The Monro is looking to reboot their menu, although their reputation is a complex one, as one of the forerunners of the Liverpool Gastropub scene, they somehow straddled between high-end pub dining and being a bit of a local boozer without ever really sitting comfortably in either camp or as a true hybrid. Now The Monro is looking to really push their reputation along using a foundation of talent and experience along with a new menu excellent front of house staff and judging by the evening’s progression, in the kitchen along with some promising promotions from within their existing ranks.
James Campbell has done the rounds; Fraiche (which still holds its Michelin star), the Art School with Paul Askew (one of Marina O’Loughin’s high points of her visit in an otherwise disappointing review [http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/12/art-school-restaurant-liverpool-review-marina-o-loughlin] and Wirral’s Thornton Hall (where Great British Menu entrant, Matthew Worswick resides as head chef) and is now settled at The Monro; although this event was only his first night, it was a calm and experienced show from him, giving the impression of an easy symbiosis to come.
The Beetroot and Strawberry consommé was a jolt and a bit of a rewire for the senses; somewhat sweet on the nose, it was intensely savoury with a meaty buzz to it; which is interesting, not entirely unpleasant and meets with mixed responses from the table. The temperature also provided a somewhat uneasy edge to the amuseé bouche, being served cold with such an earthy and savoury flavour set wasn’t altogether accessible.
The first foray proper into the menu was wood pigeon served alongside pickled carrot and a brioche crumb, the plate was also scattered with a speckling of puree and some salad leaves to bring some colour forth. The pigeon was cooked almost perfectly, although there was possibly a little too much resistance in the texture for perfection, but the partners for this dish worked excellently, aside from a slightly redundant note from the crumb.
Next we moved to lamb rump, which judging by the flavours and response to solid cooking technique is sourcing of some good cuts. The black olive caramel sauce served with the lamb was intensely umami rich and other elements were spot on for bringing total balance to the dish, including a potato wrapped feta parcel and pea shoots.
Finally a raspberry sauce hiding a vanilla pannacotta beneath in a kilner jar, dotted with raspberries, lemon balm microherbs and biscuit crumb – deliciously sweet, acidic, palate cleansing and supremely balanced. This is how to get a dessert to sing; well thought out elements, kept relatively simple but put together with skill and care.
The Monro’s intent was pretty clear on the night, up the game for the food and retain the charm of the surroundings to push forward as a place more focussed on its menu, whilst nurturing some of the pub sensibilities it is known for. The Monro is certainly not just a pub that does good food if they build some sort of positive trajectory, based on this showing.
Disclaimer: This meal was offered to ElectroKemist Cuisine in return for feedback following an invite to review this restaurant, however, the review above remains an honest opinion of the experience.
Thanks to Charlie Hooson-Sykes for the use of a couple of images in this piece.
You can follow her on Twitter under @The_Lady_Sybil
92 Duke Street
Tel: 0151 707 9933