Liverpool was the gateway to the new world and new lives for many people from all across Europe (there is even a Liverpool village in New York state!) so it should be fitting that a bar and restaurant in Liverpool (the UK one that is!) celebrates the food and culture of New York in a building that is befitting.
NYL Restaurant and Bar is located in an architecturally stunning ex-head office of the Royal Insurance Company within the UNESCO-designated historic centre of Liverpool. Constructed between 1896 and 1903, the grade II listed building has an interior that reflects the old banking hall-style, large with a high ceiling making this an airy restaurant and bar.
On arrival we were greeted quickly and settled down to check out the menus. Mrs Foodie chose her favourite, an Aviation Cocktail at £9, which with a nod to New York (where it was created) looked the part in the surroundings. Some more violette would have made it amazing, but it was still a competent Aviation.
Mr Foodie spied a hefty 750ml bottle of Estrella Damm Inedit (4.8%) at £9.90. As this beer was crafted by Ferran Adrià of ElBulli fame we expected it to taste nothing like beer but sadly it did(?!) though it was a rather nice Spanish attempt at a witbier - slightly cloudy with a good foamy head, it was light, smooth, sweet and lively with a mild yeast aroma and actually not too dissimilar from lager. With being such a huge bottle it's also ideal for sharing between 2 but Mr Foodie had it all to himself!
And so onto the food (we visited on a Sunday)...
Cream of spring vegetable soup £6: Well-presented with a cute mini tin loaf with homemade pickled onion butter (interesting mix of creamy and sour) came with the soup, which was creamy with a good peppery kick and a slight nuttiness too.
Cold poached salmon £6: A mix of dill, paprika, cured cucumber, pickled pink onions and a chive mousse. The Salmon had a strong dill aroma which was perfect and the whole red peppercorns added some kick to the pickled pink onions.
28 day dry aged sirloin of beef £17: As it was a Sunday the roast stood out and this was a pleasantly meaty cut of beef. It also came with an excellent yorkshire pudding - not too crisp and not too stodgy. The horseradish compote could have been stronger but still worked well with the beef. The vegetables were all cooked crisp with the exception of the overcooked mushy roast potatoes.
Brooklyn ale braised lamb shank £16: Minted potato purée with curried lentils and a Rosemary jus. It looked the part and the rosemary wasn't overpowering but you could certainly smell and taste it. Also served with crunchy green beans on a bed of buttery creamy mash and melt-in-the-mouth mildly curried lentils.
Cheesecake of the week £6: We expected a New York-style baked cheesecake but instead got something that looked more like a couple of Oreos with a cream-cheese filling! A bit different and perfectly fine. They came with seasonal fruit (fresh strawberries and a blueberry compote) & Chantilly cream.
Ginger creme brûlée £6: Another one that was artfuly presented with orange sable biscuit, and chilli ice cream served in teacup which was a nice idea but resulted in a runny creme brûlée as the portion was too big. The brûlée had a strong ginger taste and ice-cream which tasted like vanilla (sadly couldn't taste any chilli). The biscuit was soft, buttery and would be perfect with a cuppa.
The 3 courses were £22 each plus the cost of drinks so add on another £9 for the cocktail and £9.90 for the beer bringing it to £62.90 in total.
The food was very competent though not amazing but a few tweaks are probably all that's required to make this an essential eating spot in the commercial quarter of Liverpool. From a bar point of view there was a good selection of drinks to satisy most people on a night out. Surroundings were lovely and lunch was accompanied by the music of Victoria on piano who handed out her repertoire sheet (I'm pretty sure New York by Alicia Keys was listed too!) and took requests, either in person or by SMS txt message , this made for a pleasant relaxing lunch. Service was prompt, friendly & helpful and importantly both male and female toilets were clean & tidy.
Find out more at nyliverpool.com
+ Food is well-presented and looks the part
+ Impressive surroundings
+ Attentive helpful service
+ Live pianist who takes requests
+ Toilets were clean
- Some tweaks needed to make the food "wow"