Monday, 19 July 2010

Tabac, Liverpool

A great selection of veggie delights!

Tabac has been a Liverpool icon and hangout of hipsters since the 1970s. With its cool, retro feel and interesting artwork, Tabac is the perfect place to relax with a coffee and a paper, meet friends before a big night out and to chill to some retro beats. But what I wanted to know is; is the food any good? More importantly, are the prices also retro? I took my hungry dad along to investigate further.

People who know me know I detest pretentious places. When I see 'trendy', I read 'overpriced and small undercooked portions'. Not naming any names, a lot of the new Liverpudlian bars fall in this category. Tabac, however, is more of a trusted classic. Cool yet unpretentious, chilled and classy. You won't find any WAG types in here but a comfortable mix of students, professionals, young and old. The odd luvvie type is known to stray in though, and it does attract boho babes. I visited on a Sunday and it was rather empty, a menu outside listing various dishes from around the world, plus a world cup special of beer and a burger for a fiver. So far, the prices seemed great, considering it is slap bang in the city centre.
Veggies, you will be in heaven. They offer a selection of soups and sandwiches including feta cheese and brie, the soup on this particular day being carrot and coriander. I decided to go for the tapas option, £4 each, 2 for £7.50 or 3 for a tenner; we made it 5 for £17.50. After much deliberation, I settled on halloumi kebabs, a feta cheese bake and that holiday favourite, patatas bravas. Strict veggies look away complete the tapas, my dad chose mussels and huge Albondigas.

The tapas hit the spot! I would say they were better quality than fake Luton based Spaniards La Tasca. These tasted home made. The halloumi kebabs may be Cypriot, but variety is the spice of life; after all, there aren't many traditional veggie tapas in Spain. Juicy cheese with cherry tomatoes on a bed of rocket was heaven. The feta cheese bake was a type of fondue; a melting pot of tomato casserole and feta hunks served with a right doorstopper of bread to dunk in. Finally, the Bravas. Oh my God, these were heaven! Never had I had such piquant sauce meeting perfectly roasted potatoes since I went to Almeria in 1998. Madrid, Barcelona and the Balearics failed to provide me with such tasty bravas, little did I know the perfect Bravas were on my doorstep in Liverpool!The sauce was exquisitely spicy, the potatoes lightly roasted with a dash of rosemary. Portion size was impressive too.

To finish, I opted for an Americano which passed my rigorous coffee quality control. Potent beans! The tapas were surprisingly filling, I had to pass on the beautifully squidgy fudge cake but there's always a next time.

TIP: if you're just coming for drinks, lounge about in the 'hidden' area at the back with the cushions. Dim lighting, comfy furniture and 60s sounds make for a perfect chillout. If you're eating, grab a front table and peoplewatch and believe me, Bold St is a paradise for peoplewatching enthusiasts!

I thoroughly enjoyed my Mediterranean experience in 1970s Liverpool, but if I were to do it again, I would alternate one of the cheese dishes for one of the other options; maybe pittas with tzatziki and hummus. It was foolish of me to have such a cheese overload; after all, it ain't easy being cheesy!

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