REVIEW: Birmingham’s New York seafood & steak restaurant, Jailbird
If you want to see the people who want to be seen or want to be seen yourself, head over to the very edge of Birmingham’s historic business district, Colmore Row, where you’ll find a stylish Edwardian baroque building bursting with a cosmopolitan vibe.
At the side entrance to this “speakeasy” style venue we stood on one leg, knocked 3 times and whistled the first few bars of “Jailhouse Rock” – it was then we realised we could walk straight in to the party writes Lisa Delahoy.
On entering we were immediately presented with this weeks’ promotional cocktail taster, an Absolut and citrus concoction, before we even had time to mention our dinner reservation. A friendly team member said we were in the cocktail bar and pointed us towards the lift, “the restaurant’s on the first floor”. At the other end of our short journey Mario, our host for the night, escorted us through this industrial New York loft inspired room to our table. We were next to the corner window, overlooking Victoria Square and the developing city beyond.
Jailbird is Birmingham’s only New York style seafood and steak restaurant, the menu is accordingly concise and the wine list abundant with opportunities to impress and entertain.
I chose the ham hock followed by lobster, the latter was recommended as “possibly the best in Birmingham.” Mr D settled on two of the three vegetarian options available to him, the giant cous cous and asparagus salad followed by spinach risotto.
As the room filled with young professional friends, couples and families among a haze of funk and soul, the clusters of Big Apple skyline shots on the bare brick walls wafted us into a “New York state of mind.”
I sank into my sauvignon when suddenly the ham hock arrived. A mound of shredded meat with a salted caramel twist, accompanied by a couple of chunks of freshly baked and grilled seeded bread. Alongside was a finely diced salad of apple, celery, spring onion and cucumber in a dreamy creamy dressing and a pot of whipped butter. The butter watched on, feeling superfluous, as I cleared the rest.
Mr Ds giant cous cous salad tumbled with soft pieces of squash and garden peas coated in a zesty, zingy dressing with just a hint of garlic and on top, a couple of chargrilled asparagus spears. It was a cold salad, which was a refreshing and tasty surprise – he’d geared up for a warm salad you see.
After a short rest we took on the might of the mains. My lobster came drizzled with a light mustard mornay, chunky chips, half a blackened lemon and a leafy garnish. It was tasty, lemony and I would have loved more of the mornay to dunk my chips in. I think I’d have to try a few more lobsters in Birmingham to see if it truly was the best. However the accompanying Albarino probably was the “world’s greatest seafood wine.”
Mr D was presented with a vivid emerald puddle of risotto, dotted with chunks of bright white cubed feta and tiny golden, crispy garlic nibs. It was creamy and smooth, rich and earthy interspersed with the salty cheese and those crunchy garlic rocks.
In hindsight we really were replete but didn’t want to miss the opportunity to round off the night with a naughty pud. I ordered the cherry sponge with cherry compote and cherry ice cream. He ordered the banana mess.
When my plate appeared with the monolith of yellowy sponge dotted with dark red cherries, drizzled with cherry sauce and a dollop of homemade cherry ice cream on the side, I realised I might have bitten off more than I could chew – literally. The sponge was light, thankfully, and I think a little more sauce would have helped it slide down. The velvety smooth, sweet and fruity muscat did that job perfectly.
The banana mess was a moderate bowl of textures and golden hues. Honeycomb, banana ice cream, banana puree, chocolate dots and sugary crunch. Probably a better choice.
After dinner we just had to go back to the cocktail bar to immerse ourselves in the full Jailbird experience. As we descended in the lift, music, giggles and voices rumbled up the shaft. We were back in the party where it all began. At the bar we tried a couple of the most popular cocktails – I had the gin fuelled 54th & Broadway and hubby had a virgin mojito.
The last time we were in New York, he proposed. This time he offered me his hand to keep me upright.