In the post 3 Queens haze Red and I dared to venture into Liverpool City Centre hoping the crowds will have dissipated, the ships departed and status quo returned to our humble little coastal city. The cause of our sojourn was a half term treat without the two lads. Red had wanted to take me to the Italian Fish Club and, as any avid reader of my reviews will know, she is a sucker for a deal, so when Living Social featured a 3 course special for two she was like a dog with two dingles. The Italian Fish Club is the second venture of Rosario Crolla and her partner Mauricio Pellegrini following in the footsteps of the very successful Italian Club across the street and has a real family run feel to the place. Indeed the family journey to Liverpool via Scotland is an enjoyable read on their website.
“I have a level of attention deficit that can only be matched by a goldfish with Alzheimer’s disease and a drink problem”
A pleasant stroll up Bold Street, which continues to enhance its reputation as a culinary hot spot, and we arrived at the Italian Club Fish for our early lunch. Greeted quickly and pleasantly we were offered our pick of the pleasant dining room: rustic chic, wooden and wicker chairs and beautiful pictures of what looked like the Amalfi coast. Red ushered us both towards a window seat, making the mistake of having me face out on to the passing traffic and wildlife (this was not a wise move as I have a level of attention deficit that can only be matched by a goldfish with Alzheimer’s disease and a drink problem).
Anyway, the menu is a decent offering of fish, Italian and non fish dishes, but our voucher gave us a slightly more limited selection, yet still varied enough. Red started with the Bruschetta Marinara with marinated mackerel followed by the Pollo Milanese (I know, fish restaurant – hello!!) whilst I had the Calamari Fritti and the Fish Pie. As Red chatted awaiting our food and whilst I watched every passing vehicle, bird, animal or human with the swivel eyed enthusiasm of a baby puppy, we couldn’t but notice that the place was starting to fill up at a reasonable rate. This in itself is not unusual, it was the fact that over 80% of the new diners (Red did the maths) were Far Eastern. The reason I make this point is not the start of some misguided UKIP type of tirade about ‘Johnny Foreigner’, far from it. It is because, my formative years were spent working for a number of Chinese families in the food industry and, despite the often exotic looking nature of the food (mostly chicken’s feet from memory) they all to a man (and woman) knew good food and flavours. So my mantra has often been “if the Chinese community eat there it must be good” (not a very catchy saying but hey ho).
“The stars of the dish were the large jumbo prawns which sang out when combined with the well balanced creamy flavour of the tartar sauce”
Anyway back to the food. Sadly, our waitress returned to inform Red that there was no mackerel but that the kitchen could use smoked salmon instead. Red seemed happy with this whilst I concentrated on the passing masses of humanity. The Calamari Fritti was very good: calamari rings and tentacles along with king prawns served with salad and a homemade tartar sauce. This was a very good dish. The batter was very light and whilst the tentacles were slightly over done the rings were excellent and the stars of the dish were the large jumbo prawns which sang out when combined with the well balanced creamy flavour of the tartar sauce. This was a large portion and, especially impressive as we were ‘voucher people’. Red’s bruschetta was not as successful as the smoked salmon did not work as well as the original Mackerel would have done and the bruschetta itself was slightly dry and required more olive oil. Nevertheless it was still a reasonable dish.
“This was hotter than Sofia Vergara dressed in a nurses outfit with 2 tickets to the Champion’s League final and a chilled bottle of Veuve Cliquot”
Between courses there was another leisurely gap of time which I occupied by further anthropomorphic study of the Bold Street tribe whilst Red talked. When they did arrive, once again we were very pleased with the portion sizes – being on a voucher did not diminish quantity in any way. I am convinced that restaurants across the country are in competition to see how hot they can make a fish pie and here was no exception this was hotter than Sofia Vergara dressed in a nurses outfit with 2 tickets to the Champion’s League final and a chilled bottle of Veuve Cliquot. In terms of taste it was very good. The mashed potato topping (which cleverly extended down the sides of the pie) had a delicious parmesan crust and was well cooked to ensure a moorish crispiness. Guessing the contents of a fish pie is like uessing the contents of a lady’s handbag but there was a delicious combination of salmon, white fish and a more robust darker fish, presumably tuna. Though not as good as the outstanding fish pie at Albina in Crosby, all was well cooked, flavoured and very delicious my only complaints are my burned mouth and the fact I had to stop Red pilfering the crispy top.
Red’s Pollo Milanese was also very good. The spaghetti in fresh tomato sauce was of the quality, flavour and freshness you would wish for from a proper Italian kitchen, whilst the pan fried chicken in breadcrumbs, I was concerned looked a little dry, but far from it they were very moist and delicious when taken with the spaghetti. Again portions were very large, especially the chicken which could easily have been served with one breast rather than two but I am certainly not one to complain about big portions, keep them coming!
“The cheesecake had a rich luxurious creaminess which contrasted well with the accompanying grapefruit and mandarin”
Finally for dessert we decided to share our choices of Torta Volter and Delizia Al Limone. True to form these were big portions as well (pop goes another button). The Torta Volter was a warm chocolate and almond cake was actually very light and moist with the almond working well with the sweetness of the chocolate. As for the Delizia Al Limone this was lemon cheescake served with strawberry ice cream. The cheesecake had a rich luxurious creaminess which contrasted well with the accompanying grapefruit and mandarin. Meanwhile the ice cream was absolutely delicious as you would expect from a Scottish / Italian family!
So all in all a very enjoyable lunch, which with the vouchers was a steal at £30 for 3 course for 2 people and certainly no scrimping on quality or portion sizes.
Type: family / budget restaurant
- Service: 7/10 Pleasant but leisurely gaps between courses
- Atmosphere: 8/10 nice dining room, rustic chic
- Food: 8/10 good fresh food cooked well.
- Value for money: 9/10 particularly with a voucher £30 for 3 courses for 2 people
- Overall: 8 A very good addition to Bold Street. Well worth a visit.
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: Italian Club Fish