Pioneer Bar and Brasserie
Review by Mark Langshaw
From the iron army camped on its shoreline to the nostalgic charm of its community-run cinema, I didn’t need another excuse to visit Crosby but found one nonetheless at Pioneer Bar and Brasserie.
Located a short drive from one of the region’s most popular beaches, this family-run restaurant blends style and heritage, with the modern decor of its dapper dining room and bar area offset against rustic furnishings which evoke the venue’s history as a laundry house.
The eatery exudes class yet remains inclusive thanks to its laidback vibe and relaxed daytime dress code. I felt comfortable in jeans and trainers as our friendly hostess led the way to our table.
A quick perusal of the menu and we were taken aback by the range on offer at Pioneer, with dishes from Britain, Europe and further afield making up its lunchtime and small plates offering.
We were dumbfounded by the sheer amount of choice before us but our attentive waitress helped out with some solid cocktail recommendations.
I started with an After Eight – an indulgent mix of Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, peppermint, milk and cream named after the popular after-dinner chocolate – while my dining partner opted for the rose petal-infused Lychee Rose Martini (both £6.95).
Both drinks proved a hit and convinced us that Pioneer lives up to its billing as a cocktail specialist – mine was essentially an alcoholic mint milkshake, sweet and moorish in equal measure, while my date’s concoction was a refreshing blast of sweet and sour.
Basking under the warmth of a ceiling-mounted heater, we next ordered some small plates to share, choosing the Pioneer Nachos (£6.45) and Duck Spring Rolls (£4.50) as a precursor to the main event.
Nothing could have prepared us for the stomach-pounding portion of nachos that turned up – this was a monstrous mound of layered corn chips with all the trimmings, from salsa and sour cream to scorching jalapeños and guacamole, covered with a generous helping of cheese.
It was a dish with hangover-curing potential, rich enough in flavour to invite gluttony. As much as we wanted to dive in face first, a few mouthfuls was enough to tell us our mains would be going to waste unless restraint was exercised.
The spring rolls, on the other hand, were light on the stomach and beautifully presented. Infused with spices and served with tangy Chinese dipping sauce, this Asian appetiser was delightfully crispy and bursting with Eastern promise.
Battling the temptation to keep picking at those nachos, we ordered our mains – Smoked Salmon Royale (£8.45) for me and home favourite Fish ‘n’ Chips (£8.95) for my dining partner.
My plateload of seafood was accompanied by spinach, samphire and penne pasta, enhanced by a Pernod and cream cheese velouté, and topped with a poached egg.
Cooked to perfection and sure to strike a chord with clean living enthusiasts, this protein-rich combo was a hearty superfood feast, all of its ingredients working in harmony with one another.
Served with hand-cut chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce and a wedge of lemon, my date’s beer battered cod was every inch the English classic you know and love, the fish soft and crispy in all the right places and the fries pleasingly golden.
Pioneer’s kitchen staff proved their versatility by scoring top marks on dishes from England, Italy, China and North America and it was a similar success story on the cocktail front.
To Crosby locals it’s a jewel in the town’s crown, but to visitors Pioneer is a hidden gem waiting to be unearthed, ideal for a slap-up meal any time of the day or a cocktail-fuelled evening out.