Roja Pinchos, 50 Berry Street, Liverpool, L1 4JQ – Visit Now
A restaurant with a concept that feels good, not gimmicky – Roja Pinchos does delicious food, on sticks.
When a restaurant falls into the good graces of the delightfully acerbic Marina O’Loughlin, then you know it must be doing something right. Recently, she paid a visit to Liverpool, and after landing a scathing blow on a (locally lauded) Bold St eaterie, she went on to call Berry Street’s Roja Pinchos ‘a little cracker’. For those of us living here, it came as a bit of a surprise. Unlike other recent openings, Roja Pinchos simply appeared one day with no slick PR campaign or fanfare, just another one of those places you’d wander past on your way to somewhere else (usually the fantastic Berry & Rye). Could Liverpool’s best new restaurant really be hidden in plain sight?
Well, we’re pleased to confirm that Pinchos is an absolute delight, and then some. Its concept is, simply, food on sticks. Which may not sound particularly exciting (and puts one in mind of Abigail’s Party), but this isn’t just any food on sticks. Think more fluffy, moreish slabs of tortilla than cheese and pineapple monstrosities. Small sticks are £1.50, and large sticks are £3. You stick them in a glass on your table and simply pay for what you eat. It’s a novel – and fun – concept which encourages you to sit and linger with a glass of wine rather than watch the clock because your table needs to be returned in two hours. We visited on a Sunday where, for the princely sum of £15, you get to feast like royalty on unlimited pinchos and a glass of cava. That’s right. Unlimited pinchos. Arguably there are few better words in the English/Spanish language.
Pinchos is an absolute delight, and then some. Its concept is, simply, food on sticks
It’s easy for your eyes to become bigger than your belly in a place like this, particularly when everything looks like a gigantic buffet. There’s no menu either, so we recommend starting with a few cold snacks and working your way up to the big stuff. On the night we visited, there was an array of delicious treats such as bread topped with slices of manchego with sweet-sharp cubes of quince paste, bright and briny anchovies accompanied by bracing black olive tapenade, and satisfyingly stuffed roasted red peppers. Seafood salad can be a difficult dish to get right, but here the balance was perfect, with each ingredient enrobed in just the right amount of the stuff rather than drowned to the point of becoming inedible gloop.
Hot dishes were equally good. Small slices of bread were topped with an array of delicious little bites, from perfectly cooked slabs of sea bass with a beetroot pistou, to firm smoky, snappy chorizo accompanied by a tiny fried quail’s egg with a satisfyingly runny yolk. Slices of medium rare beef bavette accompanied by a zingy salsa verde, sticks of crispy, crunchy fried chicken accompanied by a curried sauce so good you’ll be swiping bits off your partner’s plate when they’re not looking.
Rolls of pork cooked in a porchetta style were wrapped around dates and melted cheese, which looked like a heart attack waiting to happen but tasted like a dream (although, if we’re being picky, these could have possibly benefitted from more dates and less cheese. Now there’s something we never thought we’d write). A plate of wild mushroom croquettes were so indulgently rich that you can feel your blood pressure rocketing with every bite. All this (and more) was served up staff who were knowledgeable, patient, considerate and friendly – no mean feat when you’re serving up greedy people a möbius loop of tapas.
At £50 for two (with drinks), Roja Pinchos felt like great value (particularly as we’ve recently paid way more money for way less food in nearby establishments). But this was a deal – and, if you wanted to quibble, you could argue that paying £3 for a prawn on a stick is a mug’s game – as well as an easy way to run up a huge bill after a glass of wine or three. To get the best out of Roja Pinchos we recommend going on a Sunday with an empty belly, a willing partner and a desire to fill your boots on some seriously good food. Thanks for the tip, Marina.