[Oxton, Merseyside] Fraiche

After a two year gap, it was good to be back at Fraiche. We had been booked to return in spring last year but, of course, Covid intervened. We’ve been coming for years and always enjoy Marc’s food. It’s interesting. It’s imaginative. And, more than anything, it’s delicious. Little has changed. There’s still the giant videos playing on the walls of the bar area. When you arrive, it’s restful ocean scenes – a bit like I imagine it is if you have a fish tank at home. When you come back for coffee, it’s changed to scenes from space, complete with appropriate sound track – Rocket Man, Space Oddity and the like. There’s snacks to be eaten here. Firstly, “Garden” a drink made from cucumber and whatever else Marc has picked from his allotment that day (he told us later that pretty much all the veg he uses comes from the allotment). There’s the usual spiced pecans and some British charcuterie. And a little seaweed and trout roe tartlet. And an onion and Parmesan foam.

When you’re seated at your table, there’s a final snack. A little waffle, each square filled with either feta or cherry tomato. Possibly the best of the snacks.

In what seems a new direction for Marc, several of the dishes lean towards East Asia. The first up is Chawanmushi – a Japanese set custard made from dashi, with the flavour of seaweed and a powerful smokiness from cubes of eel. It seems to be fashionable to serve sweetbreads in a deep fried crisp coating. My partner isn’t a great fan of them but reckoned these were the best ever tasted – a firmer texture than usual. It comes with a little maitake mushroom (Google later told me I’d better know this as “Hen of the Woods”) and a soy based dressing.

Somewhere round here, bread was served. It’s always a course in its own right at Fraiche. And it’s always top notch. This was a light as a feather brioche and there’s butter to slather on it, or olive oil to dunk it in. Both work.

Next, there was a cold “soup” made from crème fraiche. Chopped hazelnuts and a little, very peppery, watercress provide a texture contrast. Then, very seasonal white asparagus comes chopped, along with girolles and courgettes.

I think on every visit to Fraiche, it’s the fish course I’ve enjoyed most and it was no different this time. Sashimi grade tuna is very lightly seared but there’s no sense of rawness here. There’s some baby pak choi and a citrussy ponzu dressing.

For the final savoury course, there’s farmed Anjou pigeon. It’s a milder flavoured bird than wild ones you usually get in the UK. It comes, seemingly quite simple, with a slice of earthy morcilla, Jerusalem artichoke puree and an artichoke crisp. I thought it was lovely and only just missed out on being my favourite course. On the other hand, my life companion didn’t like the texture and left most of it (which, of course, meant I got seconds).

There’s then the first of three desserts. First up, an ice lolly. I do no justice to it by calling it a lolly. This is no ordinary lolly. This is a lolly shaped like lips. Ruby red lips made from Morello cherries, with a hint of lemon and, inside, a little mint chocolate. Then there’s a shot glass of a refreshing strawberry “soup”, topped with slice of earthy truffle. And finally, a honey, chocolate and pineapple mousse again not too sweet.

Well, I say “finally” but it wasn’t. As I mentioned earlier, we were back in the bar area watching the space video. And Marc appears. He presents a “planet”. A metal sphere which he opens to reveal a macaron each. With the cooking over for the evening, he’s able to chat for a little while, telling us he’s been playing with flavours while the restaurant has been shut. He’s soon back with a little tray of chocolate petit fours.

So, all that was left was to get the bill. This isn’t the sort of food we want to eat regularly but it is food we want to eat now and again. So, off we went into the cold and wet of a Merseyside June evening. With a little bag of cookie dough to bake the next day. I think we might have preferred the little cup of hot chocolate that we got one winter visit.


Sounds absolutely delicious!

wow. still never been …and its a good twenty minutes from mine…

Hardens reports that Marc is to permanently close Fraiche w.e.f end of September.

It’s the biggest loss to the region I can think of. Such creative food. I’ve been a fan since before he got his Michelin star and we both played on eGullet.



and I’ve never been… :frowning:

Emlyn - on his Facebook page, I’m told he speaks highly of Solo at Aughton. A quick look at the website suggests the menu construction is quite like Marc’s. We’ll give it a try in due course (unless you’ve been and want to warn me off)

No, not been. Had a quick look at the menu when it opened, but been vacillating quite heavily on the going out front since having covid, so not got my finger out as yet…

Well, well, well.

In spite of loads of press reports in the autumn that Fraiche was to close at the end of September, it didnt. Even though those reports were quoting the owner, Marc, saying it was closing. Feck knows what’s gone on.

So, yesterday, I was doing a bit of Googling to see what he’d moved on to, only to find that the restaurant was open. I suppose it may have been another dispute with his landlord as his email to me this morning says he might be looking for new premises.

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Right then. So, is it the last day of this month that I can try to book for May, then? No, 1st Feb - right ?

10am, 1 Feb for May. See you there.

Make sure you have the dates you can go next to you. And your credit card (to secure the table). Don’t mess about trying to consult with your other half - just book it.

The book will be closed by 10.15.

Afternoon John
I was on at 10.01
Nothing for May at all. All red. Something rotten in the State of Oxton… ?
Pre booking for regulars ?

Afternnon, mate.

Same issue here. I hit the button, literally as my PC said it was 10.00. Everything blocked out. I agree there’s something not entirely kosher going on but feck knows what. I don’t do Facebook but Mrs H is now "following " Fraiche to see if she can work out what’s what and, if nowt else, see if he advertises any cancellations.

Excellent work, Mrs H !
Keep me posted. detective :slight_smile:

Well, I was just getting organised to try again tomorrow. Checked out the website and Marc’s deleted it all, except for the home page (which says nowt). I’m concluding that he is now properly shut. Mrs H says there’s no news on Facebook, apart from him mentioning treats fro Mothers Day.

So, for my Michelin hit, I’m just going to have to rely on Northcote for a while (or do we splash out the £190 each for Mana)

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190 for the bully ? :slight_smile:
You been to Osma ? Thought the chef looked good on GBM, among an otherwise parlous NW showing…

We gave up watching GBM several series ago. Just stopped enjoying it. And, no, not been to Osma. Neither of us are keen on small plate meals (“proper” tasting menus excepted). Which means no Osma, no Erst and pretty much no anything new that’s opening in Manc. Small plates seem to have replaced posh burgers in the Rainy City.

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So, Mrs H reports that some punter posted on FB asking how to book. Marc replies saying that cancellations, etc will be announced on FB. Mrs H then posts again asking how to actually book as the website is down. Marc says “yes, there’s been problems”. Mrs H then replies that presumably there will be lots of tables available for June, seeing as the website wasnt available on 1/3 to book that month. A tad snide, but herself can do snide when necessary. No reply at all from Marc. It’s weird. I mean, if it was me and the webiste was down, I’d just be saying phone, email or FB me and I’ll get you booked in

Personally, I think he’s just telling porkies and the restaurant is shut but he’s not admitting it, perhaps even to himself,even though he made a big public statement to that effect back in autumn. It’s all very odd and I genuinely wonder if he might be unwell as a result of all the hassle.


Odd indeed. Glad Mrs H on the case though…and top marks for the semi snide comment :slight_smile:


Oddly, given the above, Fraiche retains its Michelin star (as announced on Monday).

And, equally oddly (seeing as you still only get a front page on the website, so there’s no way to actually book), Marc has this on his Facebook page:

"The first in Merseyside and the following 15 years retaining said Michelin star I’m still standing (just about ) cooking my heart out, passion is a very powerful fuel driving you through the ups and downs of restaurant life with self doubt, the pressure of survival and trying to create something different and hopefully enjoyable for the guests. I’m incredibly grateful to our friends,guests and staff for the support you have kindly shown me. Looking at this year ahead you will see some changes for Fraiche,businesses have to adapt in changing climates and mine is no exception though the dedication and passion will remain at it’s core and I very much look forward to cooking my heart out for you!


Fingers on the buttons on Saturday, then ? :slight_smile: