So when you have old friends to stay and you fancy a little light lunch in Liverpool on a day when the rain is coming down in buckets and you feel like curling up with something tasty, the obvious place to head to is the Italian Club on Bold Street.
The little sister of the newer, bigger and brassier Italian Club Fish Restaurant at the top of Bold Street in the shadow of the bombed out church, I’m a much bigger fan of the little, cosy, chic cafe of the original. The fish restaurant is great but it lacks the atmosphere and the warmth that emanates from the friendly girls behind the counter and the amazing counter of hot specials and their enticing smells. They serve a wealth of bruschetta, antipasti and insalate as well as the hot specials and their own club sandwiches. Drinks include wine, interesting soft drinks and lots of perfect coffee. It’s very much the sort of place where you want to try a bit of everything and quite often do and the serving is casual and very friendly. Importantly, there is no feeling that they want you to move on after you have finished eating and in the past, we have lingered over coffee and cakes for hours on a wet weekend afternoon.
So this lunchtime, with a little light shopping on our minds, we decided to head there on our way into town. We often go when this friend is down from Cumbria. We arrived at about 1 and it was cheerfully busy without the queue outside the door which can be common on a Saturday. We deliberated over whether to have paninis and if so, what to have in them but then we decided to have one last look at the hot counter and instantly decided on gnocchi for me and sausages for Nor.
We had a lovely Insalate de Caprese to begin with; slivers of ripe tomatoes and the creamy brilliance of buffalo mozzerella, drizzles of extra virgin olive oil and basil. So simple but so perfect. The mozzerella was thick and creamy without the bitterness you can get from cow’s milk mozzarella and without the flavour of the water it comes stored in. We agreed we could have eaten it 7 times over and as a main course twice!
Next followed Nor’s italian sausages in a red wine gravy with roasted potatoes and my gnocchi with cream, peas and pancetta. Nor’s sausages were thick and tasty, full of real meat, in a lovely thick stocky gravy with plenty of roasted red onion. And the potatoes… oh the potatoes. Crispy, fluffy, savoury and so hot, Nor blistered her tongue in her enthusiasm. My gnocchi were thick and fresh, the creamy sauce like a warm comforting hug on a day of horrible weather..
We had wondered whether to have pudding and even contemplated some more of the potatoes but we ventured to the cake counter and were not disappointed. There was a lemon cake, an amaretto cake that looked like a tiramisu, several cheesecakes, a bakewell-looking cake and an apple cake. We went for the amaretto cake and the toffee cheesecake, which they describe as millionaire’s cheesecake, and they were definitely worth the decision! The amaretto cake was sensational, covered in almonds and full of rich amaretto and cream. It was as light as a feather and so creamy. We made all of the noises you would expect; ‘oohs’ and ‘aahhs’. The toffee cheesecake was thick and heavy but also light and slipped down.
Nor had a glass of house red and a lemon San Pellegrino and I had an orange San Pellegrino and the bill came to £34. A lovely lunch before we picked up our bags and made our way out to a watery sunshiny afternoon.
The Italian Club, 85 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4HF. 0151 708 5508.