good while. Last year it was Sapporo Teppanyaki, the year before that it was my beloved Salthouse Bacaro and this year the dice of dining out landed on an old favourite that we hadn’t been to for a couple of years: Hanover Street Social.
As the name suggests, the restaurant is located on the busy stretch of Hanover Street in Liverpool city centre. In my opinion, it’s the best eatery in this segment of the city so if you’re hitting the shops and looking for the best places to eat in Liverpool ONE, this one wins by a long shot. It was actually born from the same brains behind Salthouse Bacaro, Salthouse Tapas and the soon-to-be-launched Rocket & Ruby so if you’ve any experience of any of those, you’ll already have a good idea about the vibe and venue.
It’s classy, sophisticated and quite clearly a cut above other restaurants in the vicinity (perhaps on par with Côte) but still accessible to a diverse audience and undeniably cool. Plush velvet curtains drape along the floor, filament bulbs enhance its synonymous sultry atmosphere and bistro-style tables come together with an open kitchen to make for a fine example of the modern brasserie.
What actually sparked our decision to make a reservation at Hanover Street Social was a conversation about Amaretto Sours. My other half and I were regaling a particularly stressful day we had both had at work about 3 years ago now which culminated in a couple of Amaretto Sours cocktails at Hanover Street Social. The drinks transpired to be the best Amaretto Sours we had ever had and as is obvious, we’re still gushing about them to this day.
I was disappointed to find that the notorious Sours had been taken off the cocktail list when we arrived this time round but I asked our waitress to see if the bartender would shake one up anyway for me and sure as egg whites are egg whites, he did. Delicious it was too. I followed this up with a Hazelnut Whip (£7.50) which was an equally enjoyable muddle of Frangelico, creme de cacao white, Baileys, milk cream and nutmeg.
As far as the Hanover Street Social food menu is concerned, this too was every bit as fabulous as I had remembered. As I said earlier, this restaurant is the sibling of Salthouse Bacaro which is my ultimate Liverpool dining experience right now but HSS has its own personality. The menu is made up of classic dishes, including small plates and larger plates, with notable French, British and American influences.
Around our table for four, we went for a peppery Leek & Potato Soup with Artisan Bread, Calamari with Tomato & Chilli Ketchup (£6.50), Spiced Hoisin Ribs (£6.50) and Garlic & Parmesan Loaf (£2.50) to start. For mains, we picked out the Roast Chicken with Smoked Cheddar Mash & Wilted Garlic Greens from the fixed lunch menu and the Carved Chargrilled Fillet of Beef with Dauphinoise & Wild Mushroom (£19.95) and the Roast Chicken with Fondant Potato, Cheesy Garlic Bon Bon & Tenderstem Broccoli (£13.95) from the a la carte.
Mine was the latter and as you can see from the zealously scraped plate below, I enjoyed it so much I totally forgot to photographically immortalise it for Instagram first. Whoops.
Portion sizes were perfect, seasoning was done with a generous hand, sauces were rich and luxurious, batters were light, meats were cooked to perfection and every dish that came over the pass was presented beautifully. The only thing I took exception to was the garlic bread which was surprising small, completely hollow, overly oily and hard as a bullet but other than that starters and mains were de-lish.
The guys at Hanover Street Social really took the concept of saving the best ‘til last when it came to ordering desserts as the four of us unanimously picked out the Malteser Crème Brulee (£5.50)…
Yes, you read that currently – Malteser Crème Brulee – and it was every bit as devilish and indulgent as it sounds. Not just a standard crème brulee with crushed Maltesers on top as I was slightly suspicious of but a heavenly layer of malted custard, topped with a sheet of caramelised sugar and crowned with an ample scattering of smashed Maltesers.
Completely and utterly divine and an absolute must if you’re heading here any time soon.