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Bacaro – Liverpool

“The more sophisticated member of the Salt House family. Lovely”

Occasionally the Cooktwit ventures west. A Manchester United supporter will sometimes allow a jaunty surjourn into the lofty, port side metrop of Liverpool. In fairness the sea frontage is a thing of beauty. In this instance the cooktwit. with a nod to his arty side was nipping into the Tate to view a couple of blocky, coloured pics by a long departed French cove called Piet Mondrian. Apparently he got quite famous for painting coloured squares and had some digs in London in the early 1900’s specifically for the cause. Naturally the jaunt had to include some decent grub and a beer.

The understated outside. Smart inside.
The understated outside. Smart inside.

The selected establishment this time was Italian Tapas experts Bacaro. Bacaro is the sister of its noisier neighbour Salthouse Tapas that I reviewed only a few weeks back. I was impressed that time and had heard that this was even better. It took some finding. I actually fired google maps up to discover we were across the road. It doesn’t exactly shout out from the street, subtlety being the word here. But hey once inside things start to look up. A dark, classical decor harks to a more sophisticated atmosphere than its sister. Quieter, higher quality fittings. You could turn up with your tinsel and tiara here or your jeans and fit in quite nicely.

the lunch menu, smart interior
the lunch menu, smart interior

The flame and I settled on a table for two in the centre. A schooner of ‘Meantime’ London Pale Ale had the cook twit settled in a thrice. Things were looking good. And then we got the menus. No readers meant the grey on brown menu was hard to decipher. The lunch menu much easier to digest, £12.50 for three courses. As we were on a mission we quickly decided this was for us. A choice of twelve delicious sounding dishes. As with most tapas restaurants the dishes simply rock up when chef gets them ready. This can lead to a pile up at certain points.

The amazing a la carte menu
The amazing a la carte menu

Things started at a pleasing rate, charcuterie platter and some lovely rosemary faccacia bread with oil. We each munched along with a joyous smile. Then entering side right, the pan fried sea bass with cannellini beans, feta and tomato. We decided to split in half. The beans were a bit cold but the sea bass was wonderful, tight crisp skin over succulent white flesh, very nice. For me The Flame wasted one of her dishes by having the house salad, it was pleasant enough, but salad! My chicken and aubergine pizzette turned up. Nicely mounted on its own board complete with its own chrome pizza cutter, nice touch. It tasted good as well. Again we split two ways.

pizzette, sliders, sea bass, pork belly
pizzette, sliders, sea bass, pork belly

While I wasn’t looking in popped another of my choices. Chicken Caesar sliders. These were a revelation. As we got two, it was an easy share. Basically it was a mini schnitzel on a brioche bun with salad and mayo. Top dish. The plates were flying in by this time. Belly pork with butternut squash sage and chilli was next. What can I say? soft fatty, luscious pork with a shield of crispy crackling down one side. I managed to cut, roughly in half. Some might say my half was biggest but who’s counting? Set on a very tasty mash of butternut squash, it was another cracking little dish.

charcuterie, foccacia, coffee, cheesecake
charcuterie, foccacia, coffee, cheesecake

For research purpose I had to try the cheesecake which had apple and caramel popcorn on it. To be fair this was pretty standard ‘moussey’ stuff and at £4.95 I could have missed it. We then finished with a decent coffee. All in all a very pleasant luncheon. It set us back £44, not bad with the drinks and the extras. I would have to say this was better than Salt House Tapas for me. A bit more grown up, nicer atmosphere. I would definitely come again and try something from the sensational looking full menu. The Flame has it on her radar for when she comes shopping with her mates. So there we have it another one to try in Liverpool. It’s looking good.

more smart interior shots
more smart interior shots

Bacaro

47 Castle St,

Central,

Liverpool L2 9UB

0151 665 0047

http://www.salthousebacaro.co.uk

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Salthouse Tapas – Liverpool

Yet another northern torrential downpour threatened to dampen the hungry spirit as The Cooktwit and The Flame headed East on one of Northern Rails, 1980’s, heritage trolley carts, such is the downtrodden quality of 21st century transport when heading to the Liverbased metrop of Liverpool. We were heading to highly recommended gastrogaff ‘Salthouse Tapas’. The place is sited close to the mega retail emporium ‘Liverpool One’, a sort of posh, newer version of Manchester’s Arndale. In truth The Flame is not a great fan of the small plate, informal dining experience known as ‘tapas’. So given that this was my choice, it was with some slight trepidation that we ventured along the rain soaked streets. To be fair a late burst of evening sun had lightened the mood. We even skipped the last few yards!

The curved frontage
The curved frontage

From the outside things are promising. A lofty, Victorian structure, complete with curved frontage and contemporary, bold font signage. A roped off alfresco area sits out front. The afternoon’s inclemency meant that only a few random smokers were braving it when we arrived. We stepped up into the fray to be confronted by a riotous din. The bar hits first, a table of eight drinkers were seemingly well into the final throws of stupor as they shrieked their conversations. It wasn’t the best start. To be fair within seconds a lean, bearded chap had ushered us to our table for two. The noise seemed to continue and reverberate throughout the set. We quickly realised this is how it is. Thankfully having asked the flame for her hand in marriage thirty years ago, I knew I wouldn’t be required to go down on one knee and whisper sweet nothing’s tonight. I spared a thought for any hapless young buck who did have it in mind though. I doubt his future betrothed would have heard a word he was saying! Still mustn’t quibble, Anna (our initial waitress) had us settled and a Mango Margerita and a Campari were soon winging across. Flipping lovely they were too.

The interior
The interior

As is the norm nowadays a quick survey of the decor confirmed that we were indeed in a trendy place. The obligatory old school chairs were strewn around the place. The place settings doubling up as your menu (a la Beef and Pudding, Solita, to name but a few). I must say I quite like this idea. Keeps everything simple and as a bonus I could read it without me specs. We were downstairs in the main room which was filling up nicely. A mezzanine above seemed full as well. The atmosphere was building.

The menu
The menu

 

Quirky loo sign
Quirky loo sign

We ordered a bottle of Malbec (£16.95) and a shared platter of charcuterie to start (Monroyo Serrano ham, loin, chorizo, salchichon, bead and olive oil £9.95). We had developed a bit of a habit of ordering this in Sicily recently and this brought it back. If I’m honest this was better. Delivered on a table tennis bat it looked and tasted wonderful.

Wine, charcuterie, mango Margerita
Wine, charcuterie, mango Margerita

The reason(s) the flame has reservations on tapas is several fold 1) she doesn’t want me dipping in, sharing her food across the table (as if – Ed) and 2) she doesn’t like having food on her own as tapas doesn’t always arrive together as in a normal three course dinner. We ordered two dishes each after the ham platter. Bang on cue, within a few minutes the two dishes ordered by the flame turned up. In fairness though they were both very good. First up The roast hake fillet with Serrano ham, fennel and sherry jus (£6.50). The picture doesn’t do it justice, a soap bar sized slab of pure white beautifully cooked fish bathed in a sweet sauce with fennel julienne layered on top. I managed a morsel and it was delightful. The flame loved it and declared dish of the day. The second dish was the hot smoked salmon with a Bloody Mary salad (£5.50). Not my cup of tea to be honest but bang on for the flame. Despite not being ‘hot’ as such she declared it a winner.

Salmon, hake and lamb
Salmon, hake and lamb

Then came my first choice ‘Roasted lamb rump with broad beans, olives and red peppers’ (£7.50). This was superb. The lamb perhaps a shade more well done than I would have preferred, but nonetheless the combination of colours, the sweet, slightly crisp lamb (on the outside) and the olive oil dressing made for a stunning dish. It wouldn’t have looked out of place at Mr Coopers. My second dish was the ‘Galician Octopus with sautéed new potatoes, lemon and paprika’ (£5.50). Lots of smokey, paprika flavours. I would have liked a few tentacles on there to give it a bit more drama and look a bit more like octopus, but a lovely dish. I did notice quite a lot of ‘Malaga Fried Fish with lemon and aioli’ coming out. Looked like you got a decent portion and looked great on its plank.

Octopus, chicken chorizo sliders
Octopus, chicken chorizo sliders

After a few minutes rest and deliberation we decided to plumb for another quick savoury dish. We noticed the special of ‘chicken and chorizo sliders’ (£5.50) were flying out as well. As there was two per portion we had one each. Miniature brioche bun with mini chicken schnitzel, chorizo sausage and cheese skewered together in a neat little package. Hot, well cooked and very tasty. A lovely final tapas. As ever I ventured into the desert section and wolfed down a ‘Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova with Chantilly cream and passion fruit syrup’ (£4.95). Oh boy, I like my ‘meringuey’ deserts and so this hit the spot no problem, sweet, sticky and tangy. A lovely end. A decent brew mopped up and left us to pay the £75 all in.

Pavlova and coffee. A lovely end
Pavlova and coffee. A lovely end

I love El Rincon in Manchester. You can’t beat the Spanish atmosphere, but I’d have to say the presentation and quality of food at the Salthouse was better, and for similar money. There’s still plenty on the menu to try so I reckon we’ll be back.

A romantic stroll afterwards
A romantic stroll afterwards

We went for a romantic evening stroll down the Liverpool front afterwards. What better way to help get the digestive juices flowing? We had a great night. We will defiantly be giving Liverpool another go. I wonder where to next? Salt House Charcuterie and Tapas 1 Hanover Street Liverpool 0151 706 0092 http://www.salthousetapas.co.uk