What you make of Keith’s Wine Bar may depend on what you make of the sort of public establishments that are described as ‘lived in’. The rough-around-the-edges nature of Keith’s has always been part of a charm, though it’s debatable whether the rear of the restaurant or toilets – in particular – will meet with everyone’s approval these days. Open since 1976 it doesn’t appear as if it’s enjoyed so much as a lick of paint since then.
Keith’s offers simple pleasures – wine, a couple of choices of unlikely beers and cheap meals – but is rarely less than packed. It has an excellent, long-standing reputation in Liverpool but legitimate questions could be asked about whether the bar is relying on halcyon memories. We’ve sat in Keith’s as water pours in through the roof, put up with the frankly horrible toilets for years and endured some edgy Friday nights in the wine bar.
However it’s probably the last place you can get a drink on Lark Lane at night and it’s a picture of convivial ambiance on cold winters nights: the warm colour scheme and tall windows opening up a window on a welcoming public house. The booze is fairly cheap and the food is renowned for its wallet-friendliness. Potato wedges, baked spuds, pasta, sharing platters and nachos are all longstanding favourites – mostly for a fiver or less. There are several identifiable quarters to the wine bar’s roaming interior too and everyone has their favourite. They can be a great place for a boozy birthday bash, late night pint or a place to kindle a romance.
Keith’s can stake some claim to representing a lot of what Lark Lane is about, but the term bohemian has probably never rung more true – with all the attendant pros and cons that such a description represents – as it does when applied to Keith’s. It’s been undergoing long-overdue renovations recently, so by the time you read this it may have regenerated. Fingers crossed – despite everything a Lark Lane without Keith’s would be poorer for it.