One thing I’ve never quite been able to wrap my head around are the people who choose to spend Christmas somewhere hot. No... just no. The festive season is for shivering around mugs of mulled wine at the markets, then sticking some penguin-print thermals on and rooting yourself on the couch in front of Gavin & Stacey re-runs while it’s blowing a hooley outside.
Last week, though, I got a taste of how the other half live when I went to check out Liverpool’s brand new Mexican taqueria and cocktail bar, Madre. Marked by a fluorescent pink neon sign overlooking the water at the Royal Albert Dock Atlantic Pavilion, the venue is an exciting clash of old and new. The exterior remains true to Liverpool’s maritime history, but head inside and it’s two floors of contemporary cool.
More neon lighting, minimal canteen-style furniture, hipster wall art and a soundtrack which is worthy of its own Spotify playlist tell you that Madre knows exactly who she is. This isn’t one of those wishy-washy newbies that plays it safe (and boring), this is exciting. But then, you’d expect nothing less with it being born of the brains behind other popular venues Volpi, Belzan and the former Filter & Fox.
We kickstarted proceedings with a speciality peach margarita and a punchy little frozen number which was definitely more biased towards tequila than any other ingredient. For those (like me) who have had a turbulent relationship with tequila, go for something fruity from the ‘non-agave’ list instead. If cocktails aren’t your bag, there’s always organic wines and beers to choose from.
From the edible selection, our host advised that we each went for a 'snack' each, a taco and something ‘to share' between us. We wasted no time in doing exactly that, picking out the patatas (£4), elote (£5), pork belly taco (£6.50), patatas taco (£5) and the Contramar-style seabass a la talla sharer (£22). Drawing inspiration from the Spanish word for mother, dishes here are designed to be shared and enjoyed as they would be around madre’s kitchen table.
Highlights for us were the stunning seabass dish which came as a full fish cooked to flaky perfection and coated in a tasty technicolour selection of salsa verde and salsa roja; the crispy potatoes with a rich garlic sour cream; and the ‘elote’ grilled corn on the cob that was caked in a delicious chipotle mayo and Wensleydale cheese. Do not leave without trying the churro French toast (£7) because it's a complete and utter delight; a thick wedge of cinnamon French toast piled high with soft serve ice cream and warm berries. What a time to be alive.
The DesignMyNight Digest
There's no denying that everything about this Royal Albert Dock spot is awesome. The cocktails are effortlessly chic, most of the food menu is delicious and the venue itself gives Madre an infectious energy. Rather ironically, the tacos are a bit of a weak spot at this taqueria, but there is plenty else to impress.