Bird of Smithfield seems to offer something for everyone with a mix of bars, dining rooms, roof terrace and an early hours drink licence that will make Bird of Smithfield as much a place to drink through night as to eat. With everything on separate floors, the space works works well and keeps these parties apart. The only thing we're not so sure of in the smallish dining room is a divider through the middle of the room. Practically it's there to fit in more two tops without tables suffering excessive neighbour intrusion, but it divides up the room, including blocking out the windows of course, so a mirrored ceiling is then employed to bounce light to the now darker tables behind the divide. It's not the end of the world however.
After recent outings at Roast, Kitchen W8 and Theo Randall where starters exceed a tenner and main courses are £25-£35, Bird of Smithfield seems more decently priced with starters available in the £8-£10 level and mains mostly in the £15-£25 range. On the whole, we found the food to be excellent, and in good quantity. There's plenty to sink your teeth into with the a starter of Crispy Suffolk Pork Cheeks (£7.50) that comes plated as attractively as pork cheeks can be and serves as a nice introduction to Alan's full flavour food. Dorset Crab (an outlier starter at £14) is really excellent because the crab tastes so fresh, super quality and really owns the dish, as it should be, but so often not the case even in pricier restaurants. Definitely one of the best crab dishes since starting the blog, with excellent thin cut toasted granary too that deserves a mention.
On mains, I have fun with Torbay slip soles (two of them per portion), which arrive at the table whole with mace spiced brown shrimps and sea beet & cucumber: at £15.50, it offers a great value main in our view. Nicely done, perhaps a little too much butter on the plate but the Torbay soles are perfectly cooked, deliver good flavour and again, with two fish, there's plenty of it. We recognise that it's early days for the restaurant, but here the service did show a certain innocence; we had to ask for a plate to deposit the fish skeleton on, they didn't really understand the request and initially a small bread plate arrived, hardly fit for purpose. Water glasses are so small that after two sips and you need a refill but they are not on the ball here either and we keep having to ask. I can't imagine it will be too many services before things sharpen up a little, it simply has to, but they were nice enough in delivery.
It's early days for Bird of Smithfield and for now, they have focused understandably on delivering an appealing and attractively priced offer, something that we think they have achieved. To keep costs down, there's no table cloths and napkins are high quality disposables which seems fine enough to us given the price and quality of the food. We don't know Alan Bird but he's clearly taken a big brave step leaving the cosy confines of The Ivy to take on this four floor bar and restaurant that takes his name; we have few doubts it will be a success. It doesn't play into any of the prevailing food trends particularly but it is good food, cooked well at a decent price point in an area where competition is limited. We'll definitely return in tmie to see how it's developing.