Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool, L3 4AD
By Matthew Smith | Tapas | £££ | Albert Dock, L3 4AD | 0151 317 7199
Despite the chilly climate down at Albert Dock, my friend and I were warmly greeted when we paid a visit to Lunyalita recently.
We were shown to a table by the window, offering a perfect view of the iconic dock, where we were surrounded by rustic decor with exposed brickwork that subtly pays homage to both Liverpool waterfront’s heritage and the nation from where the eatery draws its culinary inspiration.
Equipped with a drinks menu, the manager kicked off our evening by helpfully advising us on her favourite tipples. With neither of us particularly being alcohol drinkers, we opted for two glasses of Diet Coke (£2.50 each) and a bottle of Solan de Cabras still water (£2.95) for the table.
A helping of homemade sourdough bread served with a choice of exquisite extra virgin olive oils and vinegars from Spain (£3.95) got the meal underway.
As delicious as the bread was, it didn’t really stand apart from other restaurants in the city but three accompanying oils and vinegars added a different kind of flavour to this common table snack. I recommend sampling the garlic oil.
As is often standard with a tapas menu, our server then advised us to order three or four dishes each for the main feast.
The size of the menu was a little overwhelming but eventually I decided on my three dishes.
First came the crispy chicken (£7.55), which consisted of the restaurant’s signature chicken strips coated in broken tortilla chips with a special seasoning and Catalan dip. This was a particular highlight of the meal as the succulent chicken strips complimented the delicious and spicy Catalan dip – I simply couldn’t get enough of the latter.
Secondly the piquillo pepper hummus (£5.45), which was served with breadsticks and flat bread, was a light addition to the variety of rich plates we ordered.
Succumbing to my appetite and the delicious hummus, I forgot I had agreed to share this dish with my friend.
Thirdly I plumped for huevos rotos (£7.25); essentially a bowl of homemade chips, topped with a fried egg and fried chorizo. As much as I enjoy the humble chip, I did prefer the lighter dish.
Meanwhile my friend ordered pincho moruno (£7.95) – spiced kebabs of chicken, fillet steak, onions and peppers, grilled on the plancha and served with a smoked paprika infused mayonnaise. This was the only dish we were perhaps slightly underwhelmed by as it didn’t seem to add anything memorable to the meal.
On the other hand, the arrival of patatas bravas (£5.65) certainly made up for the kebabs. Served with a delicate, spicy tomato sauce and allioli, the serving was a welcome addition to the table.
“The food was delivered with originality, creativity and self-confidence.”
The final dish to arrive was albondigas (£6.55), which consisted of pork and beef meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. Rich, warm and without pretension, it was the perfect food to combat the evening’s cooler climate.
To conclude, after agreeing we couldn’t eat any more food, we were convinced to order a dessert.
Much to my surprise, the selection of sweet options was almost as extensive as the main menu.
I chose the elegant chocolate sundae (£6.75), which arrived at the table almost instantly. Filled with Cheshire Farm chocolate and vanilla ice cream, chocolate drops, mini-marshmallows, chocolate sauce and cream, it was everything one requires in a dessert of this kind.
My friend went for the slightly less decadent white chocolate cheesecake (£6.75) – a simple and luscious-looking creation garnished with chilli infused raspberries.
Nothing here was a reimagining or vague attempt at deconstructing the authentic flavours one would get in a traditional tapas bar in Spain. The food was delivered with originality, creativity and self-confidence.
Whilst I cannot say definitively that Lunyalita is the best restaurant of its kind in the city, I can say with absolute certainty that my friend and I will be returning very soon to sample more of the menu.