Writer Amanda David takes on a sold-out salad and squidgy brownie at LIV Restaurant, Belgravia.
LIV is a new all-day-dining restaurant/café headed up by Executive Chef Damien ‘Damo’ Monley, who made Sydney’s Flat White Café the hip place to be for anyone serious about their coffee – so, basically, everyone.
A semi-precious stone’s throw from the Saatchi Gallery and Sloane Square it is a welcome independent option; although, I confess to slightly mixed feelings prior to my visit. I was really looking forward to the menu but resigned to a room full of Belgravia’s beautiful people: taut, toned and suspiciously symmetrical. Thankfully, it turned out to be much more my kind of place.
LIV has a relaxed, welcoming vibe, genuinely lovely staff and a mixed demographic of diners – young families, old friends, couples, chatty huddles of twenty-somethings – oh, and a gentleman I am pretty sure was Jeremy King (of Corbin & King fame). No pressure then.
The 17-hour Wagyu Beef and Japanese Salad with Wafu Dressing (a traditional Japanese salad dressing made from vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and mirin) is a generous portion of slow-cooked beef topped with a huge tangle of fresh, crispy slaw-type salad, beansprouts and a fragrant hit of Thai basil. This sold out during our lunchtime visit and I can’t say I’m surprised – it’s fabulous.
We also enjoyed the Red Lentil Fritters, Pea Hummus, Herb Yoghurt, Baby Spinach, Sprout and Herb salad – with an optional extra of grilled halloumi because I love its squeaky, salty kick. Both these dishes are on Liv’s new dinner menu too, along with a couple of others I want to try: Mini Crab Brioche rolls with Café de Paris butter, Salt and Pepper Crispy Chicken, Gorgonzola Croquettes with Quince Ketchup.
They’re opening for Sunday roasts soon too, so there is that option to consider; then again there’s always breakfast, with Damo’s legendary Ricotta Hotcakes. (It can’t be just me that plans my next meal at a restaurant while I’m still eating my current one, right?)
Speaking of which, on to dessert. The Banoffee Banana Bread served with Whipped Mascarpone, Dulce de Leche and Banoffee Ice Cream and the Chocolate Brownie with Stracciatella Ice Cream, both made in house, were excellent. I say this as a brownie connoisseur, firmly in the ‘squidgy not cakey’ camp along with every other right-thinking person, and happily not disappointed.
The coffee – a bespoke blend flown in weekly from Naples, offered alongside local guest roasts – was a perfect end to the meal, although you can wander into the downstairs bar area and work your way from coffee through freshly-squeezed juices then on to cocktails if you prefer.
On a more personal note, it’s worth mentioning that Liv’s basement kitchen flooded three weeks after opening and had to be completely refitted. On the day of my visit, they had only just re-opened and so were pretty much in soft launch again, and dealing with a packed restaurant.
Damo Monley was everywhere – cooking, serving customers, wiping tables, checking on his staff – unfailingly positive and encouraging in a way that can only come with genuine passion. So, go and show LIV some love; I can guarantee you’ll get it back with interest.
Chatting Food Contributor: Amanda David
Freelance food writer, copywriter and blogger, dedicated to sharing news about London’s restaurants, bars, exhibitions and general wonderfulness. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.
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