Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of The Florist restaurant in Liverpool. Situated in the old Blind School on Hardman Street and centred around the principles of floristry, it promised to deliver a sensory experience of delectable gourmet dishes and enchanting cocktails. As if this wasn't enough, it also boasts floristry workshops, cocktail and gin making masterclasses, making it a cut above your average eating emporium.
As soon as I walked through the door, I was transported into another dimension of sublime floral elegance. The aesthetic is somewhere between shabby-chic and modern-day fairy-tale, with the indoor lantern-lit trees providing a soft, magical ambiance. The entire wall decor is an Instagrammer's dream come true. From cool abstract graffiti-art to vibrant neons nestled in flower walls, it's not surprising there was a queue of bloggers waiting to get their 'money shots' in front of what can only be described as interior goals.
The Florist is split into a downstairs bar area over three rooms, with upstairs comprising of the main dining area and also a private dining space which you can hire. There's also an alfresco area if Spring decides to come back and stay for longer than two days!
I was invited for both a Saturday night drinks shindig and also a Sunday lunch. The Saturday evening gave me a chance to sample some of their beguiling cocktails, all inspired by the three key styles of floristry.
General manager Joel Lee describes them as "English summer garden, Ikebana and modern contemporary, with herbal twists taken fresh from the garden." This was an intriguing concept that I hadn't seen before, so I made sure to try a good five or six (just to be sure I had a good sample size and experienced a full range of what was on offer..) My favourite had to be the Rhubarb in Bloom; described as 'Vibrant, Moreish and Sharp' it did more than delight the senses. It was like having a fruit-infused chest defibrillator shocking your tongue.
I also took part in a floristry masterclass, where I discovered I had a particular talent for breaking ALL the rules of floristry immediately after they were explained to me. However, I think you'll agree, my creation turned out to be a little smasher and it's still going strong five days later!
For Sunday's lunch we were invited to choose a main dish and dessert. I'm on a gluten-free diet so I was interested to see what the selection would be like. From my experience thus far, dining out as a Coeliac has been very hit-and-miss. Sometimes venues have a wide range of options, sometimes there's just chips, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear that lots of the dishes on the Florist's menu could be adapted to be gluten-free. There was even a GLUTEN-FREE YORKSHIRE PUDDING! This was more than I could have ever dreamed of and the fact it was as big as my hand made it even more extra special.
The only criticism I have about the gluten-free options is that they were not clearly labelled on the menu. The vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free options had symbols next to them, but guidance was to let the staff know about any special dietary requirements, whereupon they notified the chef.
Our waiter was extremely charming, helpful and attentive, but didn't know for sure which options were gluten-free and had to keep checking with the chef. I asked about the cauliflower cheese and again he didn't know, so said he would check. I told him if it was GF, I would have it, so when a bowl of cauliflower cheese arrived I assumed it must be gluten-free. But then I saw it had a crispy topping on it and alarm bells began ringing in my head and my bowels - this usually means gluten has been involved, so I asked if the waiter could check again and it turned out NOT to be gluten-free. Fellow Coeliacs, you will know of the panic and relief I speak of when I think about what could have happened if I'd eaten it. Luckily, my intuition and gluten-spotting skills were en pointe that day, otherwise the cauli cheese would have ruined a perfectly lovely weekend in ways that aren't acceptable to discuss on the blog. Eventually, the waiter brought me the checklist that the restaurant used in the kitchen to indicate the presence of gluten on the menu and I was able to double-check that everything I'd ordered was completely gluten-free myself. I understand that it's newly opened and staff are still familiarising themselves with the menu, but I'd suggest making it clear on the actual menu itself with a GF symbol, to avoid having to go back and forth to the kitchen to clarify matters. Apart from that my chicken roast was simply delectable and as you can see from the picture, this is the face of a very happy person!
For dessert, I opted for the polenta cake with raspberry sorbet and I've got no complaints about this whatsoever! It was a delightful little number and I thought it deserved a huge photo for being a strong 8/10 on the pudding-o-meter.
The Florist is the kind of place you don't want to dash off from. It's so laid-back, chilled and intoxicating, so after lunch lots of us stayed just to wander around and take photos.
There is something beautiful to look at around every corner and the attention to detail and execution of the floral theme is indeed a gift to the eyes.
If you're a girly girl, or even someone that loves interior design, then this venue is calling your name. For me, it's as though someone went rooting around in my subconscious and then conjured up The Florist from the dreamworld/fantasy section. I'll for sure be heading back, but don't think it's just a niche that only us women can enjoy. I took my partner Alan as my plus one and I was interested to hear what his manly take on the restaurant was. He told me he was completely blown away by it, thought it was stunning and loved the light and airy dining room. He felt it would be a great family option and is considering taking his Mum for a meal there.
I can highly recommend visiting The Florist if you're in Liverpool, not just because you might see me there, but because it's a truly unique addition to the city's bar and dining repertoire. It's blooming lovely!
*Thank you SO much to The Florist for inviting me to your launch, I will be forever in gratitude and forever sneaking in to get good Instagram pics.
Love Laura X
Outfit details - What else would I wear to a place called The Florist except a bunch of floral prints?? I decided 'more is more' with the floral theme and went with this Primark kimono and culottes. Thank God I didn't disappear into the decor hey? My boots were from ASOS last year, my brooch is vintage and the bag is from a website called Boutique of Molly, I'll be doing another blog on the bag alone soon, so don't worry if you can't see it properly in these pics. But if you can see it and like the look of it, I've got a code for 20% off - use LAURAROCHE20 at the checkout and you can get a discount on me! You're welcome and see you next week!