The Pepper Vine
Warbreck Moor, Liverpool
Review by Mark Langshaw
Most non-Aintree residents are unlikely to pay a social visit to Warbreck Moor unless they’re heading to the races, but the odds of that changing have shot up thanks to its new culinary addition.
The Pepper Vine is a bar and restaurant which serves up authentic Indian fusion food a few doors down from Liverpool’s famous equestrian venue.
The site was formerly a Chinese restaurant, but all evidence of its previous occupant was swept away during the refurb, replaced by colourful Indian decor, overhead lanterns and other South Asian furnishings.
No expense was spared in the conversion, but The Pepper Vine is all about rustic authenticity and casual vibes. Don’t let its proximity to the racecourse fool you – leave the glad rags in the wardrobe.
There was a laid-back atmosphere as my date and I entered the premises, enhanced by traditional Indian music in the background and chatter from the busy dining area.
The quality of service here immediately stands out. This is a family-run establishment where diners are treated to the kind of personalised experience you won’t find at a chain restaurant.
The owners were hands-on, making a point of visiting each table to engage with their customers and make sure they were satisfied with their meals.
We were taken aback by the amount of choice on the menu. Curry classics were well represented, from biryanis to masalas, competing with countless other dishes from North and South India, as well as fusion food and Indo-Chinese concoctions.
I started with the Chicken Lollipop (£5.65) – marinated deep fried wings served with salad and spring onion – while my dining partner opted for the Malai Chicken Tikka (£4.45).
My selection had all the hallmarks of good comfort food. The chicken wings were hearty and moreish, with the right amount of tangy glazing and greenery on the side.
The meat was somewhat fatty in parts, but the less-than-prime spots were minimal and didn’t detract from a satisfactory starter, which I washed down with a pint of Peroni (£3.95).
My date’s first course – which she enjoyed with a blackcurrant and soda (£2.85), having drawn the dreaded designated driver straw, consisted of leaner cuts of chicken coated in a cheese sauce.
It appeared to hit the spot, and from the couple of mouthfuls I stole, it was easy to see why. The succulent chicken was full of dense flavours thanks to the creamy sauce and subtle hints of ginger, garlic and other herbs.
Onto the mains and I went Indo-Chinese and plumped for Chilli Chicken (£6.95) – marinated cubes of meat served with chilli flakes and vegetables in a hot sauce.
Set upon a bed of pilau rice, the dish struck a balance between tang and spice. The meat was reasonably tender and the vegetables fresh and crunchy, while the sauce brought a welcome kick.
My date chose an Indian classic – Chicken Jalfrezi (£5.95), which was served with mixed bell peppers, tomato and coriander.
Although regretting her choice to select medium over hot, my dining partner was adamant that her curry stacked up against the other jalfrezis she’s sampled at Indians across the city.
Everything we tried at The Pepper Vine was roughly equivalent in quality to the fare you’d find at a high-end Indian takeaway, and I mean that in a good way. It’s the kind of wholesome comfort food you’d happily demolish in huge quantities on a Friday night after a hard week at work.
For the personalised service alone it’s worth the trip to Aintree. Just make sure you book in advance if the races happen to be in town.