The Brunch Club
37-41 Duke Street, Liverpool, L1 5AP
By Natasha Young | Small plates & cocktails | £££ | Duke Street, L1 5AP | 0151 792 6522
For some time Duke Street has been emerging as another of Liverpool’s food and drink hotspots.
The likes of Filter + Fox and Down the Hatch have been sitting amongst apart-hotels and office buildings, serving up the independent originality that Bold Street and Castle Street have become accustomed to.
One eatery which has had the size to make a big impact though but, in my experience, hasn’t always had the style or efficient service to truly lift the location is The Brunch Club. Until now, that is.
With its dominating presence, the venue’s announcement that all but its name had been spruced up and reinvented by the team behind the creative attraction Ghetto Golf was intriguing.
And with the looming arrival of Graffiti Spirits Group’s Duke Street Food and Drink Market, which is already on the map after snapping up a new restaurant for the city via TV’s ‘My Million Pound Menu’, what better time for The Brunch Club to take another swing at success?
First impressions were great when my partner and I popped in for post-work food and drinks.
“The concept here was refreshingly simple.”
Immediately greeted at the ‘please wait to be seated’ sign, we were shown to our chosen table near the window by an attentive server.
After taking in the bar and restaurant’s nature-themed decor, which fills the venue with lovely greenery, we quickly turned our attentions to choosing food and drinks.
Small plates were the focus and, whilst at times the task of picking a few options from a lengthy selection can be overwhelming, the concept here was refreshingly simple.
A range of dishes was already packaged into two set menus to be presented on ornate ‘dipping trees’. There was ‘The Veggie Tree’ (£22) or ‘The Meat Tree’ (£25), although we were told we could mix up the dishes a little if we wished.
My dinner date and I were happy to keep things easy and relaxed, much like the vibe in the new incarnation of The Brunch Club, and opted for ‘The Meat Tree’ as it was intended on the menu.
As my partner picked a pint of Punk IPA (£4.50) for his liquid accompaniment, I was keen to delve into the cocktail selection – a key feature of the reimagined bar.
Slightly trickier to choose from than the food offering, the menu offered mouth-watering classics and house concoctions and I eventually settled on a French Martini (£8) – Absolut vanilla vodka, wild strawberry liqueur, pineapple juice and blackcurrant.
The Brunch Club’s own twist on the classic, doing away with the typical Chambord ingredient, was presented in an elegant glass and topped with a colourful bird print and floral garnish.
Vanilla vodka, combined with sweet fruity additions, gave the cocktail a nice creamy, dessert-like flavour which was very enjoyable to drink.
Our tree of food promptly arrived, and branches of meat and seafood treats intertwined with others holding their pairing sauces.
Duck rolls with plum hoisin, chicken goujons and buffalo sauce, lamb koftas with mint yoghurt tzatziki, fiery shrimp with lemon aioli, jamón croquettes and dijonnaise, and salt & pepper calamari with chilli lime mayonnaise filled our petit table for two.
It was a delicious range of dishes. Everything was perfectly cooked without tasting too greasy or heavy, and the coatings on the calamari, shrimp and chicken were crispy and golden.
Particular highlights came from the buffalo sauce, which my partner and I agreed was a fiery revelation. Providing the chicken with a hit of heat, the sauce – possibly the best version I’ve tried – was also well balanced with flavour.
The smoky jamón croquettes with dijonnaise were a favourite of mine too, and a well-dipped bite transported me right back to Amsterdam where I’d tasted the similar local snack bitterballen.
So efficient was the table service that, as we made our way through the adequately sized Meat Tree, our glasses were never empty.
I’d moved on to a Kiwi Kooler (£7.50) – Porters tropical gin, lime juice, kiwi puree topped and soda – which was as refreshing as it sounds and, again, spectacularly presented with a nod to nature as a peacock feather stood tall above the rim of the glass.
My partner, meanwhile, tried a clean-tasting Einstöck arctic pale ale from Iceland (£5).
Desserts appeared absent from the menu, but it was no great loss as the cocktail range could keep any sweet tooth satisfied and offered plenty of indulgence.
We rounded off our visit by sharing one more mixture which came highly recommended from the bar, with plans said to be afoot to enter the drink into a competition.
The Oro Verde (£8) combined Olmeca blanco tequila, kings ginger liqueur, rhubarb liqueur, cactus juice, lime, egg white, basil and sugar syrup.
A standout tipple of the evening which, once again, looked almost too good to drink and tasted even better, it was no surprise its makers are so proud.
Thick, green, fruity and fresh, it could almost be convincing as some sort of health smoothie if it weren’t so laced with booze!
We left feeling as though we’d barely scratched the surface of The Brunch Club’s creative cocktail menu, but that alone was enough to have us already thinking about a return.