A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit Spire twice in 5 days. The Monday night was our anniversary so we celebrated with the incredibly good value two courses for £14.95. Then the following Friday my mother came to stay and I had been going on about Spire so much she demanded to try it. Don’t worry though, I’ll only focus on the Monday night experience otherwise this could turn into a nine million word review with details of ten different dishes!
Prior to that week I had only been to this little restaurant off Allerton Road in Liverpool once before and I was worried it would not live up to the excellent experience of our first trip in January.
Walking in I was again a bit disappointed; the decor is a bit dull (polystyrene ceiling tiles?) and there doesn’t seem to be much atmosphere. However, I can totally forgive this as the food makes up for any shortcoming in the venue. Given that the set menu is so reasonable (mains on the a la carte are usually around £15-£20) the quality is exceptional. The meal started with acute five inch diameter focaccia which was sweet, soft and warm with a crispy top. It comes with butter and a deliciously fresh basil oil that I could happily eat with a spoon.
For starters I had a piece of wonderfully soft slow-cooked pork fried in crisp breadcrumbs. It came with a delicious sweet apple puree and lovely earthy mushrooms that added a great umani element. My lady friend had a salad. The crisp saltiness of the grilled halloumi was a great contrast to the sweet pomegranate seeds and a really rich, garlicky (but somehow not overpowering) dressing and crisp romaine lettuce made it into a more exciting version of a caesar salad.
For main course we both had sea bass with artichoke puree, potato pearls, peas, carrots and white wine sauce (pictured). It was £3 supplement but worth every penny and definitely the star of the meal. The fish was perfectly cooked with crispy skin that worked to enhance the ‘fishiness’. The sauce was smooth, creamy and sweet and the peas were delicious (which is a bold statement for me as I usually find them an incredibly dull vegetable) The potato pearls were very pleasing and soft but still perfectly round. The dish was topped with shredded radish and microleaves which added a great fresh element and cut through the rich sauce. Overall incredibly satisfying and I could happily have eaten two.
For pudding we shared an apple tarte tatin which was rich and sweet with a crisp base and generous chunks of apple. It was sat in a vanilla sauce and vanilla ice cream. The house Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is good and great value at only £15. Our total bill came to £50 which I think is almost a steal for food of this quality.
The second time I visited that week the stand out dishes werea rhubarb sorbet and the duck and the chicken liver parfaits (bothpure joy and better than any parfait I’ve had in France – they feel like they have been whipped for hours and are probably about 40% butter). After dinner we each had a glass of Californian Black Muscat which was such a revelation we ordered a second glass each and tracked down a bottle at Scratchards Wine Merchants the next morning. I don’t usually get enthusiastic about dessert wine but this was like damson gin, but smoother, fruitier and incredibly drinkable. The bottle in my fridge is already half empty.
I like Spire, I really like Spire. It is such a refreshing restaurant that serves good quality, exciting and reasonably priced food. It is doesn’t feel pretentious or add £10 to each main just for the name above the door. Being out of town seems to keep the prices down and it is better than all the chain restaurants in town that serve unexciting food for the same price. I have now been three times and only once have I had a less than perfect dish (a trio of fish that was a bit overcooked). This restaurant is small, feels personal and the service is friendly.
In fact, I have decided I love Spire and I am officially declaring it my favourite restaurant in Liverpool. We’ll have dinner there for my birthday I think fellow Picklers (do you mind if I call you that…?)
Number One, Church Road, Liverpool L15 9EA.