TABLE TALK Cock-a-doodle delight; Alison Davison found the upmarket Cock Inn, had plenty to crow about.
The Cock Inn,
0121 3131 3690.
It seems the world of trendy pubmeister Paul Salisbury gets bigger by the day.
After taking over leafy, well-heeled, Warwickshire, he is now making inroads into the leafy, well-heeled stamping grounds around Sutton Coldfield.
He has his Crabmill, his Boot at Lapworth, his Orange Tree, his King's Head and now he has his Cock Inn. He must be a very happy man.
I'm not sure whether Salisbury is an owner or simply a consultant with this latest venture but it bears all the hallmarks of his other places - nice rural location, startling good looks within a traditional pub exterior, young Aussie staff by the shedload and good food which is pretty simple but very up to the minute.
It's tempting, with lots of comfort appeal, especially with all the homely things like pizza, steaks, fish and chips, gammon with parsley sauce etc at its core but with plenty of more contemporary, global touches to keep things lively, whether it's inventive pizza toppings like Thai chicken with mango and chilli or starters such as gravadlax with beetroot or gambas with rocket and aioli.
The menu, in fact, is almost identical to the Orange Tree's, with its sections including 'little dishes' (ie starters), 'leaves' and 'starches/greens' (no 'fats' again, you'll notice).
One of the 'little dishes' is sardines with garlic and parsley a little dishy with a little fishy.
I went along in a group of four one Friday lunchtime expecting to find the place deserted - after all, not only is it in the middle of nowhere but Wishaw had been apparently scrubbed from the roadsigns. We tracked it down with some difficulty but plenty of others obviously already have the knowledge because the place was doing surprisingly good business.
The interior is pretty typical of the genre; it's all been opened up and the wide spaces are now full of chunky, modern furniture. It's very good-looking but functionality doesn't always match the aesthetics. Our table had to be moved so that two of our group could squeeze on to the banquette behind and it was then dragged back, trapping them there. A trip to the loo meant a major manoeuvre.
Still, we didn't let it get in the way of the serious business of choosing lunch. We shared two little dishes between us as starters - a garlic pizzette (pounds 2.50) and a parmesan and chive souffle (pounds 4.95). The garlic pizzette was a big, pizza-sized flat bread oozing with garlicky oil and fragrant with rosemary. It would have been too much for one but it was great to share.
The souffle had passed its perfect moment and was wearing its golden crust at a decidedly rakish angle but even collapsed it still had a good mousse-like texture. It was deliciously rich and seriously cheesy, if distinctly light on chives.
The main courses were pretty good, if not quite as impressive as I'd expected. The weakest was mine - pea and gorgonzola cannelloni (pounds 8.95), an oily dishful that was overwhelmed by seriously poky cheese with not enough to lighten it. It needed more carb and definitely some side veg.
Two of the gang had steaks - one the ribeye steak with blue cheese, onion butter and chips (pounds 12.95) and the other the fillet with bearnaise sauce and chips (pounds 15.95). Both were enjoyed with minor quibbles - the blue cheese was thought a little rich while the fillet 'could have been bigger'.
I have to say it looked the standard size to me and both were cooked just as required, with good, crispy chips.
With my friend's spaghettini with shrimps, chilli and lemongrass (pounds 10.95), there could be no complaints of small portions. This was huge - masses of pasta in a creamy yellow sauce bursting with prawns and packing a nice chilli tang.
She enjoyed it but couldn't detect much lemongrass and wasn't smitten enough to continue past the point of fullness. Her green salad (pounds 2.95) was good, especially for watercress fans.
The staff were obliging enough, although they twice forgot to bring over drinks from the bar (for which they apologised).
We decided not have dessert but finished off with coffees and a good two-cup pot of tea.
In all, this is a lovely venue, cool, upmarket and classy with food that is fine, if not exceptional. It could do with moving up a gear to match the interior and put even more bums on those chunky seats.
..TEXT: Birmingham Post restaurant critic Alison Davison has launched a website dedicated to eating out in the Midlands.
The site, www.eat-the-midlands.co.uk, includes a detailed listing of the region's best pubs and restaurants, an archive of past Post reviews and general food news.
A separate members' page (registering is free) is available where members can post their own comments, ask Alison's personal advice on where to eat and discover which venues are coming up for review in The Post up to a month ahead.
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Sep 17, 2003|
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