Going to church on a Sunday is not for everyone. It was certainly not what I had in mind when I booked a weekend away in Liverpool with my wife. However, after eating out the night before and having enjoyed a rare lie in and a light breakfast, I was ready for lunch as we walked around the city centre. I had booked Alma de Cuba, which is a five minute stroll from the city centre, as I had heard and read rave reviews.
Alma De Cuba is a bar and restaurant housed in what was formerly St Peters Catholic Church. Built in 1788 it was oldest catholic church in Liverpool until it reinvented itself as Alma de Cuba in 2005. From the outside, you can clearly see that it was a church and the developers have cleverly retained as many of the original fixtures and fittings as possible: including the upstairs gallery where the restaurant is housed, the altar, the huge wooden beams in the roof and the beautiful stained glass windows.
We arrived at 1.30pm and were shown up the old staircase to the restaurant area. The architecture in Alma de Cuba is stunning and as restaurant settings go, this was one of the most impressive I have ever experienced. The staff, all dressed in a black uniform, were very attentive and friendly. A gospel choir began to perform as we were handed our ‘Gospel Brunch’ menus (the menu differs slightly on a Sunday from the main menu) and I thought to myself this place is special. I just hoped that the food lived up to the high expectations created by the impressive venue and atmosphere.
Due to the amount of food we had consumed the night before, we skipped starters and decided to go straight to the main courses. My wife ordered the fish of the day, which was a salmon fillet rubbed in alma spice mix with a watermelon and papaya salad with sweet potato wedges. I ordered the lamb brochette with a complimentary side dish of two potato dauphinoise. Whilst waiting for our food to arrive, I took the opportunity to have a brief walk around and take a few pictures (being careful of course not to invade the personal space of the other diners). It really was that impressive a building that it demanded photos to be taken of it.
When the food arrived it looked stunning. My wife’s salmon was perfectly cooked and the accompanying salad was a delight – refreshing and light with a real punch of flavour. My lamb brochette was simply amazing – huge chunks of lamb well-seasoned and perfectly cooked with bread in between to soak up the juices. The gravy that came with the lamb was quite simply the greatest gravy I have ever had – I could have quite happily had a bath in it. It was that good. Thick, flavoursome and with a generous hint of mint – absolutely gorgeous. I proceeded to pour the whole lot over the lamb and bread. The accompanying potato dauphinoise was great as well: not overly creamy or rich and with the natural sweet flavours of the sweet potatoes evident.
Both portions were very generous and, as a result, my wife and I decided to share a dessert. We plumped for the crushed sticky Italian meringue with fresh lime curd, sticky orange compote and crushed ginger snaps. Again, the food was amazing. The lime curd and the orange compote really added a depth of flavour to the sweet meringue and the crushed ginger snaps added texture. This was definitely a dessert to share, as it was enormous and would have easily defeated either of us if we had order it individually.
With the great gospel music in the background, and my belly full of great food, I could have happily wiled away an hour or so in Alma de Cuba – maybe taking in the Sunday papers. Unfortunately we had to go to the grandparents to collect the kids. Back to normality with a bump you might say.
The bill came to just over £50 (my wife and I had each ordered a few non-alcoholic cocktails) and I have to say it’s the best £50 I have spent in a restaurant in a long time, certainly in the last few years. If in Liverpool, you really must stop by at Alma De Cuba. Even if you don’t get the opportunity to eat their amazing food, have a quick drink in the bar area downstairs as the building and architecture alone are worth seeing. A real treat.