Wolstenholme Square, Liverpool
Words by Mark Langshaw
Despite drawing inspiration from a bygone age of industrial invention, Clockworks is a bar and restaurant ahead of its time.
Wolstenholme Square is set to become a bustling residential and leisure district once regeneration work has concluded, but right now it’s little more than a glorified building site.
Sat in the shadow of Elliot Group’s development in progress, Clockworks is something of a hidden gem but it’s one you won’t regret unearthing if my lunch time experience is anything to go by.
My date and I were struck by the venue’s décor as our host led us to our table. Factory-style lamps, industrial furnishing and exposed brickwork gives Clockworks undeniable character.
Situated under ambient low lighting, old-school cinema seats are optional in the venue’s dining area, adding to its quirky charm; and we soon discovered that the creativity extends to the menu.
Although Clockworks’ mixologists are more than capable of whipping up traditional cocktails, the original concoctions are the highlights of its drinks offering.
I prepped my palate with a Mingo City Mule (£7) – a mixture of gin, cherry, mulberry syrup, lemon and soda water. The glass of fruity goodness and syrupy delight had just the right amount of tang to balance this sweet equation.
My date started with The Edison (£7.50), which is as inventive as the name suggests – a hard-hitting vodka kick offset against raspberries, blueberry jam, lemon, egg white, apple juice and plum bitters.
Clockworks’ lunch menu includes small and large plates to cater for punters seeking light bites and hearty meals alike.
We were eyeing up the small plates to serve as our starters when our host kindly offered to whip up a platter so we could sample the lot. What a gent.
Our feast arrived piled high with unique creations you simply won’t find elsewhere. The Tempura Frickles with wasabi mayonnaise (£3) were the pick of the bunch – pickles deep fried until ultra-crispy, served with a tangy dipping sauce to ignite the flavour powder keg.
Similarly, the Thyme Crusted Goat’s Cheese (£6) and Black Pudding Bon Bons (£5.50) offered imaginative twists on dishes we’d tasted countless times before, earning full marks in both the flavour and creativity stakes.
For the main event I selected the Coca-Cola Slow Cooked Belly Pork (£10) because the theme of the afternoon had very much become trying new and unusual things.
Served with red cabbage and mustard mash on the side, this unorthodox meal was a winning alliance between sweet and savoury – succulent pork coated in a sauce subtly enhanced by the world’s most popular soft drink.
Coca-Cola is probably the last thing you’d want poured over your main, but it’s used in shrewd quantities during cooking to breathe new life into a classic dish, while the red cabbage added welcome crunch and the mash, absorbing the leftover sauce, proved the perfect companion.
My date chose the Buttered Chicken Breast (£9) and was bowled over by the sheer quality of the meat. Having sampled a mouthful, I can also vouch for the triumphant poultry.
The chicken was cooked to perfection and the red wine gravy it was served with upped the ante even further.
Moreover, the accompanying bacon-wrapped asparagus and sweet potato mash made the dish complete, hearty enough to serve as a solid alternative to the Great British roast.
Clockworks ticks all the right boxes on the décor front but style certainly doesn’t trump substance as it boasts one of the most unique menus in town, and everything we sampled comes thoroughly recommended.