The old Bird Cow Fish site has been transformed into a ‘dog friendly’ restaurant. Translation: you can tie Rover or Doctor Kisses or Captain Pugwash up outside but it’s not so friendly that you can actually invite them inside for a hand of poker – more’s the pity.
In putting together the menu, the kitchen seems to have taken a stab at putting together a grab bag of recent trends. Here’s your food in a jar. Here’s your food on a board. Here are your share plates. Where this falls down is not having waiters say, “Even though it might not be clear from the menu, everything you’re ordering looks similar. With toast.”
So there we are sitting with our collection of large, oddly cumbersome boards and little jars, each containing some sort of spread or chutney or cured meat, each with a side of toast, and each garnished with leaves that don’t appear to have had much to do with dressing.
The potted duck garnished with an undressed salad tucked inside the jar is a bit fridgey, and not interesting or juicy enough to us to inspire sticking the knife back in the jar for a second go. Pork scratchings (inexplicably listed as "crispy soft crackling" on the menu) aren’t so much crisp as hard.
From the chunky, clunky seating to the huge unwieldy tables (no doubt to accommodate those chunky, clunky boards) there’s not much going on here that’s conducive to us having a really fun time. Service is the opposite of seamless. The floor team don’t really seem to know much about what it is they’re supposed to be selling. Please stop asking us if everything is OK. If you keep asking, we might have to actually tell you.
It’s not a menu devoid of wins. Flank steak with horseradish cream – on a board – is straightforward satisfaction, and kudos to the chefs for picking a more interesting cut. The salad of shredded iceberg and grated pecorino lacks textural interest. The thick-cut chips, unfortunately, are more wedge than chip and forgettable. Skip them in favour of a lovely little salad of beetroot and goat’s cheese made crunchy with little hunks of gingerbread.
A bit less concept and a little bit more from-the-heart cooking would go a long way here. Even as is, a really informed, experienced floor team could paper over the cracks and make Rainford Street somewhere we’d gladly get a bit more social. Right now, this is not that team.