Hanover Street Social, Casartelli Building, 16-20 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 4AA – Visit Now
It may not do prissy and primped fine dining but the Liverpool restaurant outshines its fellow self-styled “brasseries.”
Call it cynicism – or even good old fashioned Northern churlishness – but I’ve always been faintly suspicious about anywhere in the UK calling itself a brasserie. The word may convey notions of charming little gaellic eateries where unflappable waiters top up your delicious but cheap red wine but the British reality is often anonymous chains doling out stale garlic bread. When you live in a country where the godawful Café Rouge is deemed to be a fine example of the type, you could be forgiven for going off the concept completely.
So when presented with Hanover Street Social, a large – city centre restaurant styling itself as a French brasserie with a pinch of New York flair – it’s hard not to get that sinking feeling, although in this case your fears would be unfounded. Situated in the self-styled “food quarter” (aka the intersection of Hanover Street, Duke Street and Liverpool One), a mere hop, skip and jump away from its sister establishment, the excellent Salt House Tapas, Hanover Street Social is tastefully fitted out and has a relaxed atmosphere. Its huge windows provide you with ample people watching opportunities (making it a perfect first date venue; when the conversation stalls, there’s always something outside to comment on) and its long bar is the perfect place to perch on a stool while sedately sipping a Sunday Bloody Mary.
The hangover-busting breakfast specials chase any residual whisky regret away
Owing to its brasserie styling, Hanover Street Social is more suited to long, leisurely brunches (accompanied by hair-of-the-dog cocktails) or chatty family outings than prissy and primped fine dining. Its menu is stuffed with mouth-watering classics for any time of day. There are hangover-busting breakfast specials sure to chase any residual whisky regret away (from French toast with maple syrup and bacon to “The Full Social,” a full English with bacon, sausage and black pudding) and plenty of crowd-pleasing dinner options, such as the excellent roasted chicken with fondant potatoes. The Hanover Street Social burger may not be the best in the city but it comfortably outclasses the reheated discs served up in franchise places.
Not everything at Hanover Street Social scores top marks, though. When we dined there recently, the duck paté starter was lip-puckeringly sour. That was instantly forgotten though, as it was followed by a delightfully crisp-skinned roast chicken so delicious that we practically licked our plates clean. A bit flash in style, somewhat more wholesome in content and fairly easy on the wallet – Hanover Street Social is the kind of restaurant Liverpool needs, especially these days. And there’s not a checked tablecloth or stale baguette in sight.