the london carriage works, liverpool


over the recent bank holiday weekend we visited liverpool and had a superb meal at the london carriage works, the restaurant attached to the hope street hotel.

the restaurant has a brasserie and a fine dining space. we chose fine dining, which provides a three-course menu for £55 per person.

shortly after we were seated, a selection of lovely aperitifs arrived. olives (excellent), parmesan wafers, smoked salmon blini stacks, mini bacon pizzas, shrimps with crisp breads and most excitingly a pea soup served atop a clear mint jelly.

this was followed by an amuse bouche of richly flavoured calves liver parfait with warm rosemary jelly (the second jelly to feature). the parfait was served as a teaspoon-sized quenelle but given the richness and depth of flavour it was more than ample and a lovely way to prepare for our meal.

to start, david ordered pan-seared blue fin tuna with asparagus and a citrus hollandaise. the asparagus and hollandaise were clearly in attendance but the tuna was served in a style that was more reminiscent of a tartare – uncooked, cubed salmon (fantastically fresh) in a mound and topped with an egg yolk. the dish was lovely but not as advertised which resulted in david “getting through it” rather than savouring each mouthful.

my starter of pan-roasted rhug estate chicken with sautéed liver, glazed broad beans and a natural hazelnut yoghurt dressing was more successful. it was delicious, the hazelnut yoghurt dressing was particularly divine, working well with both the chicken and the beans. i’ll be recreating this at home.

for his main course, david decided on the rhug estate chicken – this time a large portion of breast meat with dry-cure bacon, pea puree, spatzle and onion foam. again the combination of flavours worked incredibly well and the balance of the dish was just right.

my main was loin of iron age rare breed duroc pork with asparagus and girolles with hot onion gravy (you guessed it, more jelly!). i’m not a fan of pork, finding it flavourless much of the time (pork belly being the exception) and am always curious to see if restaurants are able to wring more flavour out of the meat than i can. lcw served me a tasty and moist piece of meat but it was the accompaniments that shone with their punchy spring flavours.

after our main courses were cleared we were served with shot glasses of red fruit soup, which were topped-up with prosecco. this was a lovely idea and something else that i’ll try at home.

having spotted the abundant petit fours being served to other tables i decided to forgo pudding. luckily david didn’t and we shared (it always happens!) a generous portion of toffee-roasted pear with pear crisps, coulis and salt caramel ice cream. again, this was another well-balanced richly-flavoured dish, with the pear crisps and their intense flavour being my favourite component. the ice cream was good too... and the toffee pears... you get the picture!

those petit fours were an excellent way to finish – exceptionally thin wafers flavoured with toffee, fruit and chocolate serve with a mix of 5 small chocolates and cakes. all delicious.

all that plus a selection of very reasonably priced drinks (a bottle of austrian gruner veltliner, a glass of red wine to accompany my pork, a couple of glasses of dessert wine and a large lagavulin) bought the bill to just over £150. not cheap but not a price i begrudged paying given the deliciousness of the food. next time i’m in liverpool i’ll be going back…

the other meal i had been excited about when planning our trip, was at simply heathcotes. if you’re in town and thinking about going – don’t bother. the restaurant has the atmosphere of an almost-empty pizza express and the food just isn’t up to scratch. save your money and treat yourself at the london carriage works instead. or go to pizza express.

the london carriage works

40 hope street, liverpool l1 9da

telephone: 0151 705 2222