Look up at the stack of shelves to the left of Writer’s Block – Lark Lane’s newest eaterie and cocktail bar – and you’ll see an old spirit bottle. It’s full of old lemon rinds and sugar, slowly transforming into a zingy simple syrup to be used in cocktails and recipes. It might seem a small detail but it goes a long way to explaining the ethos behind this cosy restaurant that’s going to be your new favourite place on the Lane.
Lark Lane is hardly short of bars and restaurants but Writer’s Block is noticeably different from the off. It’s tiny for starters, but there’s a dedication to good, simple food and drink – and if you’re planning on getting some work done out of the house you’re not going to think twice about heading to Writer’s Block. It’s a cosy, friendly place and that’s no coincidence, according to one of three founders (and friends), Brendan Soprano, who founded the Lark Lane cocktail bar.
“The name was born out an idea to create a place that’s so chilled and relaxed, so free of stress and strain that you’re in a position to write and be creative,” says Brendan, who tends bar and runs Writer’s Block along with co-founders Jordan Brooks and Nick Dargan.
“The idea was to take the experience you get in other venues, lounges and other places in town. But they were too loud for us; not intimate at all. If you want to come into somewhere like this place you wanna give off the vibe that it’s more of a guesting experience than a customer experience, you know?
“So everyone is treated with same attention and respect as everyone else is. It’s never too busy that you can’t sit down, and we can take five minutes with the guests to see how they are.”
“I remember asking them ‘I’ve got an idea, shall we do it?’ and they said yes – it was all very straightforward,” he laughs, as he recollects how the three came together.
The Writers Block trio were aware of Lark Lane’s growing food and drink offering, but Brendan isn’t concerned about competition. For him Writer’s Block is different enough to add to the offering of the south Liverpool highlight.
“You’ve got restaurants, you’ve got bars, you’ve got pubs but there was a seat around that dinner table that was missing something, something that I’m surprised hasn’t been done until now. Our aim basically is to create a niche without impacting anyone else; to be part of the lane rather than competing against them.”
“We wanted to make the smallest ripples in the pond that we could whilst getting friendly with everyone. So I’ve used ingredients from people within the area, grown in their back garden, to make a cocktail for a cocktail competition.”
Ah, the cocktails. Perhaps more than anything its the dedication to drinks – alcoholic or not – that sets Writer’s Block apart.
“It’s sort of an idea of enhancing people’s perception of what spirits are. Spirits such as tequila and absinthe can be off-putting to some people so we’ve used them as small amounts in drinks to try and simulate the base flavours and make them more approachable to people.
“We’ve got a few beers, but still I was a bit stressed out that the drinks would come secondary to the food.
While we reckon Writer’s Block shouldn’t have any concerns on that front, the food is no afterthought here and, despite the small premises, there are some big flavours on offer if you’re in search of sustenance with plates of cold meat, relishes and pickles. Again for Brendan it’s all about the L word.
“We use a local supplier, as local as we possibly can, which can mean Merseyside but we also source ingredients from the Lake District if we can’t source it from Liverpool.
“Jordan makes mustard mayonnaise as well as pickling his own eggs, making his own piccalilli jam – we want to make as much as we can ourselves.”
It’s at this point that a long detour into citrus and a shred love of Citrus: Recipes that celebrate the sour and the sweet. Brendan reaches up to a nearby shelf and offers us a hefty jar, full of lemon rinds steeped in sugar to create a syrup for the Writer’s Block cocktails (a fiver on Mondays).
Again we’re reminded of how different Writer’s Block to the rest of Lark Lane and wonder how we’ve lived without it. Brendan seems to agree.
“I knew it was missing something, but I didn’t know it was this, and now it’s here.”
Writer’s Block26 Lark Lane,