If you surveyed a test group of Liverpudlians and asked them what they love most about the city, I would lay my life on the fact that a vast majority of them would say the football scene, the nightlife and the signature Scouse style. Roll all of these into one and you get The Shankly Hotel, which is a nostalgic homage to the late Bill Shankly - celebrated football manager who brought Liverpool FC to life during the sixties and seventies. The hotel is also home to the popular The Bastion Restaurant which has just recently released its brand spankin' new summer menus. Here's what happened when I went to experience what the seasonal update has to offer...
Venue and Atmosphere
As I said, both The Shankly Hotel and The Bastion Restaurant are everything you might expect from a luxury sports-themed hospitality venue in central Liverpool. With its upholstered leather pillars, twinkling light fixtures and bold wall murals, the ostentatious interior design screams 'Scouse' and as a Liverpool-born 'bird' myself, I'm allowed to say it. The reception area of the hotel is heavily kitted out with Shankly memorabilia and I imagine, would deliver a fair few wow moments for somebody more invested in the city's football history than me. From historical artifacts displayed in a chic, stylish manner to purchasable merchandise, this is an Aladdin's Cave for LFC fans.
Both the hotel and restaurant have that synonymous Liverpudlian vibe about them too, which was no doubt heightened as we arrived at 6pm on a sunny Saturday evening when the city is gearing itself up for the colourful nightlife it has long been renowned for. The restaurant-bar was perhaps a little too vibrant for the two of us who were hoping to relax in laid-back surroundings to enjoy our food and some audible conversation. I guess it is a rather acquired taste watching the hen-do version of Wonder Woman extract a pair of gold spandex shorts from her undercarriage while a mild-mannered waitress places your menus on the table, but an atmosphere that would no doubt be a huge pull factor if you like to start your party somewhere more upmarket on a Saturday night.
Food and drink
While the rather bizarre merging of lively bar and sophisticated eatery was a little off-putting to start with and once we'd got over the hiccup of being served non-chilled Sauvignon, we were soon appeased with a selection of dishes that had obviously been prepared with an expert hand. The menu is concise, covering just a handful of both classic and modern plates in each course which was fine by me as I'm of the opinion that a few dishes executed with finesse is always better than a 10-page menu of mediocre food. From the new summer a la carte menu we went for the Pressing of Confit Duck Leg & Chicken (£8) and the Baked Kidderton Ash Goat's Cheese (£7.50) to start, both of which looked beautiful and tasted delicious.
While the atmosphere was undoubtedly electric during our visit, dining on a three-course meal while surrounded by cacophonous hen parties might not be for everyone. As I said though, perhaps we can hold the time and day of this particular reservation accountable for the lack of distinction between dining area and dancefloor. I'm looking forward to returning at a more modest time to try out some other dishes from the menu.
If you're heading to The Bastion for a drink, I wholeheartedly recommend their Amaretto Sours and the incredible views of the Liverpool cityscape from their botanical rooftop bar. If you're wanting to check out the edibles, avoid party hour so you can enjoy the delicious ingredients, well-prepared plates and refreshing menu in peace.