Arty Eateries and Cuppas
As you know we spend a lot of our time trekking around the streets of Liverpool during the days and evenings keeping up to date with all the latest art happenings. This means we often have to rely on the local cafes, restaurants, bars etc. to provide sustenance. Fortunately some galleries come with attached refreshment areas and there’s a plethora of choices in the city centre.
We thought that our readers may be interested to read our views (maybe even recommendations) on some of the places on offer.
First on the list is…
Upstairs at the Bluecoat
The Bluecoat now has two dining areas, there’s ‘Espresso‘ in the Hub on the ground floor for the quick, light snacks during the day but for more substantial fayre and fine dining you need to go up to the first floor to the appropriately named ‘Upstairs‘.
As venues go, you can’t get much more arty than the Bluecoat and there’s nice views of the garden on one side and the courtyard on the other but apart from the individually designed coffee tables there’s not a lot of visual art in evidence. The manager, Michael Heaven, though told us that more artworks will be filling the blank spaces on the walls soon.
The restaurant / bar is open 11.30-18.00 on Sunday and Monday with the popular Sunday lunch being served 11.30-15.00. On Tuesday to Saturday opening times are 11.30-23.00 (last orders 22.00). Lunch menu 11.30-15.00, Afternoon tea 15.00-17.30 and Dinner 18-23.00.
There’s a separate menu for each period, the Sunday Lunch is especially popular with families, partly as there’s not that many restaurants in town where you can get a proper 2 or 3 course Sunday roast dinner with a good cheap kids menu too. People rave about the Sticky toffee pudding apparently.
Some important things to note here are that ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible and also cooked using the traditional local recipes, Hesketh Bank new season lamb has to be cooked the Hesketh Bank way.
Everything is made fresh on the day and the menu is seasonal. Also, and this is most important for us Vegans and others with dietary needs, the chef, Matthew Burns, is happy to adapt to requests or special requirements, though its always good to give notice of course.
So what did we have when we visited last week? Well, we went at lunch time and followed our usual routine of ordering separate dishes then sharing. We started with the Roasted Barrow Farm carrot, beetroot, blood orange & chard salad (this normally comes with a truffled honey dressing) and Balsamic cherry tomatoes with chicory salad (normally includes goats’ cheese). Both very tasty dishes, beetroot and orange is a great combination.
For the main course we had a specially made vegan risotto with purple sprouting broccoli, the rice was perfectly cooked and flavoured with plenty of garlic – just the way we like it.
Also an adapted version of the Baked aubergine with tomato and basil which had extra veg instead of the usual cheddar cheese. The basil was added to olive oil and poured over the aubergines like pesto, delicious.
They serve Illy coffee at the Bluecoat, you can’t go wrong with that.
Other lunchtime choices include a platter of Liverpool Bay cockles with trout, mackerel and salmon; Goosnargh chicken; Angus steak and the very popular ‘real’ chips cooked in dripping. The evening Dinner menu is very similar to lunchtime but without the ‘light lunch’ options.
We also had a very nice red wine with our lunch and its worth mentioning the Bluecoat has a consultant sommelier, Hamish Anderson who is wine writer for GQ, Decanter and the Telegraph.
Obviously, adaptable menus, finest, local, in-season ingredients doesn’t come cheap, this is quality dining (there service is pretty good too by the way) but I think prices are on a par with other good restaurants in the area. Perhaps though, many of the Bluecoat visitors hark back to the days of the cheap and basic quiche and salad days of the old cafe before the refurbishment and may be reluctant to pay these prices for their lunch but there’s always the afternoon tea and scone option. Its an ideal place for special occasions or pre-event meal (the bluecoat performance area is the next room).