Here are the Top 5 restaurants in Liverpool, as voted for by our panel of Top 100 judges, taking into account our own review scores and other guidebook scores, plus any rosettes, stars, plates, forks and all that stuff…
5 Book Now Merseyside Modern British
Merseyside’s fine dining star. This tiny restaurant is home to an artist behind the pass. Having been rated as a ‘rising star’ by the Michelin guide in 2006 and 2007, the restaurant finally secured the real thing which in 2009 which Francophile Marc Wilkinson has since upheld with ease. The signature menu starts as it means to go on, an almond gazpacho with cherry and asparagus introducing the kind of flavour trickery on offer. Dishes are deceptively listed – Gressingham duck, cocoa crisp, and kohlrabi, for example, or carrot textures, feta, and pain d’épice – which belies the molecular tricks at the core of Wilkinson’s style. Even so, the cooking is characterised by pleasure, which also applies to the remarkably reasonable wine list. With bottles from around £20, it’s affordable – even the ‘fine selection’ with Burgundy from around £60. Expect cooking inspired by France’s bleeding edge in this unique space. Commissioned glass sculptures and suede are themes; strangely, it works. Fans will be pleased to know that Ben Mounsey, formerly of Fraiche, joined another Top 100 Manchester entry, Grafene, as head chef in 2018.
14 Book Now Liverpool Modern British
Wild child of a restaurant from the former Michelin star winning Masterchef winner. Roski may well bring Liverpool its first Michelin star, thanks to the balls-out cooking of former MasterChef: The Professionals winner, Anton Piotrowski. Gracious in joint victory with Keri Moss, he substantiated his credentials at Devon’s Treby Arms pub earning a Michelin star after being told it could never happen. His Liverpool restaurant takes on the former Pushka site and it’s a simple, elegant space. White tablecloths and gentle lighting places the focus firmly on the food. Food-wise, choose from a selection of five and seven course tasting menus, littered with invention. Dishes include shards of dehydrated carrot flecked with Thai flavours, and Piotrowski’s take on Liverpool’s signature dish, scouse, here taking the form of a tower topped with crisped fermented turnip, sprinkled with parsley dust, a layer of smoked vegetables, locally bred beef brisket aged for 100 days, infused with Norwegian spices and caramelised onion and served with beef knuckle marrow gravy. Tiny, crisp ants are served with the seared scallop, and names are fun too: Olympic Breakfast, for example and Piotroski’s Gone Carrots (his Masterchef winning dish), actually a take carrot cake, presented in a tiny plastic flowerpot, with crumbly chocolate soil and a real baby carrot. Dig into the soft, light carroty sponge for layers of cream. Wines are worldly. Thrilling stuff.
19 Book Now Liverpool Modern British
Liverpool seems like an appropriate place for the closest thing to the restaurant-as-socialist collective. Wreckfish was funded by the people, 1,522 enthusiasts who raised the record-breaking £200,000 required, via a crowdfunding website. Accordingly, it has the feel of a place for the many, not the few. Gary Usher’s fourth restaurant, and counting, generates a warmth that somehow manages to radiate down the road. As you approach, past the huddle of no-messing black-clad bouncers and the grim bouquets for a young murder victim, there it is, on the corner of Slater Street, glowing like the farmhouse light that guides the lost on a cold and lonely night. Inside the 19th century watchmaker’s factory it’s all brick and wood, softly lit, homely and hospitable, the old building’s raw materials displayed to their best advantage: solid and reassuring. Staff have an energy that’s infectious and a calm assurance that belies their youth. Patrons span the generations but there are more than a few hirsute hipsters in search of something a little more grown up than the usual dirty burgers and burritos to nest in their beards. At Wreckfish, there’s no glitz, no pretence, no big I am, just a warm welcome and bistro food prepared to a standard that’s pretty much guaranteed to make this everyone’s favourite city centre restaurant.
28 Book Now Liverpool Modern British
Upmarket, regionally-inspired cooking from local legend, Paul Askew. Opening in late 2014, this fancy contemporary British restaurant is a place for that special occasion. Since moving on from London Carriage Works, Askew’s clearly been out to make his mark, winning two AA rosettes and publishing his first cookbook in December 2017. The setting is the skylight clad top floor of a children’s home dating back to 1888. With relatively few covers to entertain, the focus is on extremely high-end service – and a proper occasion menu. This being the West Coast, fish is a trend. Start with pan-roasted halibut, Filey crab, cucumber pearls and wild mushroom or seared king scallop with black pudding, apple and golden raisin purée. Mains could include Peterhead hake with locally smoked pork, as well as a fresh catch of the day. Dishes such as red deer venison with black truffle and cavolo nero, or Ormskirk-shot pheasant with butternut squash purée and quince jelly nod to local game. The British cheese selection is served with seasonal fruit and truffle-scented honey sourced from the city’s two cathedrals while must-eat desserts could include berry pavlova with Turkish delight ice cream, or a Sicilian-inspired citrus tart. An AA Notable Wine Award in 2017 completes the wow-some picture.
Book Now Liverpool European
Irresistible Middle Eastern fusion small plates – a slow burning smash hit. Inspired by (and named after) the Middle-Eastern flavours of Paris’ Marais district, Maray provides an informal, communal dining experience which revolves around excellent falafels, small plates, fine wines and cocktails. Courtesy of a young team (including Dom Jones, Tom White and James Bates), attention to detail is spot on. In particular, there’s a sizeable vegetarian offering, which could includes hummus, muhammara, confit squash with ginger, harissa-pickled eggs, and pumpkin arancini with brie and a fresh rhubarb chutney. In reference to its cosmopolitan namesake, the fish and meat plates feature modern European staples shot through with eastern colour; monkfish cheeks with Aleppo aioli, or smoked ham with fennel, date syrup and Egyptian spices. The interior explores the possiblities offered by wrought iron, exposed brickwork and pendulous LED lighting. They bake all their own Persian bread in house, and together with new sister venues in Allerton, Maray is a hipsters’ favourite. Finish off at the bar with a marmalade-infused house whiskey sour, or Agent Cooper – a bittersweet concoction of vodka, Patron XO, Frangelico and bitter chocolate.