Saturday, 24 December 2011

Festive Dining: The Gastro Bar and Grill

This is one of three blog posts on Festive December Dining.

The Gastro was a Twitter find and I’d been following them for a couple of months. I remember seeing the tweets about the Christmas and New Year menu (PDF), and although the menu didn’t really excite me greatly, it was top of mind for when I came to visit in Southport earlier in December. I’m always on the lookout for nice new restaurants in Southport and this would be my first Christmas meal out.

The impression I get from reading about The Gastro is that it oozes a bit of elegance that I’ve found lacking in Southport restaurants these days. It encourages a bit of sophistication, but also has a sense of fun. It’s certainly not trying to be completely snobby, but rather offers a place for casual dining.

The Gastro Bar and Grill

The highlight

Now, listen when I tell you that the warm chocolate brownie is nothing short of AWESOME! It is meant to come with chocolate ice cream but I asked it to be changed to vanilla as I thought it might be too much chocolate for me. It was the perfect combination. The brownie is nice and moist, melty and divine and the best brownie I’ve had in a long long time. I’d come back, just for this brownie. It’s served with honeycomb sweets which was a nice touch.

Warm Triple Chocolate Brownie
chocolate ice cream and honeycomb

Overall impressions

The place has a nice casual dining feel to it on arrival. Nice ambience, well stocked bar on the right and plenty of room for diners. It was a Tuesday evening, so I wasn’t expecting a whole load of people but it was obvious that they were expecting a couple of large parties as there were some tables set out already.

The staff are friendly and quick to serve. A bit too quick, if I’m honest, as I do like to let my food settle just a little bit between courses.

Restaurant interior

The food

We had lovely fresh and filling breads and oils to begin with so I knew I wouldn’t have enough room for a 3 course meal! It wasn’t long before our mains were served. A tender leg of duck for me and a festive turkey breast for my friend. Both meals were quite pleasant and we enjoyed them, but neither of us felt that it was anything spectacular. My friend wasn't too keen on the sprouts as he felt they were undercooked but I don't know anyone who isn't picky about this certain type of veg!

Roasted Turkey Breast
duck fat spuds, pigs in blankets, chestnuts and crispy sage

Confit Leg of Duck
braised red cabbage, English plum chutney

Desserts were served very soon after, and although I rave about the chocolate brownie, I literally could not fit it in. I wanted to, honest! My friend was not too enthusiastic about the Christmas pudding, but agreed that my brownie was the business.

Gastro Bar Christmas Pudding
with vanilla bean custard

All in all, a pleasant meal and a nice location. Not altogether sure that it lives up to the place that it is trying to be, but not bad at all.

More info

The Gastro Bar and Grill, 45 Liverpool Road, Birkdale, Southport, PR8 4AG

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