24-hour offies, the world’s smallest pub, a packet of biffs and all the meat
WE were no longer alone.
All I did was upload a picture of a bottle of wine in an ice bucket and suddenly our party of two became a digital rabble of ten.
“Chateau Musar, in Kenny”, I’d captioned the impulsive Facebook shot. Seconds later the phone jangled what would be the first of dozens of notifications that night.
First of all Anar, the Turkish barbecue that sits on the corner of Laurel Road and Prescot Road, was not in Kenny - or to give it its official name, Kensington. No it was in Fairfield, insisted a cab driver I know. No, cried a Liverpudlian voice from the Caymen Islands, Matt Sloane, former restaurant sommelier of note: this was, in fact, Elm Park.
Others chipped in and the talk turned to the prostitutes of Sheil Road, their contemptuous treatment and pitiful remuneration and whether or not it was illegal for a taxi driver to deliver punters to a house of “ill repute”. And before we’d even finished our starters, a fight had broken out online.
It has to be said that Kensington/Fairfield/whatevahhh is not the first destination that springs to mind for the gourmands of this world. Heavy drinkers, now that’s a different matter. The problem is not unique to the area, but the community’s acknowledgement of the problem perhaps is.
Right now there is another fight on, led by local activist Steve Faragher, to block moves by a petrol station to sell alcohol 24/7.
This is the same man who once designated a number 10 bus stop on Prescot Road, ‘the smallest pub in Britain’, so popular was it among street drinkers. He tells how an intrigued Radio Merseyside reporter turned up to do a broadcast on this quirky superlative, only to be confronted by two “pissheads” who fed the lad a slurry tale about how the bus stop pub was on a heritage danger list and how they were applying to get it Grade II listed status. Duly swallowed, it all went out on air.
...online reviews indicate that others are scandalised by these libertine ways.
Then there was the April Fool’s joke produced by Faragher’s local newspaper, the Kensington and Fairfield Voice, which reported news that Liverpool City Council was considering plans to split the city into areas of special retail and cultural interest. Allerton Road would become “The Chardonnay Crawl”, Woolton “Organic Woolton” and Old Swan the “Sausage Mile” because of its award-winning butchers.
Outrage was sparked when the bogus report further suggested that every new 24-hour off license and kebab shop application would be allocated to Kensington with a council spokesman saying it “made sense” to have them all in one area.
Back at Anar, my friend is blowing cigarette smoke around and we both agree that, yes, this is just like being in Dalaman. For while the interior of this spacious restaurant may be very grand, we have chosen to avail ourselves of a table in the bolted on exterior marquee which permits shishas - and also cigarettes. Having stubbed out my last Lambert & Butler twenty years ago this week, such things have ceased to bother me, but online reviews indicate that others are scandalised by these libertine ways.
Anar is owned by the L7 Village Supermarket, itself scandalised last week when it was heavily fined for an incident thirteen months ago when health inspectors uncovered ten dead mice along with croissants and breadsticks which had been gnawed by rodents. In its triumphant press release the city council attached several gruesome pictures of the kind that local and national media adore. Buried right at the neglected end of the communiqué was the news that the supermarket was subsequently redeemed and was awarded a four star rating when the hygiene police went back in December. But we mustn’t let that stand in the way of a good story.
Anar is all about meat, and more meat. Chicken and lamb specifically, dressed up in a variety of ways. It’s also about a warm welcome, waiting-on staff who do seem to genuinely care about their customers and what they eat, offering knowledgeable suggestions when we stare at the vast menu blankly.
They point me to Imam Bayildi, baked eggplant hollowed out and filled with pureed flesh, garlic, and onions. But I am all aubergined out after three recent restaurant trips and simply have no further words left to write about them.
Seafood, too, has featured heavily in my life in the past month, but not in that of Fag Ash Lil who eagerly indulges in Karides Tava (£5.99) a perfectly good and generous mezze of king prawns, cooked in a thick sauce of green and red peppers, onion and double cream.
Grilled meatballs (£4.49) aren’t really meatballs at all, but a selection of herby lamb patties, small, crafted by someone with hands the size of say, Donald Trump. They are well prepared and pack plenty of flavour but could really do with something else, a salsa or dip, instead of the sculpted peppers that come with everything.
Kuzu Sote (£10.99) or lamb saute is, in their words, “lamb meat selected conscientiously and weeded out fats.” And it’s a decent enough stew, marinated with ginger and garlic and cooked in a thick sauce with plenty of rice.
The mixed shish (£13.99, main image) is, aside from being a pile of meat, a very fresh and succulent pile of meat and, a failure to consume it all there and then is the gain of my fridge-raiding teenagers returning home from their awful escapades the next night.
With some Turkish folk music blasting out, perhaps the Pied Piper is still near by, for we dance out of the door, literally, with the up-for-it manager, attracting stares, laughter and applause from the staff and customers.
I blame the warm weather.
Anar Turkish BBQ Restaurant, 130 Prescot Road, Liverpool, L7 0JBTel: 0151 363 9300
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Karides tava prawns 7, meatballs 6, mixed shish 7, kuzu sote 7
Strictly Come Dancing
Song, ciggies and shisha