I think the real success of a good lunch place is a simple menu with lots of things that make you want to eat them. It’s a really simple formula and should be effortless but people do seem to make a real pig’s ear of it. Then you come across somewhere that not only ticks all the boxes, it does so effortlessly and you think this is a winner and there’s a reason it’s so busy. In Liverpool, there are so many places to go for lunch but a lot of them don’t appeal for many reasons, too fussy, not quite tasty enough, too busy, too pretentious but LEAF is different for so many reasons.
Discussing the absence of the Everyman Bistro the other day, someone likened LEAF to a very cool youth club for people in their twenties and it really sort of is. There’s a Scrabble club that I’m dying to join, a pudding club that I’m dying to join, cool music, very cool people, quite a lot of posing and very cool deco. Normally the combination of very cool people and posing is enough to put me off a place but LEAF is different partly because you feel absolutely at home no matter how skinny your jeans are.
Ant and I went for lunch last time we were in Liverpool together as we fancied something hearty and tasty and because he hadn’t been before. Last time, I fell for the Soup and Sandwich offer which is exceptionally good value at £6.50 and it was really good but this time I wanted to try more of the menu to see what else they excel at. There is a great big menu, both on clipboards and on the wall above the bar, and some great sounding Specials that change frequently. There are a good selection of drinks available but as we had both had a late night of challenging board games, we settled for a Coke and an orange juice and lemonade (which by the way, I recommend as a wonder cure for all ailments) as we perused the menu.
Ant decided to go for the great sandwich and soup option, he chose red pepper and tomato soup and a pork and leek sausage sandwich, which having tasted before I knew would be good. I really struggled to choose, not because I couldn’t choose one thing but because I wanted so many things. We decided to share a bowl of the chipped new potatoes with paprika mayo from the Nibbles menu and spiced peanut chicken with a cucumber salad from the same Nibbles section. I then decided I would have to try the steak ciabatta with mushrooms and caramelised onions (£7.50).
After a short wait, during which time I attempted to steal someone else’s squid having seen it going past and wanting it desperately (one to try next time), our food arrived and always it was an absolute joy. Ant pronounced his sandwich and soup with a massive thumbs up, lots of flavour and tasty to boot. The fried new potatoes are delicious, and in my opinion, better than actual chips! My steak sandwich was delicious, perfectly cooked steak and nice, fresh ciabatta. But the real scene-stealer, star of the show, was the spiced peanut chicken with a cucumber salad. The chicken was coated with the perfect satay of peanuts and spice and the cucumber salad, with some thinly sliced radish, underneath was fresh and zingy, the perfect antidote. It was all drizzled with a sweet chilli sauce and we both decided it was one of the nicest things we’ve eaten in a while. I would like to recreate this as a starter at home as it was so simple but perfectly done.
There’s a selection of lovely looking cakes and, of course, the most amazing selection of teas. As someone who can no longer drink caffeine, I really look forward to working my way through their selection of 12 herbal and fruit teas. Most places keep peppermint and ginger if you’re lucky so this is really exciting!
It’s definitely worth checking the website to see what’s on, bands, clubs and music nights are all listed and in the meantime, I shall be furiously working on my Scrabble technique.