October 16th At Hard Days Night Hotel and Scatchards

This Months Scousetro Club will be at Blakes Restaurant in Hard Days Night Hotel. This is the worlds only Beatles inspired hotel, combining the highest quality facilities in a truly unique environment. Located at the heart of Liverpool’s ‘Beatles Quarter’ offering luxurious accommodation and exclusive event space with a twist. Housed in the magnificent Grade II listed Central Buildings, dating back to 1884, the beautifully restored hotel is steeped in history.

This months meal is a special Scousetro Club, being our first wine night, the evening will be hosted along with Scatchards, Liverpool’s premier wine merchants, who with CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) are hosting  “Dine with Bordeaux” evenings. Included with the menu are four matched wines all from the bordeaux region. Jon Atkinson, of Scatchards, has worked to pick the best possible matches to the Blakes menu. Jon will be on hand all evening to explain the matches and answer any questions.

Review

 I often get asked which has been the best Scousetro Club, in fact chefs particularly are always keen to compare their efforts with meals of the past. To be honest this isn’t a question I find easy to answers, the variety of meals, with very different approaches, makes comparing events very hard to do. I don’t think that any one meal can take the crown of being the best, what I do know is that this meal was as good as anything we have had before.

Paul and his kitchen team really wanted to show case what Blakes restaurant is about, classic food and combinations cooked with precision accompanied by excellent service, and this is exactly what we got.

Spiced duck blini appetiser, great combination of rich ducky flavours balanced with some citrus zing.

Along with our food came an excellent selection of wine provided through the “Dine With Bordeaux” promotion run by CVIB. Jon Atkinson, from Scatchards, matched the menu to the wine and we got to sample some excellent matching combinations.

Salmon with beetroot pure, creme fraiche and dill accompanied by a lovely cucumber sandwich. This was my favourite dish of the night, great flavour combinations and more precise cooking. This was served with dry Ch. de respide Graves Blanc, which made a great combination. 

Some of the wine read to be served with the main course.

Main course was the favourite dish for the majority of Scousetro Clubbers, the loin of lamb was pink and tender and the sweet potato gratin had the right texture and wonderful flavour. Paul once again showing he eye for precision cooking. We had a couple of interesting red to go with this both showing different characteristics.

Apple crumbe cheese cake, and combination I’d not had before and one I really liked. Great vanilla ice-cream on the side and a fantastic vanilla puree. Another fantastic dish, it was served with a great sweet wine Ch. Coutet Barsac 1’er Cru Classe 2005, which made for a perfect combination with sweet, rich fragrances.

The entire evening was excellent, with hardly a mistake to be seen in any of the dishes on display, this menu wasn’t as adventurous as others in the past  but for precision almost faultless cooking it has to be applauded.

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Alma De Cuba, July 12th Scousetro Club

Scousetro Club returns in July for it’s 5th meal at Alma De Cuba, the perfect host for a vibrant exciting meal. Alma de Cuba, Liverpool’s most spectacular restaurant and bar; an island in the heart of the city, an independent spirit that leaves a lasting impression. Set inside the magnificent conversion of the former St. Peter’s Catholic church, Alma de Cuba is an eclectic mix of Cuban, Hispanic and Latin American influences that are enhanced with Liverpool’s great spirit.

The team at Alma have put together a fantastic menu for us, including both new dishes and Alma classics recreated and reimagined  especially for Scousetro Club. Alma’s head bar man, Josh, will be creating a special matched cocktail menu, paring the finest Latin American drinks with each course.

Review

What can I say about the 5th Scousetro Club at Alma De Cuba, well in short it was fantastic,  a great evening with wonderful food. The entire team at Alma worked tirelessly to put on this meal, with service running smoothly the whole night.

The Alma Dinning Room

Food on the whole was excellent, showing imagination and creativity, offering challenges to diners that go everyone involved with the dishes. Beef and chocolate was a combination that really split opinion, some loved it other weren’t as convinced, but this is exactly what Scousetro Club is about.

The remains of Tequila and sangrita, our first course.

One of several complimentary cocktails, a Copa Cobanga, rum with cherry marnier, fresh orange and condensed milk

Jerk Chicken and Coconut rice, our second course

Alma De Cuba really embrassed the concept of Scousetro, and again elevated expectations of diners with a skill full and imaginative menu. Everyone left feeling extremley possitive about the whole experience and very keen to return to the restaurant in the future.

One of the Samba girls

Seasame encrusted seared tuna with Solana Mojito

Ginger and Jasmine tea with Jasmine flower

Fillet of beef marinated in Malbec with pulled beef and chocolate. The beefs flavour and texture was perfect.

Alma really proved itself to be an excellent restaurant, pulling out all the stops for Scousetro Club. If you’re in Liverpool looking for a good meal then it has to be near the top of your list.

Pudding: Rum with smoke and chocolate orange fudge, chocolate biscotti, coffee sphere and a chocolate coffee spoon

Pudding: Rum with smoke and chocolate orange fudge, chocolate biscotti, coffee sphere and a chocolate coffee spoon

Head Chef Dave Critchley after a hard shift in the kitchen

 

Pictures Courtesy of Martin Henley

June 2012 Caveau Liverpool

After a months break Scousetro Club returned in June with the best meal yet, Dave and the team at Caveau pulled out all the stops, serving an eight course menu for £34.50. The food, ambience and service all evening was fantastic, with all the Scousetro Clubbers having a great evening.

 39 diners took their seats for a really excellent meal, that started with garlic snails with bone marrow, a dish that set the scene for a true classic French menu, that along they way took in sweetbreads, quail and frogs legs.

Snails with bone barrow

 

Scallops with poached pears, very nice if a touch too sweet.

Scousetro Clubbers enjoying their meal

 

Frogs legs with aubergine caviar and squash puree, great flavours highlighting what is a very delicately flavoured meat.

 

Langoustine in court bullion, lovely soft flesh perfectly cooked, it took a good bit of work to extract all the tasty stuff.

Roasted Quail and Braised Endive, another lovely dish. After a bit of prodding and delicate knife work the best way to tackle the quail was with your fingers. The endive was lovely and delicate.

 

Chilled Chocolate Soufflés with Cherries. This was my favourite dish, a classic combination rich, sweet and sharp, I thought it was beautiful.

 

The final cheese course, Reblechon with Quails Egg in Brioche. A great way to round off the meal, soft fantastic cheese with a great accompaniments.

All in all this meal was very very good, everyone who attended had a great time and really enjoyed the food served. You may have noticed that I’m missing a photo, I completely forgot to take a picture of the sweetbreads course, thus if any Scousetro Clubbers out there have one they could e-mail to me I would be very grateful.

Caveau was a fantastic venue for Scousetro Club, a head chef and staff who really wanted to put on a show made this night what it was. I feel everyone who attended got to try a new restaurant, it’s certainly a venue they were all keen to return to. If you couldn’t make this meal, but still want to sample what Caveau has to offer it’s open Tuesday to Sunday, serving classic french food all year round.

 
Caveau Restaurant
59 Allerton Road
Liverpool
L25 7RE
 

April 2012 The Malmaison

So far Scousetro Club has been a huge success, after two fantastic meals at Lunya and Academy restaurant, I’m very pleased to announce that the meal for March will be hosted by The Malmaison. Sitting amongst Liverpool’s historic waterfront, The Malmaison Liverpool is a chic modern hotel, with excellent brasserie and luxurious rooms. The food at The Mal is centred around the very best of local produce,  prepared by the head chef Adam Townsley.

The menu is below

Review

This months Scousetro was a good night, hosted by The Mal and taking place in one of their private function rooms. For the first time at a Scousetro club meal we all sat round one large table, a bit like a giant board room. The Mal’s staff had made a great effort, the room looked excellent and it made for a lovely atmosphere.

Our first course proved to be the most popular of the night, sweet perfectly cooked scallops with a delicious risotto. It was a great start to the evening, a dish enjoyed by all and would hopefully set the tone for the rest of the courses.

Second course was homemade black pudding with smoked apple purée and sauce grabiche. This was the dish I was most looking forward to, I love a bit of black pudding and I was hoping for something special. The dish came out reeking of smoke, it boded well for the course as the smell wafted around the room. Unfortunately the flavours didn’t quite live up to the aromas, with the sauce and pudding lacking the the required flavour, a heavier dose of spice to the black pudding would have really lifted what was a reasonable dish.

Braised hogget, our main course, was full of flavour soft, tender and sweet, a touch over seasoned for my tastes but very well done. I was nice to have a slightly different meat than the usual suspects. The melt in the mouth bone marrow in the accompanying sauce punctuated the dish with delicate melting flavours. A greater amount of fennel would have brought a better balance to the dish, but we were all very happy with our mains.

Dessert consisted of a soft pistachio fondant, with sweet almost marzipan like texture, it was very good and the melted chocolate at the bottom of it made it all the better. It came with a white chocolate sorbet that was nice, but very sweet. Every time in my life when I’ve had sorbet I’ve always wished for ice cream, a good dose of animal fat to wrap everything up on your pallet is generally a good thing. Thus, although I did like the sorbet I think an ice cream would have lifted this dish.

On the whole the meal was well received, the the Scousetro Clubbers enjoyed the food served to them, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. I was disappointed, however, to find all our meal dishes on the main brasserie menu. The aim of Scousetro Club is to provide different food and I feel that the Malmaison didn’t embrace this to the full extent.


March 2012 Academy Restaurant

I’m very pleased to announce that Scousetro Club for March will take place at The Academy restaurant in the Liverpool community college. Set amidst the backdrop of Liverpool’s historic RopeWalks area, The restaurant is located in the college’s Duke Street facility.  It offers a mouth-watering selection of both British and European cuisine ranging from contemporary combinations, to traditional favourites displaying a modern twist.

The Academy Restaurant is run by a dedicated team of staff,  and highly motivated students who are developing professional skills ready for employment in the catering and hospitality industry.  Dishes are expertly prepared using the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients by our young chefs of the future.

For the fantastic price of £21 Academy will be offering us a five course tasting menu.

Review

I was approaching the second Scousetro Club with some trepidation, the first event had been great fun and a success, but I was somewhat worried by beginners luck. Scousetro Club can certainly run as a one-off, but its continued success was and, in some ways, still is an unanswered question. However I was pleased with the number of bookings, twenty-eight of us took our seats, hoping the The Academy restaurants menu could live up to its promise and quite excellent price.

On arrival we had been greeted with glass of Denbies, an excellent english sparkling wine, and an interesting and tasty tipple. I’ve felt with both of these events that pre dinner drinks is always a bit more reserved than the meal, but once seats were taken with various mixed tables everyone seemed much more relaxed. Conversation was freely flowing as was the wine, which came from a matched wine list put together by Chris the food and beverage manager.

At this point I must apologise for the shonky photos, my main photographic technique involves hopefully waving my iPhone at a dish and seeing what comes back. Thus the following pics aren’t great, but hopefully will give you an idea of the food we had.

Three small lime scallops arrived with a chilli and melon salsa, soft and sweet if ever so slightly over done (I’m really being very picky). A pleasant sharpness from the lime and melon accompanied by a light touch of chilli made for a good dish. It’s all too easy, as I’ve seen so many times before, to over do the chilli and loose the scallop but this was the faintest of background notes.

Second course, the spiced dahl soup was fragrant, warm and comforting as with the first course the level of spicing was excellent neither overpowering or disappearing. Tasty little spinach tortellini punctuated the dish with flavour and the smoked ham parfait added texture and a hint of ham as it broke down amongst the soup.

Next up was a confit salmon and pea puree with poached egg, this dish lacked the same attention to detail as the previous courses, with the fish being a bit dry and over cooked. I thought it also lacked a touch of balance, with the peas being too heavy and over powering. It was beautifully presented, but needed greater care and attention with regards to cooking.

The main course, was perfectly cooked aromatic duck breast, soft and pink in the centre, accompanied by a lovely fondant slice and glazed onions and a not so good pear. To be fair the pear was nicely cooked, but for a dish that relies on rich, meat and juicy flavours I found the pear too watery and it washed the other flavours away.

Our dessert was a mango and white chocolate parfait, some Scousetro Club members thought it was not set enough there was a bit a variance between plates, mine was fine but others were melting much more quickly. Served with a lovely roast plum, crunch tuile biscuit and a beautiful vanilla syrup, it was a delight and probably my favourite dish of the night. However I have quite a sweet tooth.

At the end of the evening everyone was full of praise for the work put in by Chris and the team. The most popular dishes being the dahl soup and the duck. Everyone left happy and we are all looking forward to next months Scousetro Club.