In the midst of my recuperation following a hip replacement (I know I cannot believe it either, at my age, who would have thought) I had a surprise treat from Red (the wife). She was given a day off and had arranged to treat me to a visit to the recently opened Old Blind School on Hardman Street in Liverpool. This is the latest venture of David Mooney and Paul Newman’s New Moon Company which runs several decent eateries in the North West of England including Beef and Pudding in Manchester. So following a brief sojourn around Liverpool One, a small price to pay for a good lunch, we were parked up by The Philharmonic and entering the Old Blind School. The building itself is an impressive structure and, in a Ronsealesque way was formerly the School for the Blind between the 1850s and 1950s.
We were greeted and offered the choice of bar or restaurant and having opted for the latter, we were taken upstairs and sat, by Ellis our welcoming and polite waitress, in a good window seat overlooking the human menagerie that is Hardman Street. The upstairs is a split dining room with a narrow bar area in the centre. The look is grand urban chic with a combination of leatherette banquettes and mixed wooden chairs. It is all obviously new but has been styled well to feel old.
“The look is grand urban chic with a combination of leatherette banquettes and mixed wooden chairs.”
A quick look at the menu suggests British classics and burgers are at the centre of the place. In addition there is a real specialism in sharing platters, or planks, most notably the Rushton Grill which boasts Liverpool’s biggest and best mixed grill sharer:
2 16oz T Bone steaks, Short bone rib beef, 2 Veal cutlets, 2 Chicken breasts, 4 Cumberland sausages, 10oz Gammon steak – hand cut chips, beer-basted onion, roasted tomatoes, honey-roasted carrots – béarnaise & pepper sauces – house gravy all for £150, though to be fair this is suggested for at least 4 people to share.
we went for more traditional choices. For starters we decided to share the deliciously sounding vodka cured sea bass fillet and some artisan breads. Then for our mains we both chose burgers: Red the School House burger and I went for ‘The Boss’. Sadly, Ellis informed us that there was no sea bass (maybe there was a pre-lunch run on them) so instead we chose the beer roasted onion tart.
“There was plenty of bread…accompanied by oil and the most luxuriously sweet and moorish balsamic glaze”
The room we were in was shared by the open kitchen pass which is always a welcome addition, allowing the diner to get a feel for the level of professionalism in a kitchen, and from our observations this was a good one. Our starters were delivered: the artisan breads were very good, one wholemeal, the other white with poppy seeds. There was plenty of bread, 3 big chunks of each, accompanied by oil and the most luxuriously sweet and moorish balsamic glaze I have ever had. The beer roasted onion tart was also very good with the onion on a puff pastry base and delightfully salted old spot ham. This was well cooked and avoided the often fatal soggy bottom. It was well dressed with a mustard glaze.
In between courses, we both availed ourselves of the facilities and it is clear to see that quite a bit of money has been spent on the refurbishment of this building. The sort of refurb that costs even more to ensure that the place doesn’t look like it has been refurbed. By that I mean the toilets are immaculate but with the sort of very expensive ‘toilet crockery’ that makes it look almost industrial. Red did, however, report no toilet roll in the ladies. Nevertheless the overall image is a good one and a welcome addition to Liverpool’s improving upper middle dining options.
Anyway following our discrete nose powdering visits, after which Red actually got lost, Ellis brought over our mains. Red’s School House burger was cooked medium /well as requested. A veritable tower of inch thick mature minced beef on a caramelised onion brioche bun with additional crispy bacon. This was served with ‘real’ chips and tomato and roast garlic relish. Red was very impressed with both the burger and the chips; the former being very well seasoned and ‘meaty’ and the latter light, fluffy and well salted.
In short this was a very impressive burger.
As for mine, The Boss, well it was certainly impressive in its appearance, about 3 foot in height (Ok I am exaggerating but still lots of it). This was the House burger with stripped down (whatever that means) bourbon rubbed BBQ beef, Cheshire cheese, onion rings, more ‘real’ chips, a herb brioche bun, ‘Howling at the Moon’ sauce and stock pot gravy. In short this was a very impressive burger. In long – the burger itself was well cooked with dense and flavoursome beef. The BBQ beef on top was moorish in a Simon Rimmer’s pulled pork sort of way. Particular mention should go to the onion rings which were an ethereal delight and by far the best either I or Red have eaten.
I had been warned by Ellis about the ‘Howling at the Moon’ sauce, which was served in a syringe-like pipette into the burger, that it was the chef’s own recipe and very hot. In reality I love hot but this was not really for me. Yes it had plenty of heat but equally had a strong aniseed taste and smell, which many people may like, but I don’t. Nothing wrong with it but just not for me. Finally the stock pot gravy I initially thought was an over complication – why have gravy when you have all the other sauce? However, I was wrong. It may have been an over complication but it was a very deliciously moorish one that both Red and I used to dip our ‘real’ chips into.
In the end, such was the size of the burger, that even I was unable to finish it all so when Ellis came with dessert menus she was politely dismissed and the bill requested. The cost coming in at just under £40 for the two of us was a reasonable price for the quality food we had been served. So having paid I decided I needed to return home to continue my recuperation asleep on the couch! A very enjoyable meal and definitely a place to visit again.
Type: High end restaurant
- Service: 9/10 good, prompt and professional!
- Atmosphere: 9/10 quieter of a lunchtime but expensive grand urban chic.
- Food: 8.5/10 Very good meal and delightful onion rings!
- Value for money: 8/10 a fair priced lunchtime menu.
- Overall: 8.5 A great treat and well worth a visit
Website: Old Blind School