Livebait, Manchester

I love seafood so was very excited to try Livebait, i’ve always longed for a great seafood restaurant that didn’t require journeying to the sea.

Housed in a Grade II listed building both the exterior and interior is very impressive. They also claim to serve fish that is ethically sourced and support sustainable fishing policies in line with the Marine Conservation Society. So far so good!

It was mostly downhill from there unfortunately. First we were served warm Peroni, a pet hate of mine anyway but even more so at £3.70 a bottle.

Then the food started to arrive. My starter of ‘King Scallops with cherry tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar’ was plated up about as unenthusiastically as I have ever seen a Scallop dish. The scallops seemed good quality and were well cooked with a nice sear on the outsides but were totally bland and lacking in seasoning. The cherry tomatoes were literally dumped on the plate and the balsamic vinegar was actually a balsamic reduction which had been reduced far too much and was so thick and sticky that it barely moved. Not nice.

The Calamari was greasy, chewy and going cold whilst the Tiger Prawns were overcooked.

The ‘Goats Cheese Salad’ was marginally better, at least the cheese was soft, warm and fairly tasty but the salad leaves very unimaginative and again lacking in presentation.

Main courses were slightly better.

I ordered ‘Roast Fillet of Cod served on bubble and squeak’ it was finished with a veal reduction. I was intrigued by the concept of veal with cod, meat & fish is a surprisingly good combination but I was a little worried after the quality of the starters that the chef couldn’t pull it off. It actually worked really well. The cod was cooked fairly well too although the skin could have done with being a bit crispier. The only let down was bubble and squeak which was very bland.

My partners had ‘Smoked haddock with poached egg, parsley mash and mustard sauce’. The fish was slightly overcooked, the mash dry and containing very little parsley or seasoning and the mustard sauce dry and gloopy. The poached egg was surprisingly good though!

For desserts we ordered a Creme Brûlée & a Lemon Tart with Passion Fruit Sorbet. Both were decent if not spectacular. I’m not convinced that all of the elements were made on the premises though, they seemed very ‘shop bought’ but I didn’t bother asking.

After the starters I thought we were in seafood hell. It did pick up slightly with OK main courses and desserts but still nowhere near good enough to make me return, especially at the prices they’re charging. The worst thing for me though is the fuss they make about using sustainable and ethically sourced fish, what’s the point if you’re going to overcook, under season and just generally show it no love whatsoever?

Date of visit:  18.06.2011

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