For those that don’t already know, the fantastic Pilgrim restaurant have now opened their doors to the foodies of Liverpool after a triumph on BBC’s Million Pound Menu which saw them get investment from none other than the brains behind Santa Chupito’s and Bold Street Coffee, Graffiti Spirits group. With the brand-new Duke Street Market now raring to go, Pilgrim Liverpool have taken pride of place on the mezzanine. With a chic, minimalist décor and small open kitchen, this place somehow combines a super light and airy aesthetic with an intimate and fine dining feel. Although fitting in perfectly with the trendy foodie haven downstairs, this place sits on its own as an idyllic escape as diners prepare to travel down the Camino de Santiago on a truly unique culinary adventure. Buen Camino!
Unlock Liverpool were lucky enough to be invited down to test out the brand-new tasting menu which sits at £65 per person. The menu includes six courses and wine pairings with each course being representative of a particular town, city or region along the most Northern route of the trail – The Camino del Norte. This starts in the town of Irun, just outside the Basque city of San Sebastian and moves along the North coast of Spain. The pilgrimage then turns inland at Ribadeo through the Galacian Hills where Pilgrims will reach Santiago de Compostela. It was time to begin our journey.
Guests of the tasting evening were seated along the long the tables that span the front of the restaurant, directly in front of the kitchen, which was emitting some absolutely mouth-watering smells as we eagerly awaited our first course…
Camino del Norte
Our first course of the evening was salted potato bread with olive oil, baked fresh in Pilgrim’s open kitchen. A little crispy on the outside and super warm, soft and moist in the middle, this dense piece of bread was packed full of the salty flavours of olive oil. Served with only water to keep the palette fresh, I could have eaten the whole loaf.
Our stop at San Sebastian gave us a beautifully presented smoked butter poached scallop, served in the shell. A melt-in-the mouth texture was complemented by a rich, buttery migas and offset with the crunch of roasted walnuts – a true culinary delight to the senses.
Wine pairing: Akarregi Txiki, Txakoli
Meandering into Santander, we came across what can only be described as an exquisite plate of wood fired Iberico presa and citrus salt. Cooked to absolute perfection, soft and rare in the middle and salty on the outside, this, for us, was the standout dish of the evening.
Wine pairing: Pavina, Pinot Noir, Rosado
As well as the Iberico, we were also treated to a stunning plate of coal roasted courgette, flowers, truffled sheeps cheese and seeds. Anyone that thought courgettes were a flavourless vegetable need to visit Pilgrim. Strong earthy flavours combined with a creamy sheeps cheese and a hint of truffle turned courgettes from watery and bland to a culinary work of art.
Wine pairing: Godelia Godello
Arriving at Ribadeo, we were presented with probably the most talked about dish on Pilgrim’s menu since they opened a couple weeks back. The octopus tentacle is not for the faint hearted but as a lover of seafood this dish was incredible. A slightly charred outer edge made way to the light, delicate flavours of the fleshy middle which was elevated totally by the punchy, slightly spicy guindilla salsa – a truly beautiful combination of flavours. If you’re apprehensive about trying octopus, you really do need to take the plunge and give this one a go.
Santiago de Compostela
Our final stop was the best of the evening, the dessert stop. After an array of exquisite savoury flavours, it was time to taste the sweet side of Spain. Diners were first served a sweet Libamus Dulce de Mencia followed by a St James tart, grilled apricot and fennel ice cream. The tart combined sweet, caramelised flavours with a beautifully dense sponge, with the light, fragrant flavours of fennel and apricot peering through. A delightful final stop on our pilgrimage.
After experiencing their so well thought-out tasting menu (the passion from the brains behind the venue is so apparent by everything you see and taste), it’s not hard to predict that Pilgrim are going to go far. Exquisite food combined with a laid-back dining style, this place transports you out of Liverpool as you experience culinary expertise combined with rich, cultural traditions. If you have a special occasion coming up in Liverpool or fancy a unique dining experience in a beautiful setting, get yourself down to Pilgrim and try it out for yourself.