Liverpool can often be caught playing catch up when it come to the latest food trends. I suppose this is natural for many cities outside of the ever changing London food scene but it can be frustrating at times to see a lack of progression throughout the city. Over the last couple of years we have seen the emergence of some great independent restaurants in and around the city that are making people think twice about visiting chain restaurants week in and week out. Innovative chefs and restaurant owners are starting to raise the bar with great places such as Camp and Furnace and Lucha Libre offering high quality, relaxed dining. Of course we do have some good restaurants that offer a more formal dining experience but sometimes you just want something that you can really get your teeth in to; like the ' dirty ' offerings we have been seeing in the likes of ' Almost Famous ' in Manchester or ' Joe Allen ' London. A New York style diner that makes any meat lover salivate has long been missing in Liverpool,so it is with open arms we welcome NoLIta Cantina on to the Scouse food map.
With a name inspired by the area north of Little Italy in New York, a menu full of American style delights was to be expected and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Situated at the top end of Bold Street in area that has some of the best food and drink places in town, NoLIta offers informal dining in a basic but cool setting. We went along early evening and although it was very busy we did manage to get a table but think we just touched lucky as the waitress said it has been crazy since it opened up last week. For some, it may seem like just another restaurant showcasing the latest trend and catering for the 'in ' crowd but for me any place where you can be guaranteed to get a good burger is good in my books. There are a few places in town to get a decent burger but generally it is hit and miss as to whether it will be cooked well or have the life grilled out of it. So, whilst I did look at some of the other mouthwatering offerings on the menu, I had to go for a burger. I went for the pastrami burger; two beef patties topped with proper new york style pastrami, pickles and chipotle sauce served in a brioche bun. The dish was served with fried and came along in a little basket rather than a plate, which was a nice touch. I was a little bit disappointed with the bun as the bottom was a bit soggy but other than it was one seriously good burger. Cooked perfectly pink with juices running out and full of flavour it is something I will be going for. On the other side of the table, beef brisket was the dish of choice; tender beef coated in NoLIta dry rub , cooked slow and served with fries, BBQ sauce and slaw. I had a little taste and we both agreed that it was a good dish packed full of flavour, although portion size may be worth looking at as it was on the small side. There are lots of great sounding starters and side dishes but as we were planning to go out drinking we were restrained and got just enough to fill us up. I definitely need to go back for a portion of Frickles ( fried pickles), can't believe I didn't order some! The only down side to the meal was the poor beer choices but I hear that the team have listened to feedback and are already planning on bringing a better selection in. The team at NoLIta have sound like they have a really creative attitude towards the food they want to cook so I am sure we will see lots of great additions to the menu and maybe they will inspire other people to set up shop and get Liverpool setting trends rather than following them.