16 Rodney Street, Liverpool, L1 2TE, United Kingdom

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Roski opened in December 2017. Its chef/owner Anton Piotrowski won the TV show “Masterchef: The Professionals” in 2012, and previously worked at The Treby Arms in Devon for six years, and fleetingly at Brown and Bean in Plymouth. Roski is in a quiet street in what was once an industrial area of the city. The dining room had ten tables, seating perhaps thirty guests at one time, with a bar area at the back. Tables were well spaced, with white tablecloths and an uncovered wooden floor. Music played in the dining room, but at a pleasant volume, and this evening was a nice selection of Motown era music.

The menu style was quite modern in style but not crazily so, and this evening you could choose from a la carte at £45 for three course plus nibbles, or select a tasting menu at £75, though at the weekend only the tasting menu was offered. The wine list had tasting notes but in almost all cases no vintages were shown. In one case, a champagne was described just as “Blanc de Blanc” with no grower at all (t turned out to be Jacquart). This is pretty sloppy for a restaurant that is hardly a casual affair, and with plenty of wines well over £50 in price. Sample references were Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage at £29 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for about £10, Domaine Laporte Sancerre Grand Rochoy at £55 compared to its retail price of maybe £23, and Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon (this turned out to be 2015 when I asked to see the bottle) at a very fair £79 for a wine that will set you back £53 in the high street. Wines were kept topped up well, though when opened our wine was just poured straight out from the bottle, with no tasting offered to the guest. These issues are easily enough fixed, and really should be.

The meal began with a nibble of cod marinated in ponzu dressing, wasabi mayonnaise, fennel mayonnaise, sweet cicely and green tea. The wasabi was apparently a proper grated wasabi root, though its flavour was quite subtle. The complex set of favours actually had good balance, the sharpness of the ponzu complemented by the sweet cicely (15/20). Bread was from the Baltic Bakehouse, a local bakery in the docks area who incidentally make excellent sandwiches. The sourdough was superb, with light airy texture and an excellent crust. Not all bread is created equal, and this was a prince amongst sourdough. A further nibble was a langoustine tail that had been cooked and coated with a wagyu beef dripping crumb and came with garlic puree. The shellfish was lightly cooked and had good natural sweetness, the crumb adding an interesting extra texture, the garlic not too strong (15/20). 

Cornish crab had a light curry mayonnaise, blowtorched sweetcorn, baby sweetcorn, tapioca cracker and a pineapple and mango chutney. The curry flavour was rather subdued but the crab was nice and went well with the chutney (14/20). Red cabbage bolognese was an interesting take on the classic pasta dish, this version entirely meat free and coming with Parmesan custard, courgette, garlic, tomato puree and aged Parmesan. This had rich flavour and the cabbage stood in well for the traditional mince, the garlic and tomato flavour working nicely with the earthy flavour of the red cabbage (15/20). Lemon sole came with potted shrimp and salt cod croquette. The latter was very good but the sole was a little overcooked and on the flabby side. Lemon sole does not have a lot of flavour at the best of times, so the main flavours were the shrimp and the salt cod (12/20).

Cumbrian guinea fowl came with assorted root vegetables grown on the father of the chef’s allotment in Devon, along with Wiltshire truffle and a side dish of smoked mash. The bird had good flavour and the onions with it were nicely caramelised, the vegetables carefully cooked (15/20). Hazelnut sponge came with meringue with vanilla, Chantilly cream and Pedro Ximines jelly, as well as charcoal crisps that were just odd. The sponge had reasonable texture and the jelly was fine, but the charcoal flavour sat strangely with the other elements (12/20). Much better was banoffee souffle, that was well made, evenly cooked and tasted distinctly of its banana and toffee (16/20).

Coffee was from a local roaster called Joe Black, and was very pleasant. This came with a box of chocolates made by the pastry chef. Service was attentive, our waitress (Rose) being friendly and capable. The bill came to £105 with a bottle of that mystery (2009 vintage) Jacquart champagne and a glass of dessert wine. If you ordered three courses and coffee and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical all-in cost per head might be around £80. Overall I rather liked Roski, with its relaxed atmosphere and slightly erratic but often very capable food.

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