This pop-up restaurant seems to be coming to an end of its six monthly experiment, having had its soft launch in November 2018, and, according to the reviews, will be sorely missed by the Sunday lunch brigade. However, what is of equal interest are the other culinary pursuits of David, Victoria and the rest of the Bitter Social team. This is for many a trek down the gastronomical side roads that for some will be to off their comfort zone. However, it would be a trip worth taking….
As nearly always when I step out to do a food review, I try to ascertain if the restauranteurs behind the venture have that one main ingredient that is needed for success – passion. And Victoria and David have it in bucket-loads. Initially not expecting us, we were given a very warm welcome, and then schooled in the philosophy of Bitter Social. The proof of the pudding was definitely in the eating.
We left David and Victoria to choose our dishes and their selections did not disappoint. Each dish was paired with a certain beverage in order to enhance the experience of our taste-buds, to cleanse and enrich the palette. And, to a certain extent, it was a highly successful experiment, which started with the seasonal pickles made in the Bitter Social custom brine. Comprising of an unlikely trinity of radish, onion and grapes, the custom brine enabled the onion and grapes a pleasing heightened flavour – with just the right acidity – but to our tastes the radish failed to be enhanced by the process. However, the cocktail of banana, sherry, averna and pistachio was, having never experienced the famous Italian liqueur, an unexpected delight.
Two very, very nice dishes followed. The cheese ravioli with mushroom and spinach was an absolute triumph. Beautifully presented, with a melt in the mouth lightness, it would lift the most down-trodden of spirits. So light, it was a wonder it stayed on the plate. And the cuts of pork with a sumptuous honey mustard glaze were equally divine. Using a local supplier – Hogans – this was a ridiculously simple dish, but perfectly executed. The cocktails that came with these dishes was also a talking point on our table, and can
be split into the categories of amazing and interesting.
First the interesting. The suze, lillet rose and bell pepper combo has the most delayed “kick” I have ever experienced, probably facilitated by the inclusion of the bell-pepper. This is certainly a drink for the more hardy of us drinkers. An acquired taste indeed. Now I am not a gin drinker – vodka and red wine being my poison of choice – but the oyster shell gin with bianco vermouth was utterly amazing. My fellow gastronaut, who loves her gin, proclaimed this as one of the best. David told me that the oyster shells were involved in the distillery process, and you could actually experience a calming sea breeze on the palate. This stuff is the best, and gin lovers need to experience it as soon as possible. All roads lead to Bitter Social for the lovers of gin. Sublime.
Being a lover of a good Fishermen’s pie, I wasn’t let down by Bitter Social’s take on the classic. The coley, prawns and salmon combined in creating a great example of real comfort food, a must as the weather turns colder. To complete our own curated “tasting menu”, we concluded with the upside down clementine cake with amaro, paired with a cocktail of cachaca, hazelnut and chocolate sprinkles. Cachaca is a spirit that hails
from Brazil and is made from the sugar cane juice itself, making it technically a brandy. It was again a first for me, and it complimented the clementine cake – just as it was meant too. The cake itself was moist on the inside with the caramelised outing yielding a satisfying snap, leading to the faint, lingering hint of clementine.
As I have previously said above, David, Victoria and the rest of the Bitter Social team have passion running through their veins, and should be commended for bringing their culinary manifesto to the good burghers of Liverpool. Experience that was forged in London, we are now reaping the benefits of their experience and sense of adventure. From the sumac infused onion in our first dish to the cleansing oyster shell gin, this was
a pleasurable two hour schooling in pairings, blends, and the exotic. Between courses David confided one of his ambitions – to harvest his own oysters from the waters of the River Mersey. And I can imagine him and Victoria making this a reality. They have a rare vision and culinary flare, which will no doubt see them succeed in all of their ventures. The road less travelled is sometime the most satisfying.