|Filini Restaurant, Liverpool
Radisson SAS Hotel, 107 Old Hall Street,
Tel: 0151 9661500
It’s eight o’ clock on a temperate day at the beginning of April, the night is closing in and the wind is picking up in the streets of Liverpool. You’ve a hard day of shopping and gallery-browsing behind you and now, naturally, your thoughts turn to your stomach. Liverpool has never really had much of a reputation in the line of fine dining and gourmet foods, but in recent years a few award-winning restaurants have established themselves, one of which is Filini’s, nestled snuggly in the bosom of the Radisson SAS Hotel on Old Hall Street.
You can’t really miss the Radisson, a huge phallus-shaped structure of neck-craning proportions looming on the edge of the city centre, anyone approaching the building can’t fail to be impressed, almost intimidated, by the sheer size of the place. Internally however, things are a little more understated and having walked through a smart and twinkling reception area one finds it easy to relax into the friendly greeting and seventies-chic of Filini’s.
Seated by a window offering panoramic views of the Mersey beautified by a royal blue night it is, at first, rather difficult to concentrate on the menu; it’s a pleasing sight and counterbalances a décor that may not be to everyone’s liking. Service is prompt however, and a platter of wonderfully prepared mixed ciabatta and anti-pasto act as a reminder that although it may be pleasant to feast one’s eyes at times like these, it’s far more preferable to feed one’s face and a 32 bin wine list is a good place to start.
With prices ranging from £14.50 to £92 per bottle it’s not difficult to find something to suit both your palate and your budget. The Valpolicella Classico Bonacosta (2003) is just £22 and with full cherry fruit flavours and a very smooth finish it provides a perfect accompaniment to any meal.
The menu at Filini’s is a meld of modern and traditional Italian foods, offering an interesting range of dishes for various dietary requirements, including vegetarian, low carbohydrate and “healthy option”. On first glance, it must be said, that the menu also hints at a chef with an unnatural – some might say disturbing - predilection for all things gelato. To give some credit, at Filini’s they’re certainly not afraid to experiment, push the boundaries, try new things. However, in this life there are just some things that really shouldn’t ever be put together… “parmesan” and “sorbet” being two of them. A complimentary appetiser can often be a very good thing, but sometimes the mouth of that gifthorse really should be examined thoroughly! But anyway…
Bizarre culinary couplings aside, Filini’s menu provides an affordable selection to suit most tastes. For the vegetarians among us, the potato gnocchi with pesto and tomato sorbet (there’s that word again!) makes a very light and nicely balanced starter and contrasts well with a main course of porcini pancake served with truffle foam and a fresh green side salad, where the carnivorous diner may well be tempted by the oxtail ravioli with smoked bacon salad to start, followed by a main dish of the very reasonably priced chicken breast with tomato, parmesan and garlic. A wide range of deserts, including a very prettily presented bitter chocolate tart with white chocolate and chilli ice cream and the slightly more traditional steamed lemon sponge with orange ice cream are priced at £5.75.
Being based in such a generously proportioned hotel, Filini’s will always be host to a large number of guests, regardless of the night of the week on which you visit, so a certain amount of ambience is guaranteed, the staff are prompt, efficient and friendly and although some dishes may not appeal to all pernickety palates (apologies), Filini’s is an unforgettable experience for any visitor to Liverpool.
Breakfast: 6:30a.m.-10:30 a.m. (Mon-Fri); 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m. (Sat); 7:30 a.m.-noon (Sun)
Lunch: Noon-2:30 p.m. (Mon-Sat)
Dinner: 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. (Mon-Sat)