Jailbird, Birmingham

It’s going to be impossible to talk about Jailbird without mentioning it’s previous incarnation, so let’s get that giant lobster out of the room. Nosh and Quaff is dead. All three floors of it, from the top bar to the toilets nicked from the set of Saw in the basement. I was sad when I initially found out about it; I quite enjoyed it’s frivolities and it’s name summed up my ideal Friday night. In its place is Jailbird, a New York style concept that makes much better use of the vast space. Ground floor is now a  glorious looking cocktail bar, upstairs an homage to the Mid Town steak houses. The menu is bigger; more approachable with greater options. The emphasis is on large cuts of animal with prices to match.

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It seems a given that it is going to work. It’s a much more appropriate fit to the suits of Colmore Row and there is no need to get messy or wear a bib here. The service is super slick and the food already to a high standard, with my only issue that of portion size; something that I will come back to later. A disclosure at this point; I had an emergency at the dental practice a couple of hours before meaning the food I order is not what I had been eyeing up. It’s okay, I’m taking it as reason to return.

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My starter of scallops, bacon and sweetcorn is huge; a pile of coarse sweetcorn puree cut with a little lemon juice and plenty of chilli. The scallops are well timed to a lovely medium without being fleshy, though there is not enough of the salty bacon to reign in the sweetness. It is a dish that shines through its simplicity, the kind that makes me happy. I get to try some of the softshell crab, another generous portion. The crustacean is lightly battered with just enough heat from the cayenne, whilst the salad underneath makes the best of this seasons asparagus.

I wanted steak for dinner, and I am forced to watch my dining companion eat a large flat iron that cuts to a perfect medium rare. It is a serious bit of steak, that much I can tell you. I have black risotto with black garlic. It’s black on black, The Cure of culinary dishes. A dish the colour of my soul. The rice still retains bite, the black garlic adding an umami crash of fig-like sweetness once popped out of their coats. It’s rather good.

No one takes desserts because they are all taking food home. Portions are that big, and I expect in time that the steak sizes will shorten with the price. Sure it’s pricey in parts – mains range between £13.50 and £59.00 – but there is value to be found if you take the flat iron chicken from the bottom of that price range. How do I score it? In all honesty with a little difficulty; as I mention before I ate differently to how I intended, but lets be clear, everything I did eat was very nice. There is a lot to admire about Jailbird, from the gorgeous bar downstairs, good cocktails, a very affordable lunch menu and some very competent cooking. I enjoyed it and look forward to returning soon.

8/10

I was invited to dine at Jailbird

Transport provided by A2B Radio Cars

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