“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”
The second half of this double review came about through complete accident. In true public-spirited dad mode I had arranged to take Fidget along with family friends, the Vincenzos, to see the former headquarters of the White Star Line in Liverpool, the place from where the sinking of the Titanic was first announced. Red had declined the offer to view this rare glimpse into history as she needed to accompany Shy to his football.
Anyway as we approached the building on the Liverpool waterfront it became very clear that it wasn’t just us looking to nose around the old HQ. In fact the queues were more reminiscent of a hot summer afternoon in Alton Towers awaiting the latest stomach churner. We were against a fairly tight schedule to return so had to accept defeat for this historical pilgrimage. Nothing picks up wilting spirits, however, like a decent breakfast / snack. Two minutes later we were parking up outside Unit 51.
Now Unit 51 does sound like a CIA inspired lock up, you know somewhere you can store all those odds and ends like alien probes, spaceships and toothless hicks. Luckily for us, none of the above were present. We entered a bright and spacious dining space which, as with the Baltic Bakehouse, had gone for that industrial chic look. unlike the Baltic Bakehouse, Unit 51 carries it off well. Simple wooden tables but with a clean and welcoming feel.
The menu was plentiful ranging from simple breakfast choices and lunch options to more substantial fare. Ordering was simple and the service polite and efficient. I opted for the sausage sandwich, Fidget chose the french toast with yogurt and fresh fruit (he takes after his mother), and Vincenzo plumped for the poached eggs with vine tomatoes. These were accompanied by two banana and strawberry smoothies and a pot of tea. Once again I will avoid taking you on a tour of the other Vincenzo family selections.
As we awaited our food we looked around at the place. It is a real, quirky set up. Beyond the cafe are a series of sheds for various small start-up businesses and at the back of the room was a small flea market taking place. This we decided to explore before eating. Only a couple of stalls but some very strange objects. You know the sort of things that you pick up to take the p*ss but then get collared by the owner and have to pretend you were considering buying? Or is that just me? Old ’70s records, rails of retro dresses, secretive wooden boxes which we opened gingerly in case we started some sort of Jumanji moment! The best of all, however, was the collection of painted dolls heads (see image). No I don’t know why either, though I have to admit I did consider buying this one for Red to leave under her pillow should she ever cross me!
Anyway the arrival of our food allowed us to escape the Hammer house of Horror stall and its charming yet slightly sinister owner. The sausage sandwich arrived toasted and was excellent, accompanied by a very fresh selection of salad leaves. Vincenzo’s poached eggs and vine tomatoes were equally good: perfectly cooked and bursting with flavour. Finally, the highlight of the food was Fidget’s french toast which he described as “the nicest thing I have ever eaten”. This is praise indeed as he is a fairly well travelled 12 year old. Tea was good and the banana and strawberry smoothies were so good they needed to be replaced within seconds of their arrival.
So after the sinking feeling of missing out on the opportunity to see a key Titanic-linked piece of history (I do write all my own jokes) we were able to cheer ourselves up with an out-of-this-world experience at Unit 51.
- Service: 9/10 polite, friendly and efficient
- Atmosphere: 9/10 chilled and trendy
- Food: 9.5/10 really excellent for all dishes
- Value for money: 9/10 decent price for quality food
- Overall: 9 Excellent, apart from scary doll!
These are judged against the best of that type of restaurant. For example cafes against what you would expect from the best cafes, high end restaurants against the best high end restaurants etc.
Website: Unit 51