Housed in the former Home for Destitute Children (circa 1888), this beautifully appointed restaurant pays homage to the building’s more recent role as an art school, with commissioned works by former students covering the walls.
It’s the food that has readers (and ourselves) reaching for the superlatives, though. Much of the credit must go to chef patron Paul Askew, who arrived here following an 11-year stint at the nearby London Carriage Works and possesses an unmatched level of commitment in developing the next generation of culinary talent. A well-known face from television cookery shows such as Saturday Kitchen and Celebrity Masterchef, Paul champions seasonal and local ingredients to ensure each dish tastes as good as it looks.
Seasonal canapés and a glass of Heidsieck Champagne kick off the ‘menu excellence’, before a procession of dishes notable for their robust and often challenging flavours: corn fed Goosnargh duck with foie gras, rhubarb, peas, baby gem lettuce, beetroot and burnt orange purees; halibut with Claremont Farm asparagus, crust of Filey crab and sauce vierge; salted caramel mille feuille with popcorn ice cream, and coconut parfait with rum roasted pineapple and Pina Colada gel. There are fine British cheeses too, served with quince and truffle-scented Two Liverpool Cathedral’s honey, if you have room. Locals looking for a bit of variety ought to keep an eye out for guest chef dinners, which come up fairly regularly.
Afternoon tea in the cellars is another draw. Gourmet sandwiches, such as roast Southport smokehouse pork with mustard mayonnaise and fresh apple on pain cereal, are served alongside a selection of beautiful desserts including Baileys cream chouquette and gateau opera, and cherry scones served with clotted cream and strawberry and Tahitian vanilla jam. Vegetarians get their own menus, and there are pescatarian and vegan menus too. An authoritative list of international wines completes the experience which is, forgive us, artfully done.