The Philharmonic Dining Rooms doesn’t just look good – this Liverpudlian pub handles its drink well too.
You don’t have to go far to find a decent pub in Liverpool. A short stroll between the city’s two cathedrals (famously positioned at opposite ends of the same street) takes you past at least four excellent boozers. The very best of these has to be the architectural gem that is the Philharmonic Dining Rooms (lovingly referred to by the locals as “The Phil”). Situated on Hope Street – which we once heard breathlessly described on Radio 4 as “the Boulevard Saint Germain of the North” – The Phil (not to be confused with the actual Philharmonic Hall concert venue across the road) is a breathtakingly ornate, Art Deco drinking den. An architectural marvel, we’ve yet to find another pub in the country with a Grade II-listed gents.
It’s not just the toilets that dazzle though – the whole building is a testament to stunning Victorian design and Northern civic pride. The interior is swathed in gleaming mahogany, beaten copper reliefs, elegant tiles and art-deco chandeliers. And while its main dining room is a great space to eat, drink and carouse with friends in, we’re quite fond of the numerous little side rooms, each named after a different composer. The cosy atmosphere (and exceedingly comfortable sofas) make these great places to hide away with an amour and a bottle of wine on a chilly afternoon.
But enough about the fixtures and fittings, what about the booze? Well, with The Phil being CAMRA approved, you’re always sure of a decent pint. Its current selection of autumn ales (a list of which can be found on its website) boasts an excellent selection of stouts, IPAs, blondes and speciality ales from across the globe, as well as a cracking – and very reasonably priced – wine list.
The food is fairly unadventurous “pub grub” fare – think pies, bangers and mash and the ubiquitous fish and chips – but you could do a lot worse. It’s difficult to get brie fondue wrong and the one that we tried, when last there, was undeniably tasty; a great bubbling mass of cheese topped with pale ale chutney. It reminded us that there are few finer things in life than good bread and melted cheese.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Scouser who wouldn’t agree that The Philharmonic Dining Rooms is one of the jewels in Liverpool’s cultural crown (John Lennon once complained that the price of fame was no longer being able to drink there). If you only manage to visit one pub the next time you’re in the area, make sure it’s this one.