Have you ever known a music venue that does great food as well?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a regular at Liverpool’s live music venues; The Barfly, Lomax, Korova and even the Krazy House, our very own nu-metal version of the Mos Eisley cantina bar in Star Wars. Weekends back then were an ear-drum bursting combination of sweaty gigs and sticky dancefloors, usually ending with a penniless 4am walk home, missing a shoe.
The best you could hope for at the Krazy House snack bar was a Pot Noodle and a Drumstick lolly for dessert
These days you’re more likely to find me throwing shapes with my cat in the kitchen than out in the club. If it hasn’t been in the diary for at least a week then the Park Palace Ponies couldn’t drag me off the sofa once that bra hits the floor. So I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of a 9 o’clock dinner reservation at Jimmy’s on a freezing Saturday night. It was so cold that on the way to town I actually saw a scally lad pulling his kecks up.
I’m told that the original Jimmy’s in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is one of the best live music clubs in the country. Little sister in Liverpool lights up the corner opposite the Bombed Out Church with a lava lamp wall that allegedly holds the world record for the most lava lamps on a wall. Roy Castle would be proud.
Since opening in August this year the glam rock and roll boozer on Bold Street has already got everyone talking, with gigs from the Coral, Ten Tonnes and Babybird, as well as Red Rum Club, Space and Dreadzone on the horizon. But have you ever known a music venue that does great food as well? The best you could hope for at the Krazy House snack bar was a Pot Noodle and a Drumstick lolly for dessert.
On the night we visit, Jimmy’s downstairs bar is buzzing, packed out with punters in big winter coats trying not to spill beer down each other. A pink neon sign screams ‘Please be naked’. If I’d known that, I would have left my bra at home.
We venture upstairs nervously and are met by a live blues duo playing to the room and a stunning vista of St Luke’s Church through the windows. Tables are set elegantly with candles and a bar sign made of funeral flowers à la Sgt. Pepper makes for a playful nod to Liverpool’s music heritage. It’s painfully cool and all very civilised.
Staff are chatty, genuine and knowledgeable, impressive given that the restaurant hasn’t been open for long. We order a couple of cocktails; a ‘Nice’ with Havana 3 Year Rum, peach juice and mint; and a ‘Naughty’ with Ron de Jeremy Hardcore Rum, honey, lime, ginger ale and a blow-torched cinnamon stick.
The food menu is a no-nonsense approach to South-American style nibbles, grills, burgers, veggie stuff and tacos. The grill bit says the meat and fish is cooked on the Big Green Egg, ‘a giant barbecue that looks like a big green egg.’ I’ll have whatever the chef’s smoking.
The musicians wind up their set and we move on from cocktails to a large glass of Merlot Rubicone (£7) and Sauvignon Los Tortolitos (£6.50) to accompany the meal.
The food is all killer, no filler. Salt and pepper grilled octopus (£16) is served with a spicy romesco sauce, charred spring onions and sliced red chilli. The Big Green Egg (whatever that is) has worked its psychedelic magic and the cosmic tentacles are perfectly cooked. Vegetables are perfectly crunchy and the plate is left spotless. It may not have looked too pretty but it’s probably the best octopus dish I’ve eaten anywhere in the world.
First choice from the taco menu is sold out we’re a little disappointed to miss out on the ancho chilli pork belly and Cajun jackfruit. The substitutes are good though; sirloin steak is perfectly pink, dressed with a classic chimichurri sauce and crunchy radish.
Beef rib is tender, smothered with roasted tomato salsa, plenty of coriander and possibly more of that herby chimichurri sauce. It’s a punchy South American combo of sweet, savoury and spicy. Crispy cod has a tongue-tingling salted crust, cooled by a creamy avocado salsa. All three tacos are crowned Mexcellent and at £4 each an absolute steal.
There’s only one dessert on the board but sometimes that’s all you need. Warm chocolate brownie (£6) has crisp edges and a light fudge centre, bobbing in a gratifying orange crème Anglaise. Tonight, it’s a rock and roll star. There’s nothing better in life than a pleasant surprise and the Jimmy’s experience has turned it up to eleven.
“What are you up to for the rest of the evening?” asks our host as we settle the bill.
I look at my watch. It is twenty past ten. It’s not going to be a late one tonight but I’ll be back for an encore. I might even stop out for a gig next time. No sleep ‘til bedtime.
Jimmy’s Liverpool, 130 Bold St, Liverpool L1 4JA
The restaurant is currently offering a 50 per cent discount on food during the launch period, until 31 December 2019.
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