Bold Street is known for food, Seel Street is known for bars and Duke Street is known for both.
As well as food and drink, it has also become known to the arts thanks to a certain Banksy rat and the Chinese community for turning an empty building into something beautiful. One building along the strip however, has seen turbulent times. Once originally a fine dining and gin offering known as Cedar Food & Drink, then turned into a gin hideout named Gin & Fable, both businesses sadly closed and the building has now evolved into something completely different.
Down The Hatch – Liverpool’s dirty veggie junk food bunker is where meat eaters and zealous veggies collide for the love of deep fried goodness. Started by friends Jay and Conrad, they originally wanted the place to be a cocktail bar but after going veggie they realised there wasn’t anywhere to have non-healthy veggie food and they decided to combine the ideas. Proper home cooked food but with a junk food twist – there’s nowhere like it in the city. A place where cutlery has no home, a place to eat like no one’s watching and a place you’ll probably need a nap after visiting. Yes, there are places with double-sided menus of similar food but this whole establishment is dedicated to the wonders of veggie junk food and you’ll struggle to find a table any day of the week.
We sat down with Conrad Sharp and Jay Baker, the boys behind the bunker, to discuss all things fried:
What were you doing before Down The Hatch?
Before DTH, I had been working on the hospitality industry for about 10 years in various places, mainly MOJO (I was there for about 5 years and GM for 2) and Almost Famous where I was GM for about a year immediately before DTH. Jay is my fiancé’s brother who moved up to Liverpool to live with us and he worked in a few places including MOJO before living in Australia for a year working in some top cocktail bars and helping open a restaurant/bar over there.
How did the idea for the theme come about?
When he came back we decided we wanted to open our own bar – however I’d recently turned vegetarian and we decided to go for the junk food veggie element after me complaining (hungover) that there was no where delivering that sort of food for veggies/vegans in Liverpool.
We were friends with our head Chef Scott from a previous job and he had actually made me some ‘junk food style’ veggie foods before and we decided there was a real gap for that sort of food, whilst also being able to eat it in a chilled, comfortable space instead of a typically ‘junk food’ setting (if that makes sense).
Inspiration came in the form of every meat serving restaurant and just trying to emulate that into a veggie/vegan way. Our goal was to offer that to veggie and vegans whilst giving meat eaters an accessible menu to try something new.
What’s the best selling thing on the menu?
In terms of best sellers, the Satan’s Zinger burger is one of our most popular. A Spicy burger with locally made Howl at the Moon sauce it was made to be similar to a certain fast food chains burger! Other than that the cauliflower 5 ways is very popular as a sharer of fries cauliflower with 5 different toppings, making a usually dull vegetable a lot more interesting!
What’s it like to be an independent business in Liverpool these days? With the likes of Colu and us helping?
Yeah being an independent and being involved in all local schemes is always what we wanted to do, the push both guys have given us has been amazing and we really appreciate it.
Address: Basement, 62 Duke Street, Liverpool L1 5AA