H1780 Tap & Still
Bridgewater Street, Liverpool
Review by Lawrence Saunders
I’m not a big fan of real ale and craft beers. In fact, I can’t stand the stuff. Give me a pint of Guinness over a bottle of Bombardier any day.
Consequently I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to check out a new brewery and restaurant when it opened in the Baltic Triangle.
Add in the fact that I was in the midst of a surprisingly successful break from alcohol, and it’s safe to say I was keener to try the food rather than the booze at H1780 Tap & Still.
Despite my gripes I arrived at the Bridgewater Street venue with an open mind, and an open mouth when I saw what Wirral-born proprietor Stephen Crawley had done with the formerly rundown warehouse.
Think trendy New York industrial loft rather than Campaign For Real Ale headquarters – all exposed brickwork, stark black metal staircases and reclaimed wooden benches.
The extensive warehouse has been transformed into a slick multi use space with a brewery, distillery, eatery and three bars – all under the 200-year-old Liverpool brewery name, Higsons.
On the say-so of our helpful server, I kept things simple with a pint of Higsons Pilsner Lager (£4.20) to start.
Although it was head and shoulders above any of your standard fizzy pub fare, I have to admit it still wasn’t enough to win me over to the craft cause.
My partner’s Marshmallow G & T (£5.50) was a more succesful first drink of the evening. Gin fans with a sweet tooth will appreciate this blend, made on-site, which gave off a wonderfully saccharine scent.
Half a pint or so later and it was time for our starters.
My corned beef with toast, radish, caper and parsley salad (£6) was a refined take on a straightforward ingredient which managed to retain plenty of its traditional appeal.
I was, however, somewhat envious of my date’s leek rarebit on toast with farm leaves (£5). Who wouldn’t be tempted by thick, stringy cheese sat atop a wedge of crusty bread on a baltic winter evening?
Before our mains, I thought it best to order another brew. Being a Guinness drinker, the Bru Dubh Stout (£4.50) appealed to me more than the idea of another ale.
The hardy stout was a worthy substitute for my favourite tipple featuring pleasing undertones of chocolate malt.
Time for the main event food-wise and my ale braised ox cheek with white polenta and red cabbage (£13.50) definitely lived up to top billing.
The meat was so tender that my knife was rendered redundant whilst the polenta was a lusciously creamy alternative to bog standard potato mash.
My other half’s burger (£13.50), on the other hand, was unfortunately not as approvingly received.
Served with a generous helping of cheese, the burger itself was said to be great – big, juicy and flavoursome. The chips however, not so clever.
Not only were there too many of the ‘haystack fries’, but more pertinently they didn’t actually taste much like chips. They might have looked interesting but ultimately it was a definite case of style over substance.
My partner’s opinion of H1780’s food was about to shoot up considerably though, thanks to her pistachio ice cream sandwich (£5).
Ice cream made on-site by the chef, sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits, was a truly indulgent dessert and a definite high point of the evening for my date.
Whilst not quite as memorable, my sticky toffee pudding with custard (£6) was still a suitably satisfying end to what had been a meal packed with homely pleasures.
If you want some hearty, reasonably priced food in a unique setting and can find someone who loves ale to go with you, get down to H1780.