Delifonseca in Liverpool

What do you think of when you picture the North Western city of Liverpool? I assume that not many would associate it with quality, organic and locally sourced food. The regeneration and redevelopment of Liverpool City Centre, which began with the Liverpool One shopping and dining complex, has moved the city forward in leaps and bounds in recent years.

Liverpool has undergone a food revolution over the last decade and things are a far cry from the city’s once barren restaurant scene. The Albert Dock, the largest group of Grade I listed buildings in Britain is now home to a plethora of bars and restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines. Some of the city’s most stylish bars and restaurants are situated here, in a magnificent waterfront setting providing a great introduction to the city. With a record number of entries in The Good Food Guide, a more food conscientious population is definitely on the rise here.

A direct result of this growing interest in good food is a growth in artisan skills and specialised food retailers providing the highest quality ingredients sourced in and around the area.

Delifonseca has been a major part of this movement, with the first branch opening on Stanley Street in the city centre in 2006. Describing themselves as ‘passionate about all things food related,’ the Fonseca family’s story began when they decided to open a delicatessen that epitomised the kind of place they themselves wanted to shop and eat in. Their vision of the perfect deli was ‘an Aladdin’s cave stuffed full of tasty goodies that help turn the everyday into a plateful of pleasure’.

They have subsequently opened a second branch on the waterfront, Delifonseca Dockside. Full service cheese and charcuterie counters make the customer feel like they are entering a European delicatessen and a wine and spirit specialist is also on hand to help select the perfect beverage to accompany a food purchase.

There is a rustic farm shop feel about the deli. Collaboration with Broughs Butchers and John Dickinson greengrocers has proved successful in bringing locally sourced meat, vegetables and fruit for customers as well as the chefs that cook for the two adjoining restaurants, both at the Stanley Street and the Dockside branches.

A blackboard announces the daily changes of menus. Spicy pork and fennel sausage with duck confit, chorizo and morcillo and haddock fillets with a crispy crumb, smoked salmon butter, chunky chips and dressed leaves are a few of the dishes on offer, and the offering changes according to the seasons.

The restaurants also offer a range of sandwiches, soups and cakes with meals also available to take away. Delifonseca has a very active events and offers programmes from Mother’s Day Brunches (featuring champagne cocktails, smoked salmon and warm croissants with raspberry and vanilla jam) to a Valentine’s dinner for two to take home (trio of terrines, free range Goosnargh chicken leg with truffle stuffing or chocolate toffee tart). Events create a community hub, a focal point for Liverpool foodies to participate and get involved.

Veg Out is held on the second Thursday of every month at the Stanley Street branch and serves a feast for vegetarians. A three course set menu of seasonal produce, all inspired by a chosen theme is prepared.

Also held at the Stanley Street branch is the monthly Cookbook Club. A particular cookbook is chosen and uploaded on the website, and members of the club select a dish from that cookbook that they would like to recreate. An online spread sheet is provided so no two members make the same dish. The idea is that the members create the dishes they have chosen in their own homes on the Sunday and then bring them to Delifonseca on Monday evening to share amongst other members.

Every month a different region is chosen and a Spice Club menu is themed around the spices commonly used in that region.‘Goan Spice Club,’ featured Panjim mussel soup, Goan fish curry and Bebinca cake. Held on the last Friday of each month, spices from around the world are tasted and celebrated and if a table is booked between 5pm and 6pm, a complimentary bottle of wine is also provided.

Proprietor Candice Fonseca won two awards at the Women in Business Awards 2012, winning both the ‘Retail Business Woman of the Year,’ and ‘Business Woman of the Year.’ She was born in Hong Kong and raised in Bury, both cities famous for their flourishing food markets. Liverpool residents voted in their thousands for their favourite restaurant of the year and Delifonseca was the winner at the Liverpool Food and Drink Awards 2012.

The Guild of Fine Food awarded the Dockside branch the honour of North West “Deli of the Year”. Dockside was also the winner of the ‘Taste Restaurant of the Year’ in the Merseyside Tourism Awards.

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