A fleeting trip to Liverpool for a family party meant that I could scout out a couple of good places to eat and drink for the weekend. As you might have figured out, I like to taste my way around new places, and I'm most definitely one of those people who comes back from holiday fatter, not fitter.
Free Waitrose coffee firmly in place in the cup holder, off we went through wind and rain, competitively counting Eddie Stobart's along the way (I lost - by quite a few). Having set off on empty tummies, first stop was breakfast. Indie run Bold Street Coffee has quite a reputation in the city, three years in a row they have won best coffee shop in the Liverpool Food & Drink Awards, so it was a no brainer really. Having always been a fan of the caffeinated bean, I'm finding myself more particular on how I like my daily cup these days. I'm not opposed to the big chains such as Costa or Cafe Nero (I never go to Starbucks though), but the whole queuing to order, queuing to take your own coffee to the table kind of thing isn't a pleasant experience when you're trying to enjoy the act of 'going for a coffee'. Lets face it, they all look identical anyway, so, when I'm off on a jolly, I always make a conscious effort to find a decent independent joint.
Bold Street is a place for serious coffee lovers; various beans, various brews, and they have not-your-standard-Twynings tea for those crazy haters too. It's not the sort of place with slouchy leather sofas and big comfy chairs; it's no frills tables, chairs and long benches. You'll probably be almost too close for comfort to the neighbouring couple, but it doesn't matter, they're either too engaged in work-related-chats over their laptops, or busy nattering and tucking into their food. Which gets me swiftly onto the food.. Bold Street have a superb breakfast menu to complement their coffees, and at the weekend they're available all the way til 4pm; perfect for those persistant hangovers (I sure wish this place was my local). They have all the traditional's - bacon sarnies, a range of eggs on toast, etc - but done a little posher (this is no greasy spoon), and there's a healthy supply of pastries to tempt you at the counter. What sealed the deal for me, however, was the french toast made with sourdough. I could have had it with bacon and maple syrup, but cinnamon apples and a butterscotch sauce sounded much more appealing; served with a dollop of creme fraiche, I'd put it up there as one of my best breakfasts.
The chap and I hit the shops hard after this (in search of the perfect knitted scarf for me - don't worry, I found one), but all that shopping is very thirsty work, cue afternoon beverage. At the edge of Liverpool One is Salt House Tapas; featured in The Times' 2013 Food List, this charcuteria and tapas bar/restaurant is another Scouse favourite. Had we not already planned our late lunch, this place would have been a definite contender for eats, with plenty of breads/chorizo/serrano on offer. As it was, we simply ventured in for a drink, the chap had a beer whilst I had a ginger/lemon/prosecco combination. Despite it's central location, this place seems like a laid-back-graze-as-you-like-it-retreat, and the service felt personal, so would be a great venue for a multitude of occasions.
A bit of a trek up the road, and we arrived at 'my suggestion' for late lunch. Situated within the Baltic Triangle, in place of what used to be the artspace A Foundation, you'll find Camp & Furnace. It's pretty unassuming from the outside, but being three warehouses wide, this is not your average venue. The bar area is a good place to start; one giant table in the centre of the room, sofas snuggled up to the roaring fire, and dark corners for those kind of days where you'd rather not be noticed. They have a nice selection of wines, spirits and craft beers; perhaps try Brown Bear, which has been especially brewed for C+F.
In contrast, the room next door is a vast open space. Primarily used for events (and fortunately for the chap, they show the footie - not so fortunate for me) the room comes complete with picnic benches, retro caravans, a stage and an abundance of fairy lights; I imagine the late-night happenings are where this place comes into it's own.
As for eats, C+F is a bit like street food meets pub grub meets fine dining. They have interesting soups, stuff on toast, bountiful salads, burgers (note the 'legendary' chorizo burger), roasts, etc; there wasn't a single thing on the menu that I wouldn't have eaten, which is pretty unheard of. Forcing myself to make a decision, I had braised lamb shoulder, with pistachio cous cous, olives, saffron aioli and a scattering of toasted seeds. It was both beautifully cooked and beautifully presented, which you'd probably not expect from a place that is essentially a warehouse. The chap had a more manly meaty meal of braised beef blade, crisp pancetta, smoked onions and egg yolk ketchup (he does love a condiment). If this is anything to go by, their Food Slam Fridays and Social Supperclubs must be amazing. Camp & Furnace is well worth the walk.
That's as far as my taste tourism goes, the rest involved a boozed up party, with a dodgy disco, even dodgier drunk dancing, and a lot of wine spillages on my new dress (good job it was white not red). On that note, I best go collect my things from the dry cleaners; maybe I'll go out in my curlers like those Scouse gals do..