Whilst back up north in Southport visiting the Dobson clan instead of returning to the old haunts we decided to try a new restaurant, The Gastro Bar & Grill that had just opened in Birkdale village. First impressions of the place itself seemed good, a welcoming front of house, a bar at the front and a modern and stylish restaurant. The menu is rather an odd mixture of cuisine from around the world but it’s certainly aiming to be fine dining.
I wasn’t blown away by my starter of prawns pil pil, it was okay but certainly nothing to write home about and at £7.95 I’d expected it to be spot on. Sis, however, raved about her starter, a soft shell crab salad with a wasabi dressing. The subtle balance of flavours was just right and the wasabi didn’t overpower the dish which it could so easily have done.
On to the mains… All I can really say of mine is that it was edible. A lamb shank which the meat should have just been dropping off the bone but clearly hadn’t been slow cooked for long enough, served up with chunks of feta and olives and a little ramekin filled with moussaka. Sadly it just didn’t work and the overall dish wasn’t more than the sum of its parts. Cous opted for chicken breast with a goats cheese sauce and asparagus, it looked rather insipid when it arrived and she was rather underwhelmed by its taste as well.
Would pud save the day? For me it was apple panacotta, Magners jelly, crumble, and toffee fudge ice cream. I envisaged a little taster of each element, perhaps served up in individual shot glasses, oh how wrong I was.. It was all layered in one dish and the portion size was enough to feed an entire family. That wouldn’t have been so bad if it had tasted half decent but after one mouthful I could stomach no more, there was a vast amount of the crumble topping and the taste and consistency of the other elements of the dish simply didn’t work together. I can honestly say that it was one of the worst desserts I have eaten in a long time. Sis and cous fared a little better with their choice of peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake but it was no gastronomic success. Too much peanut butter in the mix meant that after a few mouthfuls it became too sweet and cloying.
A final gripe is that as the evening progressed this certainly didn’t seem to be a restaurant with bar, more the other way round. After trying to shout across the table to my cousin whilst The Black-Eyed Peas were hollering “..tonight’s gonna be a good night” I decided enough was enough and asked a waiter if they could turn the music down. And to be fair they did, for all of five minutes before someone turned the volume back up.
Thankfully the restaurant didn’t manage to spoil a great evening with wonderful company, but the overall experience was certainly more ghastly than gastro. I’d strongly recommend that they throw in the towel on the restaurant front and turn the whole place into a bar – eat here at your peril.