Hardman Yard, Liverpool
Review by Matthew Smith
Nestled amongst Hardman Street bastions The Old Blind School and Buyers Club sits Oktopus – a quirky yet stylish, modern European small plates outfit.
With its stripped back aesthetic and exposed brickwork, the laid-back space mixes modern dining and minimalistic fixtures and fittings with flashes of an industrial environment.
After being seated we were able to watch as each meal was carefully prepared in the open kitchen-restaurant area.
My dining partner and I had a quick perusal of the beguiling menu as we watched the chefs perfect each dish.
First came the drinks – a refreshing orange and lemonade (£2.50) and an orange juice (£1.50).
We then turned our attention to the food and were surprised to find a lack of choice when it came to starters.
With only two options my dining partner plumped for the Wild Loaf Sourdough (£3) which was accompanied by samphire and herb butter, whilst the Popcorn Mussels (£3.50), garnished with chilli and garlic, caught my attention.
Fresh and crusty, the Wild Loaf Sourdough combined well with the samphire and complimented the herb butter.
For me, the Popcorn Mussels were a particular highlight. I was very impressed with the taste, texture and flavour of the seafood, although I must admit that the garlic did overpower the flavour of the chilli – and as a lover of spicy food I was hoping this wouldn’t be the case.
Next came the mains. After being advised by our waitress, we decided to share four of the small plate dishes.
My plus one ordered the Roast Carrots, Torched Brie, Carrot Top Pesto and Toasted Hazelnuts (£6) and readily admitted it was her favourite dish. After a quick taste I can also vouch for its standing.
The plate of Burrata, Norfolk Asparagus, Sugar Snaps, Almonds and Breadcrumbs (£7.20) was her second choice.
Meanwhile I was enticed by the Parisian Herb Gnocchi, Pink Goats Cheese, Pine Nuts and Sorrel Cream (£6.50), which I must say was too rich for me.
My next option – the Beet Cured Salmon, Hung Yoghurt, Cucumber, Orange and Crostini (£6.50) – combined well with the previous course.
Each dish arrived at the table swiftly.
We finished the evening in style by sharing the cheese board (£6), which featured Tuxford and Tebbutt, Dambuster and Kidderton Ash along with three slices of sourdough. The dish certainly made an impression with its rustic combination of sumptuous, fresh bread and a trio of traditional cheeses.
We also ordered the Chocolate Nemesis (£6), which was served with toffee cream and hazelnut praline. Despite my lack of a sweet tooth, I can honestly say that it was in fact a delightful way to end the meal – it was thick, rich and utterly delicious.
Oktopus fits in well with Liverpool’s food and drink scene, but we both agreed there is room for improvement.
Although the food was certainly stylish and modern, the quantity of starters and the occasional overpowering flavours seemed like too much of an attempt to impress.
Overall though, the highlights of the meal more than made up for any weaknesses.