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Stanley's Bar & Grill: Titanic Liverpool, UK

By:
Joanna Hall
 

My recent trip back to the UK was the first in a few years, but when I ventured to the northwest of England, and to Liverpool, it truly was like seeing the city with completely new eyes. My last visit there was in my early teens, a school trip, entirely dominated by one thing: football, and Liverpool Football Club in particular. There is long story behind all that, however, my return on this occasion was also for football, and to see a game at the hallowed ground of Anfield. As the only way I could obtain a ticket was through a package with Thomas Cook Sports, it included a one-night stay at a choice of hotels in the city. Fortunately the hip new Titanic was on the list, not only arguably the city's coolest and most luxurious hotel, but also closest to the ground.

I'll go into more detail about the hotel in an upcoming Luxury Hotel Review, but in brief, it opened last summer in Liverpool as the first part of a major renovation of the historic Stanley Dock district, complete with unique design features, and views across the Mersey Estuary. The hotel is situated inside a Grade II listed warehouse, which dates back to 1855 and was designed to store tobacco and rubber. It's transformation from a derelict shell to a five-star hotel is extraordinary; you get a taste of the decay and recent past from some of the other finger wharves along the water front which are awaiting the same re-assignment and redesign. The overall decor of Titanic embraces the building's former warehouse past, with dominant interior brick and iron features, and evidence of the city's once great maritime history.

One of the many features of this chic new hotel is Stanley's Bar and Grill, a hangar-like dining venue complete with an open kitchen and its own bar, and a Rum Bar which stocks over 60 varieties of rum - great for a pre-dinner cocktail. From my dining experience there, and the impressive line-up of prestige cars outside, it's certainly one of the hot new places to be seen on a Saturday night, particularly popular with couples for a romantic evening.

The location and decor:

Stanley's is tucked away at one end of the cavernous foyer, and it is huge, but that doesn't mean it's without atmosphere. In fact it's quite the opposite. I opted for a late supper as the venue was busy, and even at 9.15pm there were still plenty of people milling about, either leaving with full stomachs, in the process of eating, or arriving for dinner like me. I quickly realised that this was going to be more akin to a dinner theatre, with nicely spaced tables for intimacy, coupled with the open kitchens so you can watch the team preparing your food. Forget any ideas of pretentiousness, however, as I was welcomed with a smile, and enjoyed informal yet efficient service throughout my meal, and found the menus to contain what we often describe as fun or soul food - great after day out watching the football!

Stanley's has an alfresco terrace, but as it was late October and late at night, I was shown to a fabulous table near the windows with a view. Although the decor is very urban and masculine, with all the slate grey flooring, raw brick and iron columns, the warm air, moody lighting and energetic vibe make you feel comfortable and at home immediately. There are a variety of seating arrangements, from long, highly polished dark wooden tables seating 10 on plush fabric chairs, to high backed booths, and tables for two with fabric chairs. Grey is a dominant colour on the palette, along with splashes of apricot, and dark and soft blues picking up hues from the open bricks.

The menu:

If you thought choosing from a menu of 60 different types of rum is a challenge, the menu at Stanley's isn't much easier. It features a range of rustic comfort food with lovely twists, brasserie-style dining with options including Stan's smoked and cured salmon and roast pumpkin soup as an appetiser, and a T-bone steak, a Titanic Angus burger, and Sam Adams battered cod for a main, with sides including creamed spinach, cauliflower cheese and triple cooked chips.

I'd had a long day and it was late, and while I was hungry I decided to try a few smaller dishes rather than go the traditional appetiser and main route. I opted for the crispy fish cakes to start, which came with rocket and lemon mayo, and which turned out to be pretty generous in size cooked to perfection. Next came a crab spaghettini with white crab chilli, olive oil and persilade; I was given a slightly larger portion than the appetiser size I reckon, which was perfect; light, yet subtly flavoured. For a side I had some green beans, which were beautifully blanched, and as my waiter was keen for me to try a few of the triple cooked chips, I agreed to a tiny handful; whatever triple cooking means, these chips were luscious and to die for.

The wine menu is also impressive with lineup of varieties from the globe including France, Chile, Italy and Australia, and a decent number of options by the glass in a small 175ml or a larger 250ml size. I opted for a small Anakena Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with each course. Unfortunately I didn't make dessert.

As part of my hotel package, and before heading back to London, I returned the Stanley's the next morning to enjoy breakfast. Drenched with morning sunlight the venue had a quite different look, coupled with an early morning buzz. While I was temped by the traditional salt beef hash and bacon butty to start my day, I opted for an Eggs Benedict, made with Burford Brown Eggs, softly poached with cured ham and a light hollandaise sauce on a toasted muffin. Divine. An hour later, I headed out in the cool morning air to Lime Street station in a taxi, I had time to reflect. My trip had been whirlwind, in fact less than 24-hours, but I'd see a great football match, it didn't rain, and I'd enjoyed my return to Liverpool at a fabulous hotel with some pretty fine dining. And what's not to like about that.

Stanley's Bar & Grill is located at The Titanic, Stanley Dock, Regent Road, Liverpool, L30AN, www.titanichotelliverpool.com.

To get to Liverpool, fly Cathay Pacific from Sydney to London via Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific Airways is the 2014 Skytrax Airline of the Year and offers flights to over 190 destinations in 42 countries and territories. From Australia the airline has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Perth - with a choice of flying in economy, premium economy or business class. From December 8, 2014 there are also four direct flights a week to Manchester from Hong Kong.

There are four flights daily from Sydney, three flights a day from Melbourne, daily flights from Brisbane, four flights a week from Cairns and Adelaide, and ten flights from Perth. All flights provide connections over the Hong Kong hub to the airline’s worldwide network, including eight European destinations (from March 2015 Zurich will be added, taking the number to nine). From Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific offers 5 daily flights to London, offering a choice of flying in economy, premium economy, business class or first class.

Connections to Liverpool from London can be made by Virgin Trains, or from Manchester via train or self-driving.

For more information, visit www.cathaypacific.com.

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