Cornwall LivingIssue #71
Feeling a little peckish
We pay a visit to Cornwall’s first gourmet fried chicken restaurant, Beer and Bird, in St Ives.
With our table booked for 7.30pm we arrive a bit early and take a welcome stroll though St Ives on a lovely, calm and picturesque evening to work up an appetite. The tide is high and the sea like glass as there’s hardly any wind – a blessing following the recent snow and gales.
“It’s so nice to find a restaurant that offers a comfortable setting with exceptional food.”
Set right in the heart of St Ives, we find the entrance to Beer and Bird up a small steep lane, just off the main street. Welcomed by our lovely waitress, who is very quick to greet us, we are shown straight to a cosy booth table. We eagerly peruse the quirky, brown paper menu that is full of locally sourced craft beer options – a truly individual offering and in honesty a very welcome change.
The bar and restaurant is filled with couples and families enjoying and I soon realise that the food is not the only star of the show here. The bar is as much of an attraction as the restaurant. It seems it’s a true favourite with individuals living and staying near by. Easy to understand why, when there is over 100 varieties of beer alone on offer, in bottle, cask and keg. Not to mention the hand-crafted ciders and the back bar featuring over 30 gins, 20 rums and 40 whiskies!
Once we are settled, our waitress is immediately on hand to offer advice on what we might like best and steers my dining partners towards a strong traditional Cornish Scrumpy – 7.6% to be exact – but advises them jokingly to go steady! Beer and Bird prides itself on its knowledge when it comes to locally-sourced Cornish beers and ciders – it definitely broadens my understanding.
On to the food… we are spoilt for choice and I am keen to see whether this family-run restaurant is going to live up to its reputation. For starters, we share the ‘Fully Loaded Nachos’ – made up of homemade tortilla chips topped with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos, mozzarella and cheddar cheese aplenty! A portion I am glad I am sharing amongst the three of us. The men tuck into some ‘Crispy ‘shrooms’ that certainly live up to their name. Both dishes ooze flavour and we’re feeling quite full already.
For mains two of us play it a little safer, choosing the ‘Classic Bird Burger’ whilst the other goes all out with the ‘Smokestack Lightening Burger’, a favourite for those who love bacon, smoked cheese and barbeque sauce. The mains arrive and it’s safe to say that along with the starter, the quirky presentation and flavours are second to none – a definite win-win for anyone wanting a comforting plate of crispy fried chicken and chips coupled with plenty of style and fresh flavours.
Upon finishing our huge plates of chicken, I am keen to speak with the waitress and learn more about their recipes and what makes them so unique. I should have guessed, but along with their locally-sourced craft beers, they also source their Cornish free-range chicken from a family-run farm in north Cornwall. The waitress goes on to tell me that part of the secret behind their food success involves marinating their chicken in buttermilk before it’s enveloped in their special breading recipe.
Whilst we finish our drinks, we talk through our experience – we can only found compliments and joke about how we can’t quite make room for dessert. It’s so nice to find a restaurant that offers a comfortable setting with exceptional food. As we prepare to leave, we thank our accommodating waitresses and bar men for their exceptional service and make our way out into the cobbled streets of St Ives.
Feeling full and set to end the evening on a relaxed note, we once again enjoy a short picturesque stroll to the car, talking about how we would not hesitate to recommend or revisit. As keen, fine food diners in west Cornwall, we’ve explored some fantastic locations and I think it’s safe to say this might have just crept up there amongst our favourites.
"It’s so nice to find a restaurant that offers a comfortable setting with exceptional food."