The mere mention of steak is usually enough to get my attention. Add seafood into the mix and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker. A good surf and turf is a thing of beauty. The sort of meal you can go for on a date, with your folks, a business meeting… any excuse really. So when Paul Fulford invited me to join him & some of my fellow foodies (Laura aka Bite Your Brum & Charlotte Ruff) on a night at Jailbird to try their new steak and seafood menu, I didn’t hesitate to accept.
Jailbird has replaced Nosh & Quaff on Victoria Square with a markedly more upmarket New York style chop house concept. They’ve transformed the interior and the menu, making the whole place a lot more stylish and lot less messy.
The whole space has been flipped, made lighter and brighter, while retaining the beautiful original features of the building. The downstairs area is now a space to enjoy cocktails and drinks; the bar has been moved to the opposite wall, opening up gorgeous views over the Council House – arguably one of Birmingham’s most beautiful buildings.
Their Jail Thyme cocktail was fresh and herbaceous with plenty of gin, just what I needed on a warm evening after work.
The restaurant has been moved upstairs and also benefits from the new decor and those views. They’ve totally ditched the “lets get messy” theme and have gone for a much more sophisticated menu, with a wide selection of steaks, a smaller-than-I’d-hoped-for selection of seafood, plus some chicken and veggie options.
As well as the food, they’ve put some real effort into the wine choices, and the front of house manager is an expert who really looked after us for the evening. It had to be red wine for me so Laura and I shared a bottle of Tilia Malbec, which was light enough not to leave me with a hangover, but had plenty of ripe cherry flavours.
For starters I had the soft shell crab in a cayenne spiced batter, which was absolutely delicious with sweet crabmeat, crispy batter and a satisfying punch of heat. The scallops ‘n’ bacon served on a bed of sweetcorn puree and the black risotto with prawns also looked fantastic.
For my main, it had to be surf & turf – a 6oz spider steak served with half a lobster and hand-cut chips.
The spider steak was really tasty, cooked medium rare (how I like it) with a good amount of fat. The lobster was sweet and meaty with a fresh herb gremolata to cut through all the richness.
We shared a selection of sides between us, including creamed kale (which was divine) and flat iron potatoes with sour cream (which I actually preferred to the chips). The spiced cauliflower was also a highlight.
The portions were enormous, so ordering dessert probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, but although I couldn’t get near to finishing it, the cherry sponge was rather delicious.
For me, the concept of Jailbird is better than Nosh & Quaff, and more fitting for the location. That said, I do think both the portions and the prices could be smaller.
The starters range from around £6 – £11, while the steaks range from £26 to £55 with surf & turf coming in at £34, and although the portions are huge, I think if the meals were smaller and a touch less expensive, it could make this place more accessible as a regular dining venue, rather than somewhere reserved for more special occasions. The service, however, was exceptional, and I’ll definitely be back for more soon.
You can find Jailbird on Victoria Square in place of Nosh & Quaff. I was invited as a guest of Paul Fulford, who paid for my meal. My opinions are, as always, my own, and I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.