Restaurant Review: Arts Club, Liverpool

Arts Club Liverpool –  Scouse Hipster Hangout

The East Village Arts Club was minimally designed, covered with neutral tones and exposed natural finishes. I loved the mixture of materials, cleanness of lines and little curiosities. All this created a stylishly urban atmosphere: it was a hipster hangout, but a genuinely good one. With acts as diverse and genuine as Kano, to We Are Scientists, The Arts Club Liverpool was both a day and night spot in equal measure.

Regarding The Arts Club food, the Suicide Chicken Wings were not so much suicidal but a cry for help. They were tasty enough, but the tiny wings were smothered in a tangy tomato sauce not hard-core enough for heat-junkies. The Crispy Deep Fried Calamari had flavour but were an oily flaccid pile. The Sheepish Burger, a lamb patty with fennel, yoghurt and mint salsa was deliciously herby, and will be consumed again. The Truffle Shuffle was a vegan’s nightmare: seasoned patty, ladled with pulled pork and chipotle sauce, topped with a fried egg. It wasn’t without its meaty charms, but was on the dry side of delicious. The skinny fries were crack-cocaine level moreish – I saved a few and sold them by the gram outside. During the ‘penniless & destitute’ 50% off promotion, the East Village represented superb value. I’m not saying I wouldn’t return for food, but the promotion significantly added to its appeal.

The Arts Club lack of drinks menus was inconvenient, but a smooth and delicate rum old-fashioned was helpfully suggested. At £9 it was expensive considering main courses were £4. However, I did ask for a recommended (given the lack of menu), and it was made using better quality ingredients than your standard Bacardi and Captain Morgan nonsense.

Service at Arts Club Liverpool was excellent throughout, with a friendly and conversational gentleman on hand when needed. East Village was a cool place in the heart of Liverpool, for a drink and a game of chess. The bearded are especially welcome.

Arts Club Review Summary

Atmosphere 10/10    Cost 9/10    Quality 6/10    Service 9/10

Arts Club: Burger, Old Fashioned, Chess - wonderful

Arts Club: Burger, Old Fashioned, Chess – wonderful

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Restaurant Review: Bistro Franc, Liverpool

Bargain Basement Bistro

Bistro Franc Liverpool was thankfully not authentically French: staff welcomed guests with smiles, rather than complete disdain. The interior was stylishly designed, with absinthe green splashes and natural finishes throughout. Bisto Franc Liverpool tried too hard to mask it’s a chain, with so many modern accessories masquerading as antique; however, they created a fun, unique impression – especially the novel lavatories.

Bistro Franc Liverpool provided outstanding value via Le Pre Théâtre Menu; although the selection was predictably limited, options were perfectly choosable. They also provide generously long Le Lunch Rapide hours, as well as weekly Sunday and Monday (for students) Wine & Dine Menus, giving you no excuses to not make a booking.

The flavours of the pea and pancetta soup worked together admirably: the pleasing saltiness of the meat with the starchiness of the vegetables was comforting. Likewise, the smoked pâté, was creamy but light and slightly citrusy, in other words – delicious. The Chilean Sauvignon Blanc was a major disappointment, being too acidic and tasting of nothing but passion fruit; perfectly drinkable, but with little character. The ‘Poulet Forestier’ was succulent, the thick sauce too sour, and the generously-portioned, perfectly cooked vegetables fresh. Some sort of citrus tart for dessert was tasty, but a little dry, and finally the cheese was inoffensive but not proudly French.

Bistro Franc Liverpool’s service was excellent throughout, with well-presented, spritely servers producing everything efficiently. However, two minor points of improvement would be to proactively advise the Soup of the Day and explain what constituted the cheeseboard.

Although there were some issues with Bistro Franc Liverpool’s food, at this price point one shouldn’t complain. There was also some proper grown up dishes on offer, along with plenty of Scouse banter.

Bistro Franc Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 5/10    Service 9/10

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Restaurant Review: Kimos, Liverpool

Kimos Liverpool – Brilliant Bargain Breakfasts

Kimos Liverpool is perfect for students looking for reasonably priced, often healthy lunches around the corner from campus. In my student days, Kimos’ breakfasts provided the crucial first steps of brutal hangover recovery – literally saving my life – on a regular basis. Thanks to Kimo-therapy I struggled through. Frugal tourists staying in surrounding hotels would be well advised to visit here first thing.

The Mediterranean Breakfast has long been a personal obligation, setting me up for the day ahead with a smile. I felt smugly cosmopolitan with my fresh orange juice, feta, pickles and falafel, perfectly content watching the weird and wonderful walking passed outside.

Kimos’ servers are consistently friendly and bring hot plates of food frighteningly quickly. The multicultural environment provides an informal and inclusive atmosphere. It makes a refreshing change to see all demographics coming together in a genuine manner free of corporate or government gloss.

Kimos’ music is dated, verging on bizarre, while their furniture is ergonomically designed for dwarves or NBA players. Although fixtures and fittings are rough around the edges, as Kimo’s is the same price point as bland, greasy-spoons, the interior design works wonders.

The food’s not all brilliant. Breakfast aside, Kimos’ menu is nothing but predictable. The burgers and chicken dishes are OK but uninspiring; it’s the salads which surprisingly provide more excitement.

Kimos Review Summary

Atmosphere 7/10    Cost 10/10   Quality 5/10   Service 7/10

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Bar Review: Keith’s Wine Bar, Aigburth

Keith’s Wine Bar – Loveable Lark Lane

Keith’s Wine Bar is nestled on Lark Lane – the best street in Liverpool. Lark Lane was a hipster enclave before anybody knew what one was. Keith’s Wine Bar provided the ideal spot to watch artsy students, old-fashioned cabbies who define ‘scouser’ and shadowy alcoholics shuffling about in fine fettle. Lark Lane has managed to avoid Pret-A-Manger and Zizzi moving in, but I fear it’s only a matter of time. Nearby restaurants ‘Belly’ and ‘Meat Factory’ provide a sense of the neighborhood.

Keith’s Wine Bar is about as unpretentious as a wine bar gets – which is no bad thing. That said, 1/5 score from the Food Standards Agency probably is a bad thing. The holes in the walls were not the idea of an interior design agency. With bohemian artwork and rough wooden tables set with dripping candles teetering from wine bottles, this is as shabby chic as Liverpool gets. For a moment I mentally drifted off to the continent until I overheard: “That’s a boss Pinot, that lad”.

The staff were approachable and provided the natural, witty rapport that Liverpudlians are genetically predisposed to offer. Contrary to reports, Keith’s Wine Bar isn’t dirt cheap, but it’s certainly reasonable. The wine selection is robust, with craft beers also available.

As Keith’s is, of course, a wine bar, I expected the cheeseboard not to be sourced from a dinner lady supplier. There was at least plenty of it, so much so I had nightmares for weeks.

Seek Keith’s out (but don’t tell anyone else).

Keith’s Wine Bar Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 7/10    Quality 5/10    Service 8/10

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