Every now and then there is an independent that plucks at the heart strings of the independent Liverpool scene so much it is hard to show our admiration justice in literary form.
Hidden from the buzzing quarter that is Bold Street, on a road simply marked “Newington”, a maroon doorway in the Georgian style protrudes onto the pavement, next to which is a hand-painted sign boasting homemade vegetarian and vegan meals. These are the only indicators that you are in the vicinity of Liverpool’s number one vegetarian haven. Fortunately, once experienced, the Egg is never forgotten and repeat visits are a must. An elaborate vine leaf design, reminiscent of Grimm’s fairy tale illustrations, leads the way up a stairwell to a narrow double doorway in the same red-violet hue that gives access to the café – a large attic filled with wooden tables and all the ambiance of a monastery refectory.
An understated environmental ethos permeates the space. The menu is vegetarian, offering a wide selection of vegan meals to boot. Sensational spicy burgers in a rich tomato salsa, creamy houmous with pitta and delectable leek and cream cheese quiche form part of the everyday repertoire. There is also a variety of daily specials as diverse as lentil dhal, Mediterranean crumble and quorn satay – not options you will find in many restaurants. Each dish comes with a choice of salad or rice – or even both! Between meals, you can sit down and imbibe the atmosphere with coffee or a smoothie, accompanied by one of a range of homemade cakes, among which are the deliciously zesty lemon sponge with icing and smooth banana cake delightfully teamed with strawberry jam. None of this strong enough? Then you can even bring your own wine if you pay a reasonable corkage.
Ask why The Egg is dearly loved by its clientele and the unanimous response is undoubtedly “the atmosphere”. This is indeed the most striking aspect of The Egg, perfectly framed by its simple décor: white walls, brightly painted beams and a small stairwell, all of this providing a perfect space for local artists to exhibit their work in what is known as “Eggspace”. You can choose between a seat upstairs, a more intimate loft area overlooking the candlelit tables below, or one downstairs where you can admire the artwork, making you feel complicit in some kind of clandestine creative revolution. In keeping with the refectory feel, when seats get filled up, you are given a green card to share a table with other diners – yet far from feeling awkward, this often results in fascinating conversation, cementing the occasion with a festival-like communion.
Don’t be put off if you are not a vegetarian. It’s certainly not a prerequisite. The food is so well seasoned as to satisfy any tastes and the chilled out vibe more than compensates for the lack of meat on the menu, encouraging you to be experimental. In fact, many who frequent The Egg are not vegetarians – they just love a bohemian ambiance and continental hours where it’s “okay” to ask for a coffee at 10pm without the usual funny looks.
It’s possible to reserve a table at The Egg if you have a small party and the upstairs is available for private functions. In addition, The Egg plays host to an open-mic night on the first Monday of each month if poetry is your bag. For contact information on bookings and reservations, visit The Egg Café website. Keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter. Independent Liverpool cardholders will be happy to know they can get 10% off the bill all week.