Two common misconceptions about me: that my name is Harriet and that I live in Liverpool, both of which is entirely my fault, setting up a blog called Hungry Harriet and forever harping on about the best places to eat in Liverpool I guess. The truth? My name is Steph and I actually live on a tiny little peninsula called the Wirral about 30 minutes away from Liverpool in the car and 3 years by public transport.
The Wirral is only home to about 321,000 people and you could travel around all of it about three times in one day but while it’s small in size, it’s still mighty when it comes to the food and drink scene. You’ve got The Viking with its Scandi cuisine, Whitmore & White for a drink & a deli board, Aubergine Cafe for THOSE Raspberry & White Chocolate Pancakes and Barton Rouge for the best Indian fare by a long shot.
Just when you think there can’t possibly be room for any more bars or restaurants on this tiny little coastal nook of the big wide world, up pops Est Italian on Banks Road in West Kirby…
Nestled in amongst a very residential area of the pretty seaside town, Est Italian might look a little out of place to the fresh eyes of a visitor. However, as a local of more than 25 years, I thought nothing of being able to wave at somebody looking out of their bedroom window as we settled down at our table for three at the front of the restaurant.
It was pushing 33 degrees and the sun was cracking the flags outside on this particular day so the vibe and atmosphere were everything you would want from a restaurant by the beach. People were clinking glasses of chilled white wine outside on the decking and there was a warm, salty breeze whipping through the restaurant which complimented the authentic Italian music just perfectly.
I can’t imagine thunder clouds would work quite the same magic for the ambience but Est Italian is still a well-presented eatery nonetheless.
Italians are typically celebrated for their aperitifs, rich liquors and zesty spirits but after spotting a creamy, dessert cocktail on the extensive drinks list, resistance wasn’t a fight worth fighting. The menu promised something along the lines of Baileys, Kahlua and cream but unfortunately, what actually arrived was nothing much more than a glass of milk and ice, with a barely-there suggestion of alcohol in the background. Our waiter was quick to rectify our quibble though and returned with a couple of complimentary cocktails with a much more potent flavour.
When reviewing restaurants – particularly independents in my local area – I try to focus on the positives and help build around the best bits of their brand. In doing so, I try to not to pitch them against chains or what might be considered direct competitors but I just couldn’t help wishing that my feeble cocktail at Est Italian was one of Gusto Heswall’s rich and indulgent Salted Caramel Russians.
The theme of comparison against Gusto which I tried so hard to push to the back of my mind continued throughout the meal but I don’t want to make that a pivotal part of my write up. So, let me do things a little bit back to front and start by concluding that if you’re looking for the best Italian food on the Wirral, I wouldn’t say Est Italian quite hits the bar which has already been set so high.
Having said that, most of our food was perfectly palatable and certain elements downright delicious so let’s now focus on the positives of which there were plenty…
The first thing to note is the versatility and size of the Est Italian food menu – from seafood and steak to pasta and pizza, there is a great deal to choose from no matter which region of Italian gastronomy you prefer to frequent. We kept it quite classic and went for a Garlic & Mozzarella Pizza Bread (£4.95) and some Calamari Fritti (£6.55) to start, followed by the Spaghetti Bolognese (£9.95), the Pasta al Forno (£11.75) with chicken & broccoli, and the Pollo e Asparagi (£13.95) – chicken & asparagus – for mains.
When eating at a restaurant of a particular cultural cuisine for the first time – in this case, Italian – I always think it’s a good idea to put their classic dishes through their paces so that’s exactly what we did. The Spaghetti Bolognese came out on top, followed closely by the Pollo e Asparagi which came with a delicious white sauce but my baked Pasta al Forno dish was pretty bland and unremarkable. The roast potatoes that came as a side with the chicken were absolutely knockout however so all in all, a bit of a mixed bag.
I’d say our entire experience at Est Italian was very much mixed-bag material. The venue is a very pleasant place to be, the food and drink menus are packed with variety and there is definitely potential in a majority of the dishes. The restaurant has only been open for about a year (I think) so I really hope to see it continue to grow and flourish over the coming months.