Sunday, 18 May 2014

Khalisa, Bentham Drive, Liverpool

Despite being around for years, I visited the Khalisa (or the Tulisa as I've been calling it) for the first time recently. It's one of those curry houses you'd only go to if you are local and live in walking distance or just get a takeaway from, but as my mate lives around the corner, we decided to check it out in the name of research. She's been going for years and warned me it's nothing to get excited about, no cosy booths like UNI and no cheap and cheerful yet authentic details like Master Chef and certainly no daft photo opportunities for Instagram. (Incidentally, my pic of the meal I had got 83 likes on Instagram so at least the food is photogenic or maybe it's just the filter).

The restaurant is rather cramped inside, the takeaway customers standing awkwardly amongst the tables but needless to say the staff are friendly. The prices are a bit OTT considering the ambience and the location (residential area with no pubs or cafes close by) so maybe its a captive audience thing and they're playing on that fact. We went straight for popadoms with a generous pickle tray, my only quibble is the onion portion of the pickle tray tasted dried out. For the main event, it was a veggie sambar, a potent hot and sour curry combination not dissimilar to pathia. Packed with spuds and only a few frozen veg, this wasn't bad as far as curries go but at over £8 for a veggie curry, I expected something a bit more special. My friend's veggie bhuna was the same- decent portion but nothing midblowing. In the absence of a coffee machine and nothing much on the dessert menu, it was over the road to the co-op for afters.

The Good- a convenient local Indian you can always get a table in
The bad- the bland ambience doesn't justify the prices.

Khalisa Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

New China Palace, Berry St, Liverpool

What do you do when you're disillusioned with cheap Chinese buffets and want a nice relaxing lunch out without being rushed like some of these Early Bird places do? Go to Chinatown, that's what. After its rise and fall, it seems to be on the up again with lots of new places popping up and my new favourite place there is the New China Palace, the artist formerly known as the Far East, old school Scouse foodies. With a huge menu including dim sums, authentic Chinese dishes and Westernised ones, this one is suitable for both adventurous foodies and the boring chicken and sweetcorn soup brigade alike. To start, I went for the 'boring' option of veggie spring rolls which were incredibly tasty! The hardcore carnivores can have an offal-ly good time here (groan) with kidneys, liver and various appetisers containing tripe.

For the main, I went for Szechuan tofu with EFR. The portion was so big, a doggy bag was necessary. One main here can easily do two. The sauce tasted home made and not a blue dragon jobby like some places. Chillies, pickled veg and silky tofu made an amazing combination!

I was too full for dessert, but the dessert menu didn't seem to be too exciting. There didn't seem to be a dessert menu for that matter as most of the diners seemed to be ending their feast with just a pot of jasmine tea. I spied mango pudding, but in lieu of a coffee machine in the restaurant I settled for a coffee at CafĂ© Tabac for dessert instead.

Amazing restaurant, friendly staff and the open plan kitchen is a show in itself, definitely worth swerving the bland buffets for.


The good- generous portion size and relaxed ambience
The bad- lack of coffee and dessert

China Palace on Urbanspoon

Salvatore's, Lord St, Southport

Don't you hate it when you do your best to support local businesses (like me on here constantly shouting my mouth off that chains are bad) and get let down by a mix of shoddy cooking and overpriced tourist trap rubbish? This review is going to be a hypocritical one as I had a horrific meal last week in an independent and a fabulous one in a chain (post to follow later). As Spring has finally sprung, me and my mate decided to have a cheesy British seaside day out in Southport. After cheating death on the journey there (that fear you have when the train passes through Bootle and there's a salivating pitbull on the platform, hoping it won't get in your carriage) to navigating the area between the train station and the main drag nearly getting run over by inebriated pensioners on Benidorm scooters not to mention nearly getting defecated on by killer seagulls, we found what looked like a good old traditional Italian called Salvatore's. A fan of a bit of kitsch and 1970s nostalgia, we thought we'd get a decent, traditional and cheap bit of lunch here. The only thing I'd be eating would be my words. Oh dear...

The ambience was a bizarre cross between your typical 1970s Italian and a shabby bar in Benidorm, the cheesy soundtrack of Gypsy Kings in the background accompanied by an orchestra of phlegmy coughs from the clientele. Not one of the customers sounded local- was this going to be a rip off tourist trap? I looked at the menu and my fears were confirmed. Our host, Salvatore was a cheerful, Steve Coogan lookalikey kind of chap so no offence to him, he was the bright light in this dingy cesspit. I had to search long and hard for anything remotely Italian on the menu or veggie for that matter. Someone behind me was eating something burnt involving frozen veg out of Heron Foods or somewhere, the poor folk opposite me weren't eating Italian either. To start, we ordered garlic bread which looked like something I made in school cookery when I was 14- a few rough hunks of bread with a bit of garlic butter on. A poor imitation of one you get for 49p from Belle Vale, except this was near £3. For mains, I ordered Penne Arrabiata and I don't know what it was, but it wasn't Arrabiata. First of all, it was mild and creamy, it lacked its chili kick. Secondly, it was full of mushrooms. I didn't ask for funghi did I? The tinned tomatoes in its sauce were evident. This was the most disgusting pasta I have ever eaten and believe me, I've eaten at some dodgy places in my time. To add insult to injury, it was a tenner! £10 for what? A concoction that looked like a student had made it using whatever was left in the cupboard? Disgusting. A real shame, as this place is crying out with potential and the owner is obviously enthusiastic and a nice guy who's good with people. Sadly, as I left I saw so many more inviting restaurants with 2 for a tenner deals along the road. Suppose I should have just stuck to the chippy.


The good: Ermmmm let's think. The music was rather nice!
The bad: The food, the price and the dust in the place.