The Side Door Review
I’m clutching my, now defunct, 2010 michelin guide, reviewing the 10 Liverpool restaurants that made it into this edition. Certain restaurants always seem to get top billing, while offering decidedly indifferent food. These restaurants have excellent websites, run great offers and are always being talked about. While others, do what restaurants should do best, serve good food. The Side Door has been quietly going about its business for a number of years, taking over a restaurant that was once called Beaches Brook and considered by many to be the best in Liverpool. It has now firmly secured itself as quality restaurant in its own right, and possibly the best on Hope Street, if not the city.
For me the key to a good restaurant is consistency, I want my expectations to be met every time I eat there. I don’t wont to go in once for a good meal and the next time have something that is average at best. it doesn’t matter if its fine dining or a big fat kebab as long as it meets my expectations. Plenty of restaurants in Liverpool, especially the more expensive ones, fail to get this right, while others do it really well. The Side Door is one of those restaurants that does it well, a modern british bistro serving very good food every day.
Starters like the Crispy Gernard on greek salad (£6.75), perfectly cooked fish still translucent in the centre served on a lovely crisp salad, showed understanding and skill. The scallops with chorizo and cauliflower puree (£6.95) was very good, again perfectly cooked with delicate mingling flavours countered by salty, but not over powering, chorizo. The smoked salmon linguini (£6.75), was well made and tasty if a touch oily, however the pasta was tagliatelle which, although still good, wasn’t what was on the menu.
The main courses showed dishes that demonstrated simple food like the grilled plaice, which was a great quality fish and chips. The plain grilled fish had a great salsa accompaniment that was sweet and sharp, the chips where crunchy and fluffy on the inside. The harissa roasted cod (£15.95) was, again, perfectly cooked and accompanying lentils and yoghurt made for an excellent dish. The veal escallop (£15.95) was perfectly cooked, slightly pink in the centre, the sweet peperonata and beautifully soft mash full of olive oil it came with were excellent.
After good starters and mains, so many times before, puddings have been a stumbling block in reputable restaurants, either made with little skill or, even worse, bought in. However, this wasn’t the case. The white peaches in amaretto (£6.25) where soft, tender and sweet with a pleasing crunch from the biscuit and a great accompanying vanilla ice cream. The chocolate tart (£6.25), had the potential to be heavy and rubbery, but this dark and sweet filling was deceptively light, encased in crumbly and delicate pastry.
This was a very good meal, and a few month earlier I had a good meal and the time before that I had a good meal. The food at The Side Door shows skill both in construction and conception, but this is nothing without consistency. If a restaurant claims to offer high quality food, but only achieves its marketing hype occasionally it only severs as a stick with which to beat itself. This, I feel, is too often the case in Liverpool, restaurants that flirt with the concept of fine dining rarely seem to seal the deal. The Side Door doesn’t do that, it serves very good food consistently with great service. Is it the best restaurant on Hope Street? Yes. Is it the best in Liverpool? Maybe.