Local guides

Where to eat in Liverpool: Culinary pyrotechnics and arresting flavours
Published 11 May 2022

Credit: Shutterstock

One of the great port cities of Europe, Liverpool was once at the very crossroads of international commerce, a history reflected in its majestic waterfront architecture. Two famous bronze birds keep watch on top of the Liver Building, relative newcomers at just over a century old, one guarding the city itself, the other its maritime approaches.

The creative ferment of the 1960s projected Liverpool, via the Merseybeat scene, into the vanguard of British musical culture, an unbroken line that runs from Gerry and the Pacemakers to the Coral, via a certain 'four lads who shook the world', memorialised in the Mathew Street wall shrine. Through periods of economic adversity, the city has retained a tangible community spirit of the kind that has generally faded to the margins of the modern metropolis, and its regeneration in recent years has been as dynamic and as diverse as you would expect of a place that boasts a pair of cathedrals, one at either end of Hope Street.

It's fair to say that, until relatively recently, as far as its restaurant scene was concerned, Liverpool languished in the shadow of its great north-western rival, Manchester. No longer. If the people have a reputation for being ribaldly suspicious of pretension, in the era of molecular cooking and its oddities, the city has developed something like a Liverpool cuisine.

Strawberries, hay and aged balsamic
Credit: Röski

Hard by the Philharmonic Hall, the Art School has the feel of walking on to a stage set. Bare bulbs dangle from the vast skylight, and a kitchen window affords peeps of Paul Askew's team at work producing exquisitely presented contemporary British food with arresting flavours. Over in the Georgian quarter, Anton Piotrowski's Röski is a modern dining-room done in muted neutrals for cooking that is anything but. Expect culinary pyrotechnics with witty twists on northern tradition, starting with the indispensable duck egg and duck leg soldiers.

Head to the Dockside for Delifonseca, a food hall and dining venue about to stretch into extended premises as we write, with a global snacking menu that reflects the city's cosmopolitanism. Authentic Catalan tapas are the order of the day at Lunya in the amorphous Liverpool One shopping development, and there's now a younger sibling, Lunyalita, in the Albert Dock arts quarter, a 200-year-old building with arched ceilings and terrace seating for sun-seekers. A little to the north along the waterfront, Etsu does classic Japanese, from sushi to donburi boxes, in an ambience of sleek understatement. Liam and Ellis Barrie, once of the beguiling Marram Grass in north Wales, have also pitched up to the dock, opening Lerpwl in 2020.

Truffled parmesan chips
Truffled Parmesan chips. Credit: Wreckfish / Instagram

Gary Usher has a finger in the Liverpool pie too, at Wreckfish, where affordable modern bistro cooking proves abidingly popular (don't miss the truffled Parmesan chips), and the melting-pot brasserie dishes at various branches of the Maray group have plenty of broad-minded appeal. Belzan is a neighbourhood bistro in Wavertree with whitewashed brickwork and a menu of robust St John-style dishes – anyone for lamb heart and tahini?

The latest news is that a fourth national iteration of Will Beckett and Huw Gott's Hawksmoor will open in Liverpool later in 2022 in part of the repurposed India Buildings near James Street station.

All this, and Jürgen Klopp too. What are you waiting for?

- Stuart Walton