The Old Blind School, Liverpool
Owned by the duo behind Manchester’s popular Beef and Pudding, The Old Blind School opened on Liverpool’s Hardman Street earlier this year and warrants just as much praise
Situated in one of the area’s Grade II listed buildings, The Old Blind School (TOBS) blows you away before you even step through the door. Inside, the renovations are classic and sympathetic to a building as grand and old as this one. Plus there’re pictures of dogs in military uniforms on the walls – what more could you want?
We booked a table mid-week via the restaurant’s website and arrive slightly ahead of time. We’re seated at the bar while waiting for our table, and, naturally, are drawn to the cocktails. We order a TOBS Collins – their take on the classic made with gin, rhubarb, lemon and rosé soda – and a Three Graces, with bourbon, salted caramel and hazelnut. Both are delicious.
After around a 20 minute wait we’re shown upstairs to our table – cue more gasps at the stunning staircase. The menu offers standard pub classics with a foodie twist; think colossal burgers and British beef and béarnaise cottage pie, nestled among some more unusual dishes, such as vodka-cured sea bass and duck with Vimto gravy.
A quick glance is enough to get our stomachs rumbling, so we're straight off the block with the deep-fried brie with walnut oil and sour grape chutney. We also order the aforementioned sea bass, served with sweet and sour red peppers and a green olive dressing. The food arrives quickly (we’re tucking in within five minutes of ordering), and despite initial doubts about the brie, there’s enough deep-fried, cheesy goodness on the plate to induce a heart attack. It’s complemented perfectly by the tangy chutney, which also helps it from becoming too sickly. The vodka sea bass goes down a treat, too, complete with an olive dressing that makes a great salty side.
For mains, it’s a tough choice, but the Vimmy Duck – duck breast, black pudding hash cake and Vimto gravy – has been calling since we clapped eyes on the menu over a week before. We also go for the squash and chestnut crumble, with roast beetroot and bashed parsnips baked in a pepper cream sauce. Again, the food arrives quickly, and we dive straight in. My crumble is the kind of hearty comfort food that’s perfect for this time of year. The earthy root vegetables smothered in rich, creamy sauce are like a hug in a bowl and leave you feeling fat but insanely happy. The duck is requested pink, and when it arrives with a thick, glossy gravy, it looks the absolute business. The star of the plate is either the black pudding hash cake or the rich Vimto gravy. Definitely something we would order again.
Painful as it is, we eat so much that there’s no room for desserts. Not ones to miss out though, we’re booked in again for a second round.
If you liked The Old Blind School, try:
Beef and Pudding, Manchester
Marble Arch, Manchester
The Pen Factory, Liverpool