Restaurant review - Madre, Albert Dock, Liverpool
PUBLISHED: 13:32 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:32 24 February 2020
Authentic Mexican food comes to the Albert Dock
The first time I tried authentic tacos I'd arrived at the Mexican border from Belize. I was hot and tired and starving and there was a roadside shack where two rotund women were churning out soft-as-butter tacos with crispy chorizo and fried fish, piled with zesty guacamole, pickled red onions and a few splodges of chilli sauce. Right there, sat amid the cacophonic traffic, I realised this was going to be one of those life-changing memorable meals, and that Mexican food back in the UK was an embarrassing imitation; this is a cuisine so varied, so fresh, and created with timeworn techniques that since 2010, it's UNESCO-protected. It is not stodgy burritos and fajitas - that's your carb-loaded, cheese-stuffed TexMex from the States. Cue the buzzed-about opening of Madre on the Albert Docks, from the bright sparks behind Liverpool restaurants Belzan and Volpi, and London street food spot, Breddos Tacos. Everything about it is bold and brash - even the neon pink lights beaming above the door. But whilst there's a real sense of fun swirling around the place - the staff are young and smiley, the playlist is loud and dancey - the menu is measured and experimental with clever little touches. Plates come as and when they're ready: start with the guacamole and a margarita and order two or three types of taco. The Baja fish came loaded on black, silky tacos, with a smothering of jalapeno aioli and a fresh salsa; chicken pibils used slow-cooked chicken topped with habanero, orange and some gorgeously acidic pickled red onions; and the birria de res tacos held together brisket, beef consommé and black beans. We also shared a standout tender hogget shoulder, rubbed with adobo and served in blackened banana leaves, which we forked off the bone and wrapped in soft tacos. Feel like splurging? There's a carnivorous rib eye with burnt spring onion, jalapenos, beef jus and bone marrow. Drinks-wise, it's all about the cleverly crafted cocktails with a Hispanic edge - tequila features heavily and the margaritas went down way too easily. Puds sounded too much on the sweet side for me - so we swerved them in a favour of an earthy café madre, their take on an espresso martini with an added splash of a mezcal. Madre, my friends, is riding that Mexican wave with perfect symmetry. I'll be heading back for that rib eye.
Madre, Unit 6 Atlantic Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool
0151 709 4152