The Pen FactoryMediterranean
The Pen Factory specialises in the kind of Middle East-meets-Spanish creations you’ll find at Volta or The Refuge in Manchester, where small plates are par for the course. From broad bean and kikone bar snacks to Southport potted shrimps ‘Spanish’ chip butties, spiced harissa slices and duck ragout with orzo, everything is reasonably priced, perfectly presented and made for sharing. This is food to enjoy with friends – much as it was at owner Paddy Byrne’s previous outfit, the Everyman Bistro – and you can feel the love in the drinks list too. The pleasingly compact collection resides strictly in the realm of enjoyment; German Rieslings, fashionable txakoli and a cluster of French bottles, chosen with care. There’s an award-winning selection of regional and national craft beers on offer too. Looks-wise expect all the accouterments you expect of a contemporary bar/restaurant in the provinces: open kitchen, exposed ducts, chairs, that sort of thing. Atmosphere abounds, and it even has its own secret garden. The very definition of a hidden gem.