Living it up - Latin American-style
Where? St. Peter’s Church, Seel St, Liverpool, L1 4BH (0151 702 7394, www.alma-de-cuba.com]
Church venue, church atmosphere? Not quite! The term ‘must-visit destination’ could have been coined about this ultra-buzzy bar and restaurant, which oozes upbeat Cuban, Latin American and Hispanic vibes from every pore of its painstakingly restored stonework to its (exposed wooden beam) rafters. Upon entering the church conversion’s restaurant – which is set on a mezzanine above the packed-out 30ft bar – it’s immediately clear to see why this magnificent place, with its majestic stained glass windows juxtaposed against an über-modern interior, picked up a UK’s Best Venue accolade in 2008.
That all sounds great, but what about the food? In one word: delicious. If the food had been average, we’d still have had a fantastic night, but everything from the wasabi peas pre-starter to the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and almond brownie was, quite honestly, groaningly good. My boyfriend’s steak and dauphinoise potatoes were cooked to perfection, while my chicken, roasted pimento, sweet chilli and ginger brochetas (that’s giant grilled skewer to us), was just-right succulent. The menu aims to mix Cuba’s diverse influences by using flavours from far-reaching countries like India, China, Africa and the Caribbean. There really is something for everyone.
And to drink, madam? ‘Can I suggest you start with our Mojito Bellini?’ asked the waitress. Yes, you certainly can. And yes, I certainly will. Have another one. And another one. Suggested as an aperitifs cocktail, this delicious blend of Havana Especial Rum, fresh mint, fresh lime juice, sugar syrup and prosecco actually had me hooked all evening.
For those who like to vary their drinks? Alma’s innovative list of South American and Caribbean-inspired cocktails caters for every palate, whilst a small but well-selected list of wines will keep vino-lovers happy.
What’s special? Apart from the overall wow-factor and the tasty eats? The original alter acts as host to the DJ and Cuban dancers (turning into a dance floor at weekends), and, flanked by colour-changing lights and tall palm trees, it really is pretty impressive. This is dinner with a vibrant, don’t-hold-back atmosphere.
Need to know? Every Thursday is live music Latin night, and there’s a weekly Sunday Service Gospel Brunch, where, from anytime between 12-6pm, you can dig in to affordable grub whilst listening to an amazing live Gospel choir. Are we preaching to the converted? I do hope so!