Alan Burrows heads to Eighty Eight Bar & Brasserie, Lord Street, Southport. Call 01704 339988 or go to www.88lordstreet.co.uk
“It is the two main chefs tonight, so they only have themselves to blame,” said the apologetic waitress.
I so wanted the Eighty Eight Bar & Brasserie in Southport to be a success.
Next to the bandstand park, an uber stylish men’s fashion shop and the Vincent Hotel (part owned by Steven Gerrard), it could have been part of Lord Street’s regeneration.
In a building that had lain empty for around a decade, someone cared enough to make a lovely bar, well-appointed restaurant and a beer garden that’ll be perfect for a sundowner as the moon rises after a warm summer’s day.
So it is with a heavy heart that I can only conclude that the management here are too scared to question their chefs’ judgement. To rein them in.
Despite a desire to copy the presentation styles of the myriad TV cooking shows, we were served bland, over cooked dishes that were as subtle as an elephant’s painting.
And, to continue with the watercolours analogy, everything on the plate came in the hue of a toddler’s painting, when all the colours are mixed to create that browny mess.
The balsamic mushroom was lost beneath a mound of shredded beef brisket with an amateurish pepita herb crust.
Nothing complemented anything, least of all the deep fried slithers of what could once have been a root vegetable.
The chef must consider these crisps his signature garnish – we got greasy beetroot ones and another indistinguishable vegetable with both main courses.
Those followed a salmon mousse, which sat beneath a fish-flavoured rubber disk.
When the waitress took the plate away with clearly one spoonful eaten, she might have asked if there was something wrong.
The mains – braised Moroccan style lamb shank, toasted almonds, apricots and mint couscous and the pork tenderloin with a tangle of greens (bacon and cabbage to you and me), with gratin potatoes with a port sauce – were heavy but remarkably tasteless. But not as tasteless as the grease-proof paper that came with the lamb.
And how you manage to make pork tenderloin and the lamb shank dry is beyond me.
We jibbed off desserts as I just did not trust them to pull off the complicated flavour combinations.
One final thing, I like the dress code; no Nike sounds a good thing to me.
But also you don’t need the first face of the place to be some coiffured young swain with an Amazonian tribal ear lobe disc.