Bird & Beer – recently opened in the middle of Beverley – is the sort of place I usually dislike intensely. They have taken over a delightful building and (basically) painted it black; they use the word “dirty” on the menu; they offer “slaw”; they serve food in wooden boxes; they only have a Facebook page and no website; they do cocktails that look and smell like your nana’s bathwater; etc, etc, etc. However, because they’d been to a similar chicken-based enterprise in London and enjoyed it, I took my two kids to Bird & Beer last Saturday afternoon and the three of us had a perfectly pleasant hour-and-a-half, eating surprisingly decent food. Me, obviously, through gritted teeth.
Bird & Beer have taken on the building that used to be a bank, that became Farthings, the passable-but-not-much-more restaurant that vacated the building last year. The best thing about Farthings was that they retained some of the original bank-y features and decor but Bird & Beer have stripped everything back, gone mad with a bucket of dark grey paint, put in cheap furnishings and drawn weird things on the walls. They’ve at least kept the domed ceiling and surrounding coving, but that’s about it. I’m finding it hard to forgive them but it’s happened now. The brains behind the enterprise is Alonzo Goulbourne, an established East Riding restaurateur whose other venues (Roots, Fish & Chip Kitchen, Aunt Bibby’s) I generally either like or find something in which to admire. So I’m happy to cut him some slack on this one and overlook the decorative desecration on display.
Alonzo’s plan on opening the restaurant was to offer chicken dishes matched with the best on-tap and bottled beers, and that he’s done. Aside from one or two options, the menu is jam packed with more than a dozen ways to pick your poultry, from simple roast to burgers to salads to pie. All the birds are locally-farmed and – judging from the dishes we sampled – the meat is as good as I’ve ever had. There are also various intriguing sides, mostly culled from the American Deep South. The beer selection is excellent, too, with enticing options from all over the world.
My daughter loves wings and the South Korean yang-yum variety on offer went down a storm. They are boneless and sweetly sticky and come with a lot of chillies. Not a problem as, unlike me, my kids are heat-resistant. They eat wasabi peas like Smarties, the freaks. I found myself nicking more off her plate than my daughter was happy about as they were delicious.
I ordered the Avocation salad, which overcomes its malaprop-esque punning name by being hearty and (probably) a healthier option. It has chickens strips, bacon shreds and chunks of – hence the name – avocado. I’d have liked more imaginative veg on the plate (cherry tomatoes haven’t been innovative since the 70s) but it was good enough to make me briefly stop stealing wings and enjoy.
My lad had a small crate containing two pieces of buttermilk chicken, sweet potato fries and corn on the cob. The chicken is soaked overnight in buttermilk so it’s lovely and juicy. I thought the pieces had been chargrilled a little too black, as they were slightly acrid; he loved it, though, mainly because the sides of the box made his meal easier to defend from invading chip thieves, who may or may not have regretted ordering salad.
The desserts (no menu, just a memorised list from the staff, who are mainly made up of hardworking lasses with product knowledge and cheerful attentiveness that belies their youth) are either waffles, cookies or milkshakes. The waffles I had were slathered in banana, cream, ice cream and syrups of varying luminous hues. Despite the sizeable portion, I forced myself to finish. I’m nothing if not committed to my role. And besides, no way were the kids getting my leftovers. They both had Oreo milkshakes, which were perfectly thick and covered with bits of biscuits and such. A main and a dessert here should be ample for any normal human being. This isn’t a three-course sort of place.
It won’t break the bank either. We spent just over £50 for six courses and a couple of drinks each. Not bad.
I’m left in the awkward position of enjoying somewhere I dislike. Never a comfortable feeling. While I may find many elements of Bird & Beer annoying, it’s a decent way of spending an hour or so enjoying the sort of food that is primarily made to be enjoyed. It’s as unpretentious as that, really. I won’t be changing my thinking on the things that annoy me, but I will try to ignore them for the sake of my kids and a decent bit of nosebag.
• Bird and Beer, 3 North Bar Within, Beverley, HU17 8AP. 01482 871151. Open: Monday to Thursday and Sunday, 12-11pm; Friday to Saturday, 12pm-1am.
DRINKS SELECTION 4/5