Generally speaking, fine dining and music events are considered separate entities. This rule, however, does not apply to The Workshop of Waterloo — the quirky creation of Steve Rice that has entertained food and music connoisseurs for the last two and a half years. The restaurant and wine bar, situated on Crosby Road North, serves fine wines, alternative local craft beers and a creative selection of small plates, with music playing an integral part of its alluring atmosphere.
The monthly ‘Vinyl Solution’ event features quality tunes played on vinyl and the monthly ‘Modernism’ event features DJs and special guests playing jazz, motown, ska, R&B and Northern soul. Every Tuesday, the ‘Jazz Eat & Beats’ night consists of live jazz accompanied by fine wine and cheese. The ‘Friday Elements’ weekly event is all about DJs sets from top local DJs such as Adele Moss, Nick Gartland and Neil Craven. We attended on a Sunday afternoon to sample the ‘Sunday Elements’ showcase, a weekly event where guests are able to kick back, relax and let time escape them whilst DJ Martin Whitehead plays some chilled grooves.
Having arrived in Waterloo, my partner and I entered The Workshop and were instantly taken somewhere else as we became submerged in a super chilled Sunday vibe with a cool Massive Attack backdrop. With a raw and rustic feel about the place and lots of wood, interesting features and fascinating artwork, we knew that this was somewhere we could lose ourselves and allow time to pass us by effortlessly. We were greeted by the charismatic and forward thinking owner, Steve Rice, and Adele Moss — the fantastically talented local DJ who works and DJs there — before being shown to our table by the flawlessly polite young Matt.
As Martin Whitehead soothed us with funky mixes of Lou Reed and Led Zeppelin classics, we were assisted with our wine selection by Steve, who recommended Goru — a fruity and flavourful full bodied verdot that proved perfect for perusing the intriguing menu. The ‘Sunday Elements’ food offering is either a Sunday Roast and/or the Small Plates menu — a menu with fish, meat and veg categories and between five and seven dishes in each category, all with interesting twists.
Amanda opted for King Scallops followed by a Beef Roast whereas I selected one dish from each of the three Small Plates sections — Oysters from the ‘Fishy For Your Dishy’ section, Pork Belly from the ‘Moos Oinks Baas & Clucks’ section and Salt Baked Beetroot from the ‘Roots Shoots & Greens’ section. What I love most about the Small Plates menu is the variety and the fact that there are so many different combinations of dishes available — a different culinary experience can be had with each visit to The Workshop.
Whilst we waited for our dishes of choice, we lounged at leisure and enjoyed Martin’s melodic mix of Nils Frahm before being joined by our friend Enrico, who soon felt on the same relaxed, dreamy level as us. As a restaurant owner, Enrico was excited by the creative menu and as a dog owner he loved the dog friendly policy. Enrico opted for the Pork Belly from the Small Plates menu, followed by a Beef Roast, and when our food arrived — WOW — were we impressed! As a writer, it’s easy to exhaust superlatives and go on for hours about quality cuisine, however in this case I’ll let the images do the talking.
Whilst waiting for our selected desserts from the ‘Oh, Go On Then’ section of the menu (Apple Tart for Amanda and Chocolate Pecan Brookie for me), we explored the rest of The Workshop. Another cosy and relaxed dining area is situated upstairs, as is the kitchen. We spoke with Head Chef, Billy, and learnt that most of the food is sourced locally such as the majority of the meat that is provided by the butcher based on the same road. As the day progressed and we spoke more with Steve and his team, it became clear that there was a real sense of family at The Workshop and the positive attitude of the staff also plays a big part of the inviting environment.
After our heavenly desserts it should have been time to leave but another bottle of Goru and Martin’s fabulous mix of Blondie’s Rapture said otherwise. Day soon turned into evening and as the Waterloo sunset approached, we were joined by our friends Jane, Rich, Helen and James. The four of them had driven all the way from West Kirby to be there with us after hearing about this secret sanctuary of wine, fine dining and eclectic music. I’m not sure how many hours we’d spent at The Workshop that Sunday, but when we left we felt as though we’d been to another world and felt like part of their family.
If you’re a lover of fine dining and music, a retreat to The Workshop is not highly recommended — it’s essential. Whether you attend one of the music events or simply wish to escape the pressures of the modern world, The Workshop is a safe haven where you can digress and dream the day away.
Following our visit, I spoke further with the owner, Steve Rice, to find out a bit more about the concept:
Urbanista: How did the name ‘The Workshop’ come about?
Steve: I was struggling for a name that defined not just the concept, but gave weight to all aspects of the business from the bar to the food and the environment. When I was in the South of France I found a little restaurant called L’atelier — French for The Workshop — and it just fitted in with how I saw the concept. A busy workshop of ideas and creativity with the main theme of small plates and wines by the glass. The name gave us an ability to grow with a strong identity.
Urbanista: Describe The Workshop in three words.
Steve: Raw, creative and modern.
Urbanista: What three small plates on the current menu are your favourites?
Steve: King Scallops, tempura saphire, cauliflower puree. Pigs Head, croquettes, pineapple chutney. Roast Cauliflower, celeriac puree, greens, pink grapfruit, fig molasses and flowers.
Urbanista: Music plays a big part of The Workshop. What music are you into?
Steve: That’s a tough one! It’s like asking what your favourite movie is! I’d say the one style that I’m really getting into at the moment is Jazz and all aspects of it.
Urbanista: What are the plans for the future for The Workshop?
Steve: Keep being creative, keeping it fresh and in the forefront of people’s minds. Pushing our events and bespoke nights, like our Jazz night on a Tuesday and our Modernism night which is the last Thursday of each month. For the restaurant I want Rosettes. We are currently also looking for sites for other concepts that I’m interested in setting up.
47 Crosby Road North
Tel 0151 329 2797
Images courtesy of Amanda Toovey