I'm dead lucky. Two reasons. Firstly, I get invited to try out new menus at restaurants, which is ideal for someone whose main hobby is eating. Secondly, I have a ready supply of folk who want to accompany me on these ventures! My friend Lee is my usual partner in crime as we share a mutual love of mid-afternoon cocktails, eating lots, and making friends with strangers.
This week we went on a little trip to NYL Restaurant and Bar in Liverpool. We made a bit of a day of it, which also involved buying lots of goodies from L'Occitane, befriending a delightful young chap called Alan in Kiehl's, an epic trek to the Rookwood (which was closed - hiss, stamp), and more cocktails in Lucha Libre. It was quite a day.
When we rocked up at NYL, we weren't expecting anything quite so grand. The vibe is very much 'New York meets Liverpool' - thus the name. We thought it reminded us much more of traditional English high society, in a similar way to the styling of Hawksmoor.
We were greeted by the delightful Hannah, who seemed genuinely pleased to see us; she was probably wondering if we were already drunk - we were not, we were just very excited. After a quick chat we were offered drinks and given menus. We just sat and took in the scenery for a couple of minutes before deciding on cocktails.
Big Apple: Smirnoff Apple vodka shaken with apple, lemon juice and caramel syrup.
Rum Old Fashioned: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum, sugar syrup, Angostura bitters garnished with an orange zest.
Lee and I have a standard MO for cocktail purchase. I tend to go for something very sweet and fruity, whilst she will opt for the one with all the alcohol in it. Seriously, the Big Apple has to be one of the best cocktails I have ever drunk in my entire life. It was sweet but tangy, and very refreshing. They should serve it in pints. The Old Fashioned was reassuringly strong with a lovely orange aroma.
Chicken liver parfait, sourdough toasts, mango puree, chilli jam, sea salt: This was Lee's choice. A good ratio of parfait to bread which was snaffled with ease.
Slow braised BBQ ribs, house salad, homemade slaw: I know what you're thinking; 'I can't order ribs because they make a mess'. Yes, they usually do. These were great. The meat just fell off the bone so eating them was a breeze. The accompanying coleslaw was just brilliant.Brooklyn ale battered haddock, triple cooked chips, minted pea puree, homemade tartar, lemon gel: It was a contest between the fish 'n' chips and the sea bream, but Lee had been coveting this dish on a nearby table, so it won hands down. Nothing like a bit of food envy to cement a decision.
NYL Burger - hand formed 8oz beef patty, smoked streaky bacon, brioche bun, baby gem, beef tomato, onion rings, pickle, applewood smoked cheese, triple cooked chips, NYL relish: It's not the prettiest burger I've ever eaten, but it really doesn't matter when it tastes this good. I'm sorry to say that I managed less than half because I got overly involved in those mammoth chips. I was floored.
Ginger crème brûlée, orange sable biscuit, chilli ice cream: This portion was huge! The custard was delicately flavoured with ginger, which was complimented by the sweet orange biscuit. We felt the chilli in the ice cream was a little overpowering, but that may just be our preference.
Lemon tart, raspberry sorbet, golden crumb, raspberry gel, lemon cream, basil coulis: I need to learn how to make basil coulis, for I declared it my new favourite thing ever. I was very fond of this concoction of flavours, but would have preferred it in traditional tart format, as that beautiful filling was lost a little in the smaller pastry shells. That's greed talking.
Disclaimer: Lee and I were invited to sample the new menu at NYL. We were under no obligation to get quite so giddy, and I'm sure they did not foresee us striking up such a wonderful lunchtime friendship with Hannah - that was a happy accident.