Come with me to taste the iconic Scouse dish at hidden gem Ma Boyle's in Liverpool

Ma Boyle's is tucked away in a charismatic corner of Liverpool and serves food to match the location.
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This week, I had the pleasure of being invited down to Ma Boyle's Alehouse and Winery to taste their famous Scouse dish. I might not be from Liverpool myself, but having a Scouse mother and nana I have been served the city's delicacy on numerous occasions.

For the initiated, let me explain the dish. Scouse is a stew made up of chunks of meat, potatoes, carrots and onions. The meat is typically beef or lamb, occasionally a variation of the two if the cook is feeling spontaneous.

The origin of Scouse is tied to 'lobscouse', which was a stew commonly eaten by sailors travelling in and out of ports, using whatever leftovers they had to make a dish. Liverpool is famous for its docks, so it is no wonder the dish evolved in the city.

Ma Boyle's is situated just off Water Street, tucked away in a charismatic corner next to the gardens of the Church of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas. The location is beautiful with the view of the iconic Liver Birds is just a short walk away.

Traditional Scouse stew served at Ma Boyles.Traditional Scouse stew served at Ma Boyles.
Traditional Scouse stew served at Ma Boyles.

It wasn't hard to decide on my plus one. My granddad is born and bred in Liverpool and was my first thought. It only took a quick phone call and the mention of Scouse to persuade him to join me.

The longevity of restaurants is a good indicator of the quality of food and service. Ma Boyles was first established in the 1870’s, moving to its present location in the 1970s. Bart, our server, was impeccable and knowledgeable about the Alehouse, with an answer to every question my granddad threw at him.

Inside, the venue offers a cosy and ambient setting, perfect for a date night or meet up with friends. Open morning, noon and night the eatery caters to all the needs of the customer, offering different delicacies throughout the day.  

The main event was, of course, the Scouse. Having enjoyed my family's version I was keen to taste a different version too. Ma Boyle's had stiff competition from my nana Jamo, who has been in the Scouse cooking business for as long as I can remember.  

The serving of Scouse pie at Ma Boyles.The serving of Scouse pie at Ma Boyles.
The serving of Scouse pie at Ma Boyles.

I opted for the Scouse Pie version of the dish with a puff pastry topping, side of mash, cabbage and carrots. Granddad Jamo chose the original dish, which consisted of a hearty bowl of Scouse, some bread to dip and a side serving of red cabbage. To accompany our meal, we both ordered a pale ale, which washed everything down splendidly and kept me hydrated throughout.

The flavours of this Scouse hit the taste buds immediately. I was surprised at how rich the flavours were and the meat which was succulent and tender. Granddad Jamo described it as “rich and continental tasting”. The vegetables were perfectly cooked, adding a nice addition to the meal, as well as acting as two of my five a day which mentally sustained me for the evening. The stew acted as a lovely compliment to the mash which was fluffy and smooth. It is safe to say that both our plates were cleaned dry at the end of the meal.  

For dessert I ordered sticky toffee pudding with Ice cream. My grandad chose the apple and rhubarb crumble with custard. Even after our hearty filling of Scouse, the desserts were served and eaten within minutes... again clearing our plates.

The desserts we chose to finish us off for the nightThe desserts we chose to finish us off for the night
The desserts we chose to finish us off for the night

All in all, Ma Boyle's did not disappoint. From the service to the setting, to the food, it was all fabulous, with the two of us already setting it as our destination for my graduation celebration with all the family.

Our verdict was that Ma Boyle's is up there with some of the best Scouse we've ever tasted.