Please note, Jailbird closed permanently in January 2019.
The Lasan Group have added a new venue to their repertoire, in the form of New York seafood and steak restaurant, Jailbird. Located in the building once occupied by Nosh & Quaff, Jailbird is like Nosh & Quaff‘s older, more sophisticated sister.
New York vibes
There’s still plenty of enormous meaty dishes and whole lobsters to get your teeth into, but the space has had one hell of a makeover. The bar is now downstairs, with the restaurant on the first floor. The windows have been uncovered and the bar flipped to the opposite wall, making the whole place filled with light and revealing gorgeous views across Victoria Square. It feels upscale, but unpretentious, with warm leather seating, a bar studded with half wine bottles and lots of lighting. Upstairs somehow feels twice the size it used to, and I can’t quite figure out that witchcraft. The only downside is the epic trek to the loos; they’re still in the basement, along a tunnel, which is not really ideal when you’re dining on the first floor. Take the lift down instead of the stairs!
Cocktails and wine
My dining companions for the evening are Paul Fulford and Helen of Positive Fridays. We gather in the bar downstairs and peruse the cocktail menu. It’s sizeable, but grown-up, with barely a whisper of the sugary concoctions that once graced the bar top. I order a Jail Thyme (£9) which is refreshing and herby, with plenty of gin.
With dinner, Paul selects a nice bottle of light red, and orders us a glass of Muscat each with dessert. The wine list is decent, with lots of options to pair with steak and fish, and our waitress is clearly knowledgeable about the list, happily making suggestions for what will pair best with our food.
Shockingly for me, I stay entirely with a seafood theme for the evening. I start with Scallops ‘n’ Bacon (£9.90) which arrive topping a corn and herb puree. The scallops are large and meaty. Unfortunately, they’re just on the cusp of being a touch rubbery, but barely, and the flavour is so sweet, I’m willing to forgive entirely. I’ve seen others suggest more of the salty bacon is needed, but mine arrives with plenty, so that feedback has clearly been taken on board. The corn is creamy and comforting, and pairs well with the salt from the bacon.
Next, I order the Creole Sea Bass (£19.80) with a side of Hand-Cut Chips (£3.50). The sea bass is ludicrously enormous, like a side of whale on a plate. The skin is crispy, with the fish inside soft and beautiful. It falls into flakes at the touch of a fork, and is delicately flavoured. I would have liked a little more heat from the creole marinade, but the fish itself has amazing flavour. The accompanying kale salad is a surprising highlight, with plenty of crunch and fresh flavours. The chips are very well-seasoned and are immensely fluffy inside.
Finally, as if I haven’t eaten enough, I try the Cherry Sponge which comes with cherry ice cream. Unfortunately it also comes with a huge amount of coconut piled on top, which I somehow completely missed on the menu. I am not a fan of coconut, but once I knock it off, the sponge is delicious. The sponge itself is light, with lots of sharp cherry flavour. The portion size is excessive though. Half the amount I am served would be ample.
Our waitress is friendly and helpful, making suggestions of her personal favourites on the menu and the best drinks to pair with it. Service times are ideal, prompt but not rushed, which makes me happier than is probably normal.
While I enjoyed Nosh & Quaff, that style of american excess is available at plenty of places around the city, so I think Lasan is very smart to move to a more upscale experience. The venue is gorgeous, and the menu is well-crafted. I really struggled to order as it all sounded so good, so I will have to go back to test out some other options.
I do think the portion sizes are excessive. I like a generous portion, but none of us ate more than about half of our main courses. I understand Jailbird are happy to pack up leftovers for you, but I imagine they must be wasting an awful lot of food. The price points do match the giant portions, putting this in the ‘special occasion’ camp for me, rather then a week night dinner. Jailbird is definitely worth a visit though. Just make sure you’re hungry before you go.
I was a guest of Paul Fulford in exchange for honest review. All words, images and opinions are my own (except the one marked otherwise, obviously). Prices correct at the time of writing.