About a week or so ago, Veeno reached out on Twitter and asked if I wanted to join the guestlist for their new menu launch at their Liverpool wine cafe on 10th May. Having walked passed Veeno several times whilst in the city centre, but never having had the chance to go inside, I was really excited to check it out. After a quick text to Ryan to see if he wanted to join me, I added our names to the gueslist and eagerly awaited Tuesday evening to arrive.
We arrived slightly before our reservation, but because it was so rainy out, we decided to chance it and see if there was a table ready for us. Even though our booking was not until 7.30, the bar was already nearly full, with only a few tables for free. With everybody talking, smiling, and catching up, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. The bar itself was decorated beautifully, with both modern and rustic elements that made it feel both contemporary and intimate at the same time. With an extensive selection of wines on display at the back of the bar, it felt at though you could have almost been sitting sipping your glass of red in somebody's wine cellar. It was a fabulous ambience, and really helped set the tone for the evening ahead.
The first thing that was so impressive was the quality of the wine. Offered a glass of either the house red, white or rosé on arrival, two rather large reds were brought over to us not long after we sat down. Decanted in to beautiful glasses, we let the wine air for a few minutes before giving it a try. And it was just lovely. Being someone whose palette is very sensetive to strong, sharp flavours, I can easily tell if I'm not going to appreciate a wine, but this was smooth, velvety, went down like a charm, and was the perfect accompaniment to the Sputini (appetisers) which was soon to follow.
Veeno have added several new items to their menu, and, not really knowing what we were going to be sampling, I was keen to see if the food quality matched that of the wine. The first dish that we got to try was a board of herb-cured pancetta accompanied by breadsticks. Having recently adopted a flexitarien diet (cutting down on meat,) it was such a treat to have some meat. The cut we've made has meant that whenever we have meat as part of our daily diet, I really, really appreciate it.
The pancetta was beautiful - wafer thin, but jam-packed full of flavour, and unlike any other pancetta I had ever tried. The herby flavours really came through in the meat, but was not too heavy, and worked really well paired with the crispy crunch of the breadsticks. It was the perfect amount for the two of us, and if we weren't that hungry before we sat down, this sure kick-started our appetite and got our bellies growling for more.
With a gap in between dishes that gave us enough time to clear our palettes and have a moment to ourselves, we couldn't wait to see what was in store for us with the second dish. And even now, thinking about this one, it still intrigues me. Rugged cubes of parmesan sat on a bed of rocket and with a small bowl of chilli jam dip on the side greeted us next. Personally, when food gets my senses going, and I keep going back for more, it's a really good sign, but for this one, I couldn't pinpoint just what it was that captivated me so. The jam was bursting with flavour, with a punchy spiciness that hit you from the get-go. There wasn't too much power to the point of it being inedible, but you could definitely tell it was there. The parmesan was mellow, and melt-in-the-mouth, with the rocket providing that pepperiness that made a happy medium. Put all three elements together and it was a match made in heaven, with a blend of ingredients that worked really well. Separately, they might not have worked as well, but it was testament to the dish that there was not a scrap of food left in sight. We even cleared out all the chilli jam from the bowl. I think that in itself says a lot.
It was at this point that we both found ourselves with empty wine glasses. And we couldn't have that whilst sitting in a wine bar - oh no! Leaving the ordering in Ryan's hands, he decided it was time for an extra special treat, and ordered a bottle of red wine that Veeno titles "The Richest."
I can honestly tell you it was one of the nicest bottles of wine I've ever had. The waiter had sold it for me already when he said "it tastes like Christmas," but after having just a sip, I was already overwhelmed. The blend of currants, prunes, herbs and cocoa did this little dance around my mouth, and created such a rich, smooth, beautiful taste that there are no better words to describe it than "Wow." If you are a red wine fan, I highly recommend you check that one out. I think it was just under £30 for the bottle, but the price tag - in my opinion - was completely justifiable.
The last of our sputini was a board of salami and cheese (which unfortunately I didn't catch the name of.) This combination is always a winner for me, and I tucked in enthusiastically. The cheese was mellow and creamy - almost a hybrid of Emmental and Leerdammer (without the holes of course,) - and created a contrast in flavour with the salami that was really more-ish. To be honest I think I devoured most of this dish myself I like it that much. It was the perfect way to round off the evening, and had the board been twice as big, I think I would have been in utter heaven.
I had the most amazing time at Veeno's new menu launch, and I can't for the life of me understand why I've never ventured inside before. It's the perfect place for meet-ups, after work drinks, and date nights, and with it's central location and small outside seating area, I can see it being somewhere we go back to as we approach Summer. One of their wine tasting experiences is already on my list of things I need to try, and I can't wait to go back.
To find out more about Veeno, or to find your nearest, click here.
Read this far? What's your favourite wine or drink of choice