Hello mtgUK readers! I’m back again, talking about something that isn’t altering Magic cards this time. I know, I know.
Some of you will know, some won’t, but I’m a chef when I’m not Magicking. As a chef, I have learnt a thing or two about eating out that can only be learned from inside the industry and furthermore, inside the kitchen.
GP Liverpool is this weekend, and a couple of thousand of the UK’s finest people are going to be descending upon Lennon’s hometown to do what they love most, and you wonderful folks are going to be hungry. You’re also going to be there for three days and I’m fairly certain that it’s physically impossible to eat fast-food burgers for three days straight without becoming undone at a cellular level.
What I would like to do today, is offer you a guide – a few humble words of wisdom – on not just where to eat, but also on how to eat safely!
We shall assume that you are not made of money, but have also saved some cash for the trip away. We shall also assume that you don’t want to be killed to death by germs, fat, food bleach, or Celine Dion.
We shall also assume that you are a baseline, average, British dining customer, with fairly broad tastes. This should help keep my ramblings at least partially relevant.
How do you define the quality of your food? At the most basic level, most people define quality of food by the man-hours that have gone into its production, but this is a bit of a false litmus test. What you really need to look at is how it is handled AFTER production, the care and respect it’s treated with. A cow that is barely nourished enough to slaughter and one that has been fed beer and massaged daily both produce safe, edible beef. Texturally there will be a huge difference, but the actual flavour of what you put in your mouth is largely down to what your chef does with it.
Now you probably don’t want to eat food that has been run through a million chemical baths and bombarded with particles… that’ll likely turn you into a comic book hero (sorry, it won’t), but you’ll also really want to avoid eating food that has been stored too long, not covered during storage, unhygienically handled and cooked unsafely. Or you could make a wild guess and choose not to care, if you’re the kind of person who eats knives made of sharks for breakfast for example.
The most important rule when picking a place to eat, especially if you haven’t eaten there before and are walking in off the street – is to know the food is safe. I personally do not eat takeaway doner kebabs. They’re great after a few brewskis, but those vertical spits they’re cooked on? they barely pass UK health regulations. The meat is exposed to the air and is being constantly cooled and heated. They’re supposed to keep those things on and turning the whole night, but many-a-time you’ll see them off, with the meat standing at room temperature for unknown lengths of time. So avoid!
Pick a place that looks clean, looks maintained, has well presented staff and that proudly displays its food hygiene rating in easy view. These are all quick and simple indicators of what makes up a quality restaurant that will serve you well and avoid you getting 10 poison counters from your meal. Oh… and if you don’t know what a food hygiene sticker looks like, here’s a picture:
My restaurant has one exactly like it. 5 Stars, always has been.
It’s always useful to know what options are available to you, regardless of what you fancy. So let’s try to provide some information on actual, front-line fooding in Liverpool. Here is a screen print of the most densely populated restaurant area in central Liverpool. It happens to be right near where you’re going to be playing Magic– how good is that!? It’s like the organisers thought of you and everything!
You’ll see if you zoom that area (Victoria Street) in a little more, that there is a sort of strip, which has a good row of restaurants along it. It’s a bit windy but a fairly direct route. If you’re worried about getting lost, I would advise this is where you should start your search for something better than a harsh sustenance.
Now then, I really like Japanese food… so maybe this is the place I would eat?
I’ve never been there before, I have no idea how clean it is, what their hygiene rating is, or even if the food is good… however I’m also a Head Chef. Do you know how the Head Chef checks the quality of the food he’s serving?
At the start of every day, he tastes everything. If it’s spoiled, he throws it away. If it’s still good, he serves it to you. This means I probably eat considerably more spoiled food than you do. Which in turn means I am quite resilient in the old tum and don’t get bellyache or a naughty bottom nearly as much as you would if you ingested food poisoning bacteria. However, if you do eat here (assuming it passes the checks I’ve provided), please tell me what it’s like! I adore Japanese food with the deepest passion. We have a couple of awesome Japanese restaurants in my hometown, so I’m used to having it pretty good.
What about if you just need something cheap? Something filling? Something basic? Well, there’s a Slug & Lettuce!
Right in the area I’ve pointed you to. For those who have one in their town you’ll know what you’re in for. Microwave food largely, and burgers, fish and chips, etc. However, it is all produced in a central kitchen and shipped out to the branches daily. Central kitchens tend to have extremely stringent food safety policies, so you’re likely to be very safe and very full if you eat at S&L. They also do a bunch of food specials all week round, so it should be fairly easy to not spend too much cash.
Perhaps you don’t much mind what you spend, but you want something you know you’ll like and you know is good quality. Well, once again, there’s a chain that can cover you. Pizza Express.
Most towns and cities have a Pizzex (Pizza Express), so you’ll have almost definitely eaten here before. If not, they also sell all of their pizzas on the fresh food counter at most major supermarkets, so the chances of you having never tasted a Pizzex pizza are pretty slim. They’re a chain, so their FSMS (Food Safety Management System) is deep and is internally audited (in addition to being Government audited, just like all restaurants). So once again, you’re likely to be safe. It is a little pricey for your average gamer – 2 courses and a drink usually runs you close to £30 per person – but it’s actually really quite nice food, in my humble opinion at least.
Aside from this, the little dots on the map I provided also include cafés, coffee shops and lounges. There’s even a sports bar and a Patisserie Valerie amongst them. Grab the page up here and take a look for yourself here – http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurants-g186337-Liverpool_Merseyside_England.html#MAPVIEW
Now go have fun! (safely)
Obviously the real important thing here is that you have a great weekend playing Magic… personally I’d really like it if you could do that without the interruption of bottom antics and porcelain phonecalls. It may seem a bit silly to vet the places you eat at, but trust me, the danger is real and despite the best efforts of the government there are still some really dodgy places serving food to unsuspecting victims. Please. I beg you all… don’t eat from nasty burger vans. That’s not to say that proper street food isn’t incredible and usually perfectly safe… just make sure the food you eat is good! Put your sphere of safety on, you’ll thank me for it come Monday!
Also guys, please do get back to me with any hidden gems you find. In my research for this article I couldn’t find a reliable method of deep-scanning the city, so I’ve had to rely largely on the mainstream eateries. But I’m sure Liverpool, like most great cities, has some incredible little joints serving crazy good food, hidden out of the way.
Community Question: What are your food plans for events like GPs?
GLHF & Bon Appetite,