Continuing the theme of my recent blog posts for MissPond, Dan and I got to have a very indulgent date night in Liverpool. We were asked to come along to review the menu at the Marco Pierre White restaurant, Wheelers of St James’ and spend the night at the Pullman Hotel (but more about that later this week).
Wheelers of St James’ in Liverpool is an extension of the the original Wheelers in London. Opened in 1856 it is often credited with being “the world’s oldest and finest fish brand”. The menu has been given an update and now includes meaty and vegetarian fayre meaning everyone can dine at this lovely spot. We popped along on a Sunday evening and took the menu for a spin in truly decadent date night fashion.
Whilst we cast an eye over the menu we decided to whet our whistle with a glass of champagne and half a dozen of the Colchester Oysters. I’m a huge fan of oysters and still carry a scar from poorly shucking my own a few years ago! Dan hadn’t tried oysters in a few years, so I was secretly hoping he’d hate them and I would get them all to myself. Alas, these beautifully fresh ozone rich morsels proved a resounding success with both of us – especially when dressed with the shallot vinaigrette.
We decided to take advantage of one of the cool features at Wheelers – the Vinoteca. This brilliant machine keeps bottles of wine in perfect condition once they’ve been opened, and wheelers have smartly put some of their more premium wines on offer this way. I loved that we had the freedom to try small glasses of different wines, that we perhaps wouldn’t want to buy a whole bottle of. This was an especially great idea when we wanted to have white wine with our starters and red wine with our main course. All of the wines we drank with our meal were available from the Vinoteca when we visited.
There were so many wonderful sounding dishes on the starters menu, that I’m sure anyone would be pleased. After a little deliberation (and memories of Nice) I opted for the Escargots a la Bourguignonne and Dan went with the Caramelised Foie Gras. I have to say that I was momentarily disappointed when my escargots were brought to the table. They weren’t served in the shell, and for me half of the dishes appeal is the very striking visual. However, what I missed in visual wow factor was more than compensated for in taste. The escargot were tender and perfectly cooked whilst bathing in a rich garlic butter topped off with a parsley and thyme breadcrumb. Liverpool instantly became France in my mind, if only for a few delicious moments. Dan gave the escargot a try too, and loved them. Both of us would order them again.
I have to admit strong pangs of jealousy over Dans Foie Gras, thankfully he let me try quite a lot of it. The only way I can ever describe foie gras is like the richest meatiest butter imaginable. This was seared and caramelised, and served on brioche with a fried duck egg. We both agreed that all of the flavours worked extremely well together, but that if the brioche had been toasted it would have been perfect. We both opted for a glass of the Albarino La Marimorena – a rich fruity Spanish white that dealt with the garlic in the escargot and the richness of the Foie Gras equally well. Albarino is definitely a white wine that I’ve been enjoying more and more recently and will be on the lookout when choosing a white.
Dan and I absolutely love a sharing main course, and we both completely love steak. So the natural choice for us was the Land and Sea sharing plate. This was a roast Scottish Chateaubriand (rare, naturally) and whole native lobster, served with triple cooked chips, vine roasted tomatoes and a béarnaise sauce. I think neither of us were quite prepared for the mountain of food that landed in front of us, but we dove straight in. The beef was fantastic and cooked perfectly rare. It really was an outstanding piece of Chateaubriand that’s got my mouth watering thinking about it. The lobster was equally delicious, sweet, juicy and wonderfully cooked.
The combination of the rich beef and sweet lobster was, well, just wow. Whilst we did taste the chips, which were delicious, we certainly couldn’t get anywhere near finishing them. The only let down for me was the Béarnaise sauce, which tasted fantastic, but was just a little too thick for me. Although this is a seriously minor complaint. We decided to go for a wine which would be a match for the beef rather than the lobster on this occasion. I pretty much can’t eat good steak without red wine these days! We went with the Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – a full bodied oak aged Italian red. On it’s on this would have easily overpowered the lobster, but it went fantastically with the beef and I’d very happily drink this on its own.
We should definitely have said no to dessert at this point, but well I can’t ever really say no to dessert! I have to admit being seriously disappointed when I heard that the Tiramisu was finished. It’s my ultimate go to dessert, but I soldiered on. I went with the Trifle Wally Ladd – a black cherry and sherry trifle. This reminded of the trifles my granny used to make, and put the biggest smile on my face! Dan opted for the Cambridge Burnt Cream – a seriously smooth and delicious crème brulee. Dan did remark that he wished there were some little biscuits served with this for a little crunch. As a final offering from the Vinoteca we went with the Welschriesling Eiswein – a beautiful floral and honeyed dessert wine from Austria. With the exception of Hungarian Tokaji, this has been the nicest dessert wine I’ve tried to date. Just as an aside, all of the desserts are priced at £6.00, which I think is pretty incredible value for money!
After Dinner Drinks
Being in heels, and little walk from the main bar area (and also completely stuffed) we decided to have a couple of after diner drinks in the restaurant bar. Dan had never tried an Espresso Martini! I know – I’m not sure how this is possible either?! We were whipped up two fantastic drinks and I can safely say that Dan is now a fan. These were amongst some of the best I’ve ever had and I’d definitely order them again. Feeling in the mood for one last drink before shuffling upstairs to our room we order a couple of Old Fashioned. In my book a good Old Fashioned is the measure of a good bar, and these were just that.
We had a truly indulgent and wonderful meal at Wheelers. We were made to feel super welcome and we loved the setting too. One last thing we loved was the open kitchen, so if you’re nosey like me you can watch the chefs working their magic whilst waiting for your food!
Would you head to Wheelers of St James’ for an indulgent date night? What would you order? Let me know in the comments,
P.S. Dr C was invited to dine at Wheelers of St James’. As ever all photos, words and opinions are hers.
P.P.S. Wheelers of St James’ is located at The Pullman Hotel, Kings Dock, Liverpool L3 4FP.