The last time I was up in Liverpool, I was lucky enough to make it to the Quarter twice in two days. Once for a very late lunch after a number of appointments and morning tutorials and the next day again for Sunday lunch. I have always recommended The Quarter to others, especially when I worked at a pub around the corner, I used to send people over to there when we ran out of tables assuring them that the food was much better and I would rather be there – I was a particularly loyal member of staff! It’s one of my favourite places in Liverpool and we’re hugely lucky to have it around the corner from the house, it’s the shortest of walks which suits weekend dining in my opinion. The other great factor about The Quarter is that, as anyone who goes regularly knows, the real treats lie on the changing Specials boards and these days, we pay little attention to the paper menus and focus on the board. This is where the real innovation and the best of the cooking is shown.
The Saturday we visited for lunch (although pushing the lunch label a bit at half past 4) was incredibly busy but it’s very rare to find any time now that The Quarter isn’t bustling. It used to be just 2 and a half rooms and now it’s extended beyond into nearly 5 rooms of tables and chairs and has the fantastic deli on the side for visiting after lunch. We were seated by the window but the waiter had no problem about moving us when I realised I couldn’t see a thing due to the wonderful November afternoon sun.
We both ordered drinks, the San Pellegrino Aranciata for me and a Coke for the boy, and perused the Specials board. Every day there is a soup of ever-changing variety and I think it was a Roasted Red Pepper that day. There are usually about 5 starters and 5 mains on the Specials board and there’s usually a lunchtime special (served from about 12-5) on the tables. The Specials often include plenty of vegetarian and fishy options. There is of course the paper menu but we’ve lived around the corner for 5 years and have tried and loved everything on that many times, that saying I would recommend the Pasta Benedict in a heartbeat and the pizza bases are amongst the best I’ve ever eaten. All the pasta and pizza dough is made in house and is squeaky fresh and paired with good, fresh and bold ingredients. We both decided that we fancied the chicken and chorizo croquettes and the chicken liver and pancetta pate from the starters selection so we decided to have one each and share and then we would both have the roast lamb and mint sauce ciabatta that was the lunchtime special that day.
Our order arrived quickly, speed is definitely on your side in the Quarter, if you needed to be in and out for the theatre, there’s no doubting that you’d make your curtain call! The croquettes were lovely, full of flavour and creamy with the faint hint of garlic that they need. The outsides were shardy, crispy and they were served with a good dollop of aioli – no fancy streaks here! We inhaled these with delight. The pate came on a long board with crispy pieces of toast and a chutney, we weren’t entirely sure what was in the chutney; my guess was gooseberry, the boy said strawberry, we agreed to disagree! What we did agree on though was the knockout flavour of the pate, none of the bitterness that you often get with homemade chicken liver pate but it was undeniably homemade. It was earthy and subtle and we ordered plate upon plate of more bread to savour each and every last bit. We did even consider ordering more pate as another course! We were so disappointed when we went back the next day with friends and it was sold out on the menu, I would petition for it again if I thought I had any clout!
Our ciabattas arrive shortly after and while they’re not quite as beautiful to look at as the starters, they make up for it in sheer grr-ability. You know that feeling you get when you look at a particularly manly steak sandwich or a good cornish pasty; the meal equivalent of a Yorkie. The ciabatta is delightfully fresh and the lamb is huge chunks of rare lamb steak. which in my world is absolute bliss. We each had a small ramekin of mint sauce and the sandwich was so large that I managed to throw mine everywhere when I was eating it. An elderly lady at the next table looked horrified as the contents of my sandwich flew in the air but I didn’t mind at all, I just ate the delicious bits. The boy, who was less ridiculous and managed to keep his together, pronounced it far more delicious than he could have imagined it being, which is a compliment I can assure you. The picture does it absolutely no justice whatsoever so pay scant heed to that but the chips are beautiful and crunchy and fluffy and all you are looking for in a good chip.
On the way out, we selected some cakes from the cake fridge to take home and eat in front of a film and my soul intention was to take a photo of the cake fridge and I forgot so you’re permitted to rap me firmly on the knuckles with a metre rule but imagine, if you will, a huge glass serve-over filled with every kind of cake you could ever imagine and you would be getting there. It’s delicious, they’re delicious.
Also, the deli, mentioned briefly before, is a mecca for food lovers in Liverpool filled with delicious pates (alas not THE pate from lunch but other equally delicious ones), beautiful bread, cakes, chutneys etc. We often buy a Sunday supper of pates, chutneys, cheese and bread from here after Sunday lunch.
All of this and at less then £15 a head too. Someone asked me about my favourite restaurants at the weekend and I said that one of my absolute favourites is the Quarter. The staff are, without exception, charming and friendly despite being rushed off their feet, the atmosphere is buzzy and cosy at the same time, sitting outside in the summer feels like holidaying abroad and the food is simple but reliably delicious and inventive. It’s certainly not the snazziest restaurant or the finest dining in Liverpool but it’s like a cosy old friend who you can curl up with a cup of tea with and that’s what you want just around the corner.