The chance to dine at a restaurant preview in a 19th Century building with no electricity, serving food cooked in an improvised kitchen using gas bottles sounds intriguing enough to begin with and when you also add chef Gary Usher to that mix, it is certain to be an amazing experience.
Gary Usher is a chef restaurateur, celebrated for his inventive nature and passion which has seen him open three successful restaurants already, including Sticky Walnut in Chester, Burnt Truffle in Heswall and Hispi Bistro in Didsbury. He has won the respect of critics and food lovers alike for his culinary prowess and his ability to bring to life the vision of so many interesting restaurant concepts.
His latest venture, Wreckfish Bistro, is located in Liverpool in a historic building which was once a watchmakers. Gary is hoping to open the restaurant permanently via crowdfunding and I was fortunate to attend a pop-up preview designed to give guests a flavour of what Wreckfish is all about.
As you can imagine, the imposing building has plenty of character and inside, exposed brickwork and flickering candlelight made for a charmingly rustic atmosphere while a long table dominated the open plan space, where we would all take our seats for dinner. Many of the items used for the Wreckfish pop-up have been borrowed from local businesses and it is this kind of generosity and camaraderie which I find so appealing about the hospitality industry. As we sipped our welcome champagne, we watched in fascination as Gary Usher and his team set to work prepping the meal in the improvised kitchen at the head of the room. It is not surprising that tables for the preview sold out within fifteen minutes; there is an energy and creativity about his style of cooking which makes you feel that you are witnessing something special and it felt exciting to be a part of the evening.
We enjoyed a selection of rye bread, sourdough and focaccia before the first course was served, a velvety cauliflower soup with a robust earthy flavour.
The second course of sea bass ceviche was superb, with a delicate, zesty flavour rounded off by tangy pomegranate, lime and crispy kale.
It was akin to witnessing a theatre production or performance art, as flames filled the air while the next course was prepared. The grilled sea bream was flaky and tender, with a crispy top where it had been flamed which added an appealing smokiness to the dish, while the courgette spaghetti, taramasalta and parsley oil added fresh and spring like flavours to the plate. This was fish at its finest, a dish with a simplicity which allowed the individual flavours to shine.
The next course of spice rolled venison, chocolate, prune purée, red cabbage and juniper was a bold and sophisticated dish which demonstrated perfectly why Mr. Usher is so renowned. I loved the way the bittersweet chocolate complemented the venison and the elements of this course worked so well together.
Rounding off the evening was an incredible chocolate tart served with hazelnut praline cream and a wedge of golden honeycomb, which took me straight back to childhood with a combination of crunchy, bubbly texture and a subtle sweetness which paired well with the silky and intense chocolate tart.
We soaked up the ambience as we relaxed over coffee; I met some lovely people, which was a definite advantage to this communal style of dining, which led to a convivial atmosphere with everybody chatting over dinner. I had the chance to meet Gary Usher at the end of the meal, he was down to earth and charming and it was a pleasure to meet this talented chef in person.
This was an evening I will never forget for so many reasons, the food was outstanding and the ambience was warm and welcoming but also raw and dynamic, with a real sense of anticipation in the air throughout. I wish Gary and the team every success with opening Wreckfish permanently, which will be an excellent addition to the Liverpool restaurant scene. Follow Wreckfish Bistro on Twitter: @WreckfishBistro and Instagram: @wreckfish_bistro
What do you all think, do you like the sound of this unique dining experience and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.
Until next time,