Small Plates, The Indecisive-Diners Delight

By Sophie's Scran

Is anyone else a totally indecisive diner? On a recent trip to Liverpool, I struggled to make my mind up on where to go for lunch. So, I hit up #AskTwitter, and got some great suggestions. Even the lovely guys at Independent Liverpool got back to me.

Bold Street was my destination, there was no debating that. Since my uni days, this place has seen an absolute transformation. Back in the day (I’m talking 2007, yep, I’m that old) the highlight of this city centre road - I kid you not - was Mr Chips. Nowadays, it's bustling with vibrant independents left, right and centre, from Miyagi's, to Pancho’s to Bakchich. Each offering unique culinary journeys across cultures, countries and cuisines; they really don’t make the decision-making process any easier.

Maray is at the top of the street, and is somehow understated in comparison to its bolder neighbours. Monochrome mosaic tiles on the doorstep set the tone well, welcoming you into a quaint, cute little eatery with a sophisticated vibe. The kind of place you could take mates, dates, your Grandma or a work client you were hoping to impress (but not obviously so).

The main offering is small plates and cocktails, which is perfect for me, because - not sure if I mentioned - I’m indecisive. Accompanied by my mother, grandmother and sister, we got to work analyzing the menu. Mum, Grandma and I opted for the lunch offer - three plates for a reasonable £12.50. Hannah, the pasta obsessive, had her eyes on the ‘large plate’ titled Lucy’s pasta Arrabiata. Served with roasted veg, homemade ragu and garlic herb whole wheat sourdough, all for £8. Excellent value.

Being undecided, or, as some would say ‘spoilt for choice’ has its perks in a place like this. We had nine dishes to share between three of us, so we really went to town, doubling-up where necessary. Two of the sea bass, two of the lamb koftas, and everything else just fell into place. Plenty of fish, meat and veg options to choose from. Each dish arrives as-and-when, meaning a steady flow of food to the table: another dream come true for a bunch of gluttonous foodies.

On to cocktails and mocktails. The non-alcoholic Nada Colada was a sweet and coconutty delight, and the Safe Business was zingy, refreshing with a hint of sweetness too. My mother and Grandmother concurred that the Aperol Spritz were some of the best they’d had. And trust me, these wild girls have had their fair share of Spritz...

Highlights from the small plates scenario include the plump and fresh falafel, served with a delicious tabbouleh. We wished we’d ordered two of this dish. The sea bass, seasoned and cooked to a crispy-skinned perfection. The juicy, chunky lamb koftas had tons of flavour and went really well with the silky, smooth hummus. And finally, THAT cauliflower. I’ve never tasted such a delicious way to serve cauli before, and it’s seriously got me questioning my cauliflower cheese and cauli rice bowls. The tahini, yogurt, harissa and fresh herbs come together in the most epic taste sensation and the almonds and pomegranate add wonderful texture. Next time, I am not sharing this with anyone. That, I have decided.

As for the big plate; the pasta Queen was more than content with its freshness (we literally watched chef Lucy make it from start to finish and it arrived at the table piping hot). The hint of spice, veggies and garlic sourdough were all epic. Even if the pasta was a little al-dente for Hannah’s taste.

As an indecisive diner who gets easily overwhelmed by endless great choice, small plates really help me with this ‘problem’. “Why have one, when you can have three?” Has sort of become my new motto. Tapas always was my favorite way to dine, but with more and more ‘small plate’ eatery options, like Railway Cafe in Alderley Edge, The Refuge in Manchester and of course, Maray in Liverpool, I’m in love with the concept more than ever.

To find out more about Maray, including their new restaurant on Allerton Road, visit their website or give them a follow on Twitter.

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Photos: © Sophie's Scran