The Lower Place, Liverpool restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 17:08 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 14:34 20 February 2013

Review

Review

The Lower Place, Hope Street, Liverpool. 0151-210-1955/50.

Dining at the Lower Place in Liverpool's famous Hope Street is an intriguing experience. As the old joke goes, the Lower Place is the only restaurant in Liverpool with a Philharmonic Hall attached to it. And then there's the chef-in-charge Paul Askew, who has achieved wide foodie acclaim at his 'in' restaurant the London Carriage Works, just across the road.

So it's fair to anticipate good nosh, and you may also be able to pick up some of the melodious strains from upstairs.

Despite the pedigree of its chef and its surroundings, the Lower Place is an easy, unpretentious place. The restaurant is used to catering quickly for an audience eager to see a show (and is open only on performance nights), so choice is limited to a set menu and an eminently serviceable wine list, from which we chose a refreshing Pinot Blanc reserve from Alsace.

It is also an extremely relaxing setting in which to while away a couple of hours, especially after the early evening crowd have gone in search of their seats.

For starters we had king prawns on a bed of risotto with fennel and dill, finished with roasted red pepper coulis, and pan-fried breast of wood pigeon served on a base of butternut squash with red wine jus.

It was difficult not to be impressed by the combinations of taste and consistency, and although the servings looked smallish at first sight, they were more than adequate considering the piquant richness of the woodpigeon and the filling, flavoursome risotto. My partner even went into raptures about the cherry tomato accompaniment.

The main courses veered more towards the meat-lover, with lamb, pork and Scottish sirloin, but all treated with the famous Askew flair. Vegetarians could order grilled halloumi salad, or, for those with more liberal tastes, the roasted delice of Scottish salmon.

In a role reversal that confused the staff (apparently men prefer steak) I ordered char-grilled Scottish sirloin with champ mash and a stuffed vine tomato. My partner ordered the apparently more girlie roasted rump of lamb with a black pudding puree and saffron roasted baby potatoes. It was the macho black pudding that turned his head.

Both were superb; traditional enough to satisfy all tastes but with those extra touches of contrasting flavour, aroma and presentation that lift dishes out of the ordinary.

After that, the vine tomatoes weren't the only things stuffed. Nonetheless, we tried a comforting rich chocolate tart and Baileys chocolate cheesecake, both serviceable without being exceptional, which made us wish we'd been a little more adventurous.

Three courses plus coffee are 24.95 per head.

The Lower Place, Hope Street, Liverpool. 0151-210-1955/50.

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