When Simon Shaw set his heart on opening a restaurant in Liverpool, he knew what the key ingredient to success would be, and El Gato Negro Tapas has it in spades.
“It is 100% about getting the right people working for us,” explains the Chef Patron and Creative Director of El Gato Negro. “It’s the people who make or break a business, whether they’re front of house, being the face of the company to customers, or working away in the kitchen or behind the bar, making the food and drink which keeps people coming back. I knew that if I could find the right people and convince them to work for us, then we’d make it work.”
It certainly seems to be a success so far. The acclaimed tapas restaurant which, under Simon’s watchful eye, has attracted widespread critical acclaim, is already catching the eye of visitors and locals. The restaurant has received recognition from Hardens, Michelin, The Times and The Good Food Guide, and this year, was awarded a prestigious Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand for the third year running.
The Liverpool site, in the grandeur of Exchange Flags, is the latest restaurant for the group, which started in Ripponden and then opened in Manchester. There’s plans for a Leeds site later in the year too.
“Liverpool is such a beautiful city,” says Simon. “It’s somewhere I’ve been watching for a long time, hoping maybe at some point we could open here. But I know it’s a hugely competitive market here. Anyone coming in really has to be at the top of their game.”
El Gato Negro Tapas: A restaurant for all seasons
Set across the one open floor, El Gato Negro Liverpool offers dining space for 240 guests. Signature dishes include morcilla scotch eggs with mushroom duxelle, apple purée and aioli; mini Catalan chorizo with Aspall cider; chargrilled octopus, new potatoes, capers, shallots and aioli, and Padrón peppers with Halen Môn sea salt.
Solo diners or those simply looking to get closer to the action will love the chef’s table, where they can watch Shaw’s award-winning team at work on the charcuterie counter.
As well as the food offer, there’s an impressive bar list at El Gato Negro classic cocktails, beers and a select range of Spanish wines and sherry.
“Liverpool is a food-loving city, and we wanted to get the offer exactly right,” says Simon. “We worked really hard to get the right team in place, then we got to know the local scene, trying out lots of places on Castle Street and Bold Street, meeting the independent traders at the Baltic Market. We had a really good time doing it too – Liverpool is a brilliant destination for anyone who loves to eat and drink.”
With views out on to the historic square it’s the perfect place to enjoy a quick bite at lunch.
Simon enthuses: “Call me biased but Exchange Flags is really special, when we were introduced to the site, we knew it was for us. It’s a beautiful building steeped in history and has the most incredible features. Finding the right heritage building in the right location is key to that and in Liverpool we’ve found both.”
El Gato Negro, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, https://www.elgatonegrotapas.com/.