Desmond Hogan takes a culinary journey to this restaurant’s fourth site
Like the famous trade route that gave the restaurant its name, Silk Rds’ aim is to engage us on a culinary journey spanning East Asia, East Africa and Southern Europe. That promise is somewhat delivered, but it feels more like a fleeting weekend break than it does a longer vacation.
The aioli saved it in the end (as garlic mayo saves everything)
Liverpool continues to be the place to visit if you want adventurous and exciting food, as Silk Rd opened its fourth site this year. The restaurant sits nicely in the shadow of the Philharmonic Hall on Hope Street and feels like a welcome addition to the area, as it boasts something completely different, with tapas and mezze style food, to cater for the many pre-theatre-diners.
The rain had cleared when we arrived, and the sun was shining, so were after something light and refreshing to drink. The staff greeted us warmly and happily let us take our pick from the many free tables. The interior is vibrant with lots of natural light, and relaxing thanks to comfortable furniture. I was concerned that a restaurant with such an ambitious menu would mirror a mix match décor, but their focus is on the food, which felt like a promising start.
We nestled into a secluded booth with the drinks menu. It boasts a modest selection of gins and classic cocktails, but our eyes went straight to Sparkling Sangria (£18) - Prosecco, fresh apple juice, Liquor 43 and citrus fruits. Our waitress told us we’d made a good choice, which turned out to be fact, rather than just friendly small talk. It was dangerously more-ish, but we sipped it slowly - after all, we had a long journey ahead of us.
The first dish was Tablita (£8), a Spanish platter of Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, mixed olives and fresh bread served with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It was expensive for the portion size but the fresh charred bread made a perfect bed for the silky Manchego. It was a solid start to the meal, even if the olives were a bit naff.
Iberian ham croquetas (£6) were served with aioli dusted with smoked paprika. Though they melted in the mouth and oozed with cheese they were ultimately underwhelming. The aioli saved it in the end (as garlic mayo saves everything), and the smoked paprika gave more depth of flavour.
Chicken Satay (£5) was the quickest dish to come and go. Marinated chicken skewers served with a silky peanut sauce. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and the texture of the crunchy peanut sauce made the entire dish sing. Can’t go wrong with that.
Chana Masala (£5.50) was, again, slightly underwhelming. The classic chickpea and sweet potato curry, originally from Pakistan, here felt under seasoned and unengaging. This was maybe my least favourite stop on Silk Rd’s culinary journey.
Another glass of Sangria was needed to prepare us for the last leg of our journey - with three more dishes to come. That’s what we told ourselves, anyway. I had a look around and was surprised to see how quickly the restaurant had filled up. I hadn’t even noticed because the private booths block out all the noise of the world around you. Even though the staff seemed to shift their gears into ‘right, it’s Friday night and it’s getting busy’ mode, they were consistently friendly all night.
The Yaour Tlou (£8) savoury beef kebabs, topped with Greek yoghurt and a spiced tomato sauce dusted with smoked paprika, were essentially meatballs, but beautifully cooked and held their form with the aid of some flatbread and fresh vegetables.
Persian Lamb (£8) was cooked exactly as I like without me even having to mention it, and staff even double-checked to make sure. The meat was coated in rosemary, garlic, sea salt and black pepper and served with couscous and mint yoghurt, which acted as a palate cleanser.
The penultimate stop of the journey took us to the ocean. Sea bass (£7) was crisp and fresh but was elevated with the accompaniment of red curry rice - smooth and creamy, acting in perfect contrast with the crunch of the fish. A really great dish.
The dessert menu was confusing, in the sense that it didn’t seem to fit the restaurant concept. I expected to experience an eclectic list of desserts but was instead greeted with the likes of Sticky Toffee Pudding and Eton Mess. We decided on Strawberry Cheesecake (£5.50) and coffee. The cheesecake was actually really great. It just felt a bit out of place.
Silk Road delivers on its aim to take us on a sprawling food journey, but some of the stops feel much more memorable than others.
Silk Rd, 88 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BQ
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Tablita 6, Croquetas 6, Chicken Satay 8, Chana Masala 5, Yaour Tlou 7, Persian Lamb 8, Sea Bass 9, Cheesecake 7
Little to find fault with
Relaxing and not too showy