It is a building best known for its time as the home of Probe Records during the mid 70’s to early 90’s, when Liverpool’s music scene centred around Eric’s on Mathew Street just around the corner, and together they served as a base for the rise of some of the city’s biggest musical names like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. For the last two months though it has been known as the Button Street Smokehouse and now offers visitors to the Cavern Quarter an urban take on the American Deep South.
It was pleasantly spacious with its smart but rustic interior of brick walls and wooden tables, and the place was nice and cool with the air conditioning – refreshing to come in to from what was a very hot day outside. We were taken to our seats on the far side of the restaurant and were left to contemplate the drinks menu. It has to be said that the leather seats we had were a little awkward to sit on as the metal frame the leather was bound to somewhat digs into the back of your legs. I was, however, drawn to the charming musical décor on the shelves next to our table, and noticed the couple on the table behind us similarly intrigued by it as well. There are trumpets, oboes and violins on the shelves and attached to the walls which pays a nice tribute to the Blues music that originated from the Deep South.
We were given a jug of water before the waiter took our drinks order and had a chance to peruse the menu feeling immediately refreshed from the heat outside. There was a good selection of wine, cocktails and spirits, but our eyes were directed towards the plentiful bottled beers section which contained a few of my favourites like Brooklyn, Pacifico and good old Sam Adams. I went for a Buddy’s Bourbon though, with one of my companions opting for a Pacifico, and we were both pleased to see our beers arrive with a frosty chilled glass placed next to it.
By this time we had reached a decision when it came to the food; starters were skipped with two of us opting to share some of the various small plates and sharing deals, whilst my other companion tackled the 8oz Sirloin with his choice of their five sauces. The first deal we took advantage of was the Sliders which was 5 for £17 (alternatively 3 for £11 or 8 for £26) and we tried the BBQ Pulled Pork, Smoked Chicken with Celeriac and Apple and Mustard Seed House-Slaw, Spicy Bourbon BBQ Beef, Beef with Monteray Jack, Jalapenos and Chipotle Mayonnaise, and Popcorn Shrimp.
To accompany this we went for the 3 for £12 small plates deal (alternatively 5 for £19 or 8 for £29) and ordered Smoked Baby Back Ribs, Chicken Wings marinated in Hot BBQ sauce and some more Popcorn Shrimp. To complete the feast we added the Smokehouse Seasoned Skinny Fries and the House Salad.
The steak arrived with plenty of onion rings and a charred cob and, having asked for it medium rare, my companion was pleased to see it was perfectly pink and glistening when he carved a piece off. We got involved in his onion rings in exchange for a taster of our small plates and side dishes which all arrived in good time along with the Sliders – displayed on a long wooden board with little American flags in each one.
Food like this, particularly when shared, should also be fun to eat. And it was. We all ate with a smile on our face and talked about little else than how good everything was and other things from the menu we wished perhaps we’d ordered. We opted to try a couple of desserts just to round everything off, going with the cinnamon Churros with chocolate sauce and a Chocolate Brownie with Raspberries and Ice Cream – the latter looking particularly spectacular upon its arrival. Both were extremely tasty and, normally one to indulge in starters and mains, I might have to dabble in the desserts a bit more often. Greg Wallace would have happily taken a running leap into either of them.
Our waiter was extremely friendly and gave us a pretty good service. He was also more than happy and knowledgeable enough to engage in a bit of chat about how the place was going and the history of the building. The music was also excellent throughout playing a mixture of old school blues, rock ‘n’ roll and, to my absolute delight, “Baby Blue” by Badfinger which people may recognise as the last song from a certain TV show about a chemistry teacher and his ex-pupil who indulged in a few extra curricular cooking classes. Extra points awarded for that. All in all we had a great time and would definitely come back to conquer some more of the menu. Next time I might even leave the way clear for the 24oz Club Steak which they claim is ‘for 2 to share or 1 to dare’. Well, Button Street Smokehouse, I am the one who dares.