High end food + rustic chic décor + blackboard menu + small room + dim lighting = a successful formula. Many of Montreal’s most successful and trendy restaurants follow this precise code – think Garde Manger, Joe Beef, Bremner, Club Chasse et Pêche, L’Orignal and yes, Liverpool House.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the formula. Just because something becomes popular doesn’t mean it should be dissed. I’m not that kind of person. I love Britney Spears.
Liverpool House was one of the few restaurants that began this trend in Montreal. Clearly, it did so successfully. One of the best things about these “rustic chic” places is that they re quite casual but still focused on the haute, and that they welcome a certain “older” crowd. You know wont be annoyed by loud 19-year olds fête-ing their unfortunate halter-top wearing friend’s birthday because of the slightly higher price point. Liverpool House, thank you for existing.
There’s something undeniably charming about walking into a small space where RSVP’s are difficult to come by, being welcomed as if you were entering a friend’s Hamptons’ home, and sitting down at an unpretentious wooden table set with a plaid serviette. The blackboards and framed pictures adorning the walls just add to the atmosphere, and the soft lighting makes the good-looking people this place attract even better looking. Really? Yeeeah, really.
I loved everything that contributed to my experience at Liverpool House. Our waiter was supernice and supercute, knew the (new!) menu well, and timed the services perfectly. My friend and I split the braised lamb cavatelli ($11) to start. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the lamb was soft and very flavourful.
Next, we had the infamous lobster spaghetti with bacon and tomato sauce ($49) and the scallops with braised pork belly, lentils and fried egg ($34). Both were insane. The spaghetti had huge chunks of lobster (way more than you would think) and a slightly smoky flavour from the bacon. It was a huge portion, enough for two actually.
The scallops were some of the best I’ve ever had. Overcooked scallops are an obvious faux-pas, but I also really dislike undercooked scallops. In my opinion, they should be raw (tartar, ceviche) or cooked (pan seared, grilled) – none of that awkward middle ground that results in a warm but raw mess on your plate. Liverpool House’s scallops were incredibly tender and cooked to the perfect point – not the least bit chewy. The pork belly was as delicious as ever, and the egg and spiced lentil puree brought everything together beautifully. Sounds weird, but it was flawless.
We decided to finish our meal with the House’s parfait ($11). Real crème fouettée, caramelized apples and white sponge cake in a jar, topped with caramelized pecans. Sounds unspectacular, but each part of the dessert had a finesse to it. It really was delicious. My dessert fiend friend was floored. (Tongue twister, anyone?)
And finally, let me address one last thing that I’ve heard mentioned too many times. Many say Liverpool House is pretentious and has a too-cool-for-school attitude, but I really don’t think so. I think that those who call it pretentious are the ones who weren’t prepared for the restaurant’s price point (even though it’s totally justified by the quality of its dishes) or those who tend to feel self-conscious in trendy places. Yes, this place is “hot”, but everything about it lives up to the hype. So relax and take pleasure in its unaffected vibe. Don’t overthink things. Just go and enjoy… It’s a foodie must.
Food 9.5/10, Atmosphere (cozybutverylively) 9/10, Pretty people 9/10, Music 9/10, Service 9.5/10.