Food and Drink Festival, continued

Liverpool Food and Drink Festival launch day

After coming home full of appreciation for another delicious (and sunny) food festival launch day, we decided we wanted to try a new restaurant on Monday and take advantage of the 50% off promotions available. Having enjoyed a meal at The Monro on Duke Street awhile back, we decided to try its sister restaurant, The James Monro, on Tithebarn Street. Its offer was, and I quote, ‘half price off rump steaks’ (click on the link then The James Monro to see its Monday offer). I mentioned this offer to the man taking my reservation, who was extremely friendly and professional, confirming that was the offer. Sadly our experience didn’t live up to our anticipation.

The James Monro has been decorated in a neoclassical style befitting its early 19th century namesakes (both a ship running the first regular passenger service between Liverpool and New York and the fifth President of the United States). We arrived a few minutes early and had our choice of seats; unfortunately, we picked the Invisible Table ™. You know, the table which has the only unlit candle, unnoticed by waitstaff out of at least twenty candles burning throughout the restaurant (I eventually lit it myself because I like playing with matches). The table that has no cutlery even after the starter arrives (we ate the salad leaves accompanying our garlic bread with our fingers because we’re classy like that and hate waste). The table which just seems to be overlooked by waitstaff serving every other table around it. So our restaurant karma was a little off from the beginning.

The James Monro’s website mentioned a new menu available from September; I can only surmise they’re still getting the hang of it. There were several typos (it took us a little while to figure out what a ‘wind mushroom’ was) and some incongruities with dishes available on the early bird menu vs the a la carte menu and vice versa. The goat’s cheese and courgette parcel with asparagus and yoghurt and mint dressing I ordered wasn’t available, I was later informed. And when my husband went to order his steak, he was told that yes, it was available as part of a 2-for-1 offer.

The waiter noticed that we were just *slightly* taken aback, because 2-for-1 was not quite the same thing as half price. If it was, we wouldn’t have come, because I don’t eat steak. Husband asked for a few minutes to revise his order and the waiter retreated to the kitchen. He returned a few minutes later to say that they would be willing to do husband’s steak at half price. All credit to him for resolving the issue, but we shouldn’t have had to make a fuss to get what was stated both online and by the member of staff who took our booking.

Faff aside, our food was quite good. I settled on fish and chips since the main I originally wanted wasn’t available. Husband’s steak was cooked exactly as he ordered, the peppercorn sauce looked appealing and the chips were proper big, handcut chips, cooked almost to perfection. My fish was flaky and moist, the batter dark and crispy. My chips were equally tasty.

We don’t like being the couple that have to make a point to get the level of service that other tables are shown as a matter of course; I had to ask for a wine list, whereas others just got them alongside their menus. It left a slightly bitter taste, metaphorically. While the food was nearly the equal to The Monro’s, I’m not sure I’ll be heading back to the James Monro. The business district definitely needs more quality restauarants if it wants to be be more of a destination after 5pm, so I wish them the best and hope they can live up to the potential that’s there.

Next up: a welcome newcomer on Hope Street, just in time for Sunday’s Feast…

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