Once seen as the reserve of Liverpool’s ‘corporate’ class, the area surrounding Castle Street and Water Street is fast becoming one of the city’s most vibrant and fashionable quarters with a string of bar and restaurant openings in the past year.
It’s not just big names such as CAU and Veeno which are flocking to the district; some of the city’s most-loved independent eateries are now beginning to expand from the traditional bohemian heartlands of Bold Street and Hope Street.
To help you make sense of this emerging foodie hotspot, Your Move looks at what’s drawing new establishments to the area and highlights some of the most anticipated openings still to come.
The continued evolution of the Ropewalks area and the rise of Liverpool ONE have significantly contributed to a food and drink offering in Liverpool which can now comfortably hold its own against any UK city.
In recent times the Baltic Triangle has emerged as a hub of creative businesses and in-vogue venues which attracts an increasingly diverse demographic to a previously overlooked part of the city centre.
One area of town which has also, in the past, been somewhat dismissed by night-time revellers is the commercial district, which is now experiencing a renaissance of its own with a boom in new bar and restaurant openings around Castle Street and Water Street.
With the likes of CAU, Nova 48, Veeno, Pinch and District House all opening their doors over the past 12 months and plenty more in the pipeline, it seems this area is fast becoming one of Liverpool’s hottest food and drink quarters.
“Much in the same way that Bold Street has developed a reputation for independent bohemian eateries, Castle Street and the surrounding areas have developed that ‘occasion’ restaurant niche,” explains Michael Doran, communications manager at the Liverpool BID Company, which represents more than 500 businesses in the commercial district.
“These are the type of ‘event’ eateries where you would go to celebrate a special occasion with your wife or propose to your girlfriend, for example.
“Liverpool has got an extremely well-oiled machine when it comes to its night-time economy but there are still gaps in the market.”
Michael points to the commercial district’s 60,000-strong workforce as a key factor in sustaining the area’s restaurants during the week, whilst highlighting the opening of the Aloft hotel on North John Street and Exhibition Centre Liverpool on the waterfront as vital in attracting more weekend visitors.
One new venue in the commercial district which has been in the pipeline for some time is the latest venture from the team behind the Baltic Social on Parliament Street. HUS, as it will be known, is a Scandinavian style café bar which will be housed in the Tempest office building on Tithebarn Street.
Offering breakfast, lunch and evening meals, HUS will target the 20,000 office workers within walking distance of the building. Beneath the Tempest a concrete bunker known as ‘Kolbox’ will be used by the venue to showcase pop-up art exhibitions, gigs, secret supper clubs and underground cinema events.
During the weekend, HUS’s roof terrace will host guest DJs and acoustic acts whilst offering stunning views of the city’s skyline.
“We viewed the Tempest building just over a year ago and having been around the district a lot we realised there was nothing out of the ordinary or interesting,” explains Alison Lockett-Burke, director at Baltic Social.
“We’ve seen the way the Baltic Triangle has gone and for us we thought it was a really good opportunity to go somewhere before that area started becoming a bit more creative and a little bit more interesting – we wanted to be one of the first people to go and do that.”
Alison believes the coming years will see the district develop into an ever-increasing hub of creative activity and has already noticed changes for the better.
“We acquired the site a year ago and since then we have seen the whole area get busier and we know people with business here – I think it’s quite an exciting place to go.”
Work on HUS will get underway in the coming weeks with an expected opening set for early September.
One venue which is very much open for business is Santo Maluco on Castle Street. The new pizzeria and bar is the latest venture from Graffiti Spirits, the team behind established Ropewalks haunts Santa Chupitos and Salt Dog Slims.
“I think Castle Street has been underused for a number of years,” says Matthew Farrell, director at Graffiti Spirits.
“We saw the site and thought it was a good opportunity to do something a little bit different down that end of town.
“It’s a beautiful end of the city – it’s always been seen as a little bit corporate but I’ve been a big admirer of the area for a long time and it’s great to see it really thriving now.”
Matthew is hoping the new venue will be able to tempt people who wouldn’t usually consider Castle Street as their go-to location for night-time entertainment.
“Obviously it’s a different demographic of people but I’ve been quite shocked by how many people who have been in since we’ve opened who don’t know any of the bars at this end of town,” he adds.
“Whether it will bring people across town I don’t know, but people should give it or the area a try.
“Ropewalks and the commercial district are very different but they have their own values and both offer a lot to the city.”
Also on the menu
Work is currently underway to transform the former Noble House into the latest branch of popular cocktail bar and restaurant, The Alchemist. Arguably the most high-profile name heading to Liverpool this year, this will be the company’s sixth branch when it opens on 12 August with two venues in Manchester, two in Leeds and one in London.
This Manhattan-style bar and eatery, which has been a revelation in Manchester’s trendy Spinningfields quarter since opening in 2013, is heading to the home of the former What’s At 62 restaurant this autumn.
Born out of owner Nisha Katona’s obsession to build an eatery serving proper authentic Indian street grub, Mowgli has fast become a firm fan favourite on Bold Street since it popped up in 2014. Demand has been such that Nisha is now set to launch her second restaurant just a stone’s throw from the Town Hall later this summer.