Saturday, 22 December 2012
Downtown (formerly Top Chef) Berry St, Liverpool
I'm currently having a break from Dubai desert life and am holidaying in my home town of Liverpool, a city famous for the Beatles, football and more importantly, home to numerous foodie hidden gems! Since I have left the city, old favourites have fallen victim of the recession, such as Buca di Bacco, some have hiked their prices and reduced their food quality like Zorba's but on a positive note, some delightful new eateries have opened, offering competitive prices, huge portions and eclectic menus. Step forward Top Chef.
Now, I've always been dubious about restaurants that have a self-important name like Number One and Best Kebab, but Top Chef is more than deserving of the title. Suffering from Dubai withdrawal symptoms, I ventured into Top Chef as its menu was packed to the brim with Arabic favourites like falafel and halloumi. Normally, I default to Kimos when craving Levantine cuisine, but after a recent disappointing visit (not to mention overpriced), I am currently 'on a break' with them to quote a line from Friends. Top Chef has a practically identical menu to Kimos, albeit cheaper with bigger portions and the added bonus of beer on the drinks menu. 'Kimos with booze', one of my Twitter pals affectionately called it. Despite its Mediterranean offerings, Top Chef is located on the fringes of Chinatown at the Bold St corner of Berry St, the crossroads of Liverpool foodie heaven in my humble opinion.
I ordered the falafel pitta (above) which was approx £4- sme price as Kimos but as you can see, this came with chips and a well dressed salad garnish. The falafels were amazing, as good as, if not better than any I have tried in Dubai. These fist sized balls of chickpea pleasure were fried but not greasy and served with a choice of houmous or tahini. Arabic fast food heaven. The Carnivore had a chicken kebab, another popular Dubai staple and this scored highly too. The chicken was fresh and not that nasty processed variety you encounter in the likes of Chicken Bazooka, served with a shovel-load of chips, salad, rice and pitta. Who needs Dubai when you have Top Chef? The meals were washed down with a couple of deliciously potent coffees at £1.30.
If Arabic grub isn't your thing, fear not as they also have a selection of pizzas, fry ups and paninis to fill your belly. Step aside Kimos, make way for Top Chef, Liverpool's new king of kebab.
UPDATE- Top Chef has now been renamed Downtown and have changed their focus to have more chippy-style dishes. The Arabic food is still there and is just as good, my only complaint is that in the toilets, the soap dispenser is filled with washing up liquid. Classy.