The Bird at Birtle – Heywood

“Nutters’ smart new eatery turns out some decent grub, but is it too loud?”

A rare day off, so it’s a drive out to lunch. The Flame and I decide on trying out Andrew Nutter’s recently re-opened gastropub The Bird at Birtle. It turns out Birtle is just to the right of Bury and a bit to the left of Rochdale. We plunder the dreaded M62 before settling nicely beside the wonderfully spruced up Bird. Nice plumage! The local stonework has been teased and sanded to a yellowish hue. Presumably, on account of the artistic masonry above the door it was once called ‘The Bird I’th Hand?”.

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We scuttle round the back to tie up the steed. Here we were greeted by a cathedral of glass! The old bird has had a big, square, contemporary block of architectural curtain walling grafted on the back. It’s a striking addition affording the diners inside a view of, well firstly the car park and then the wonderful green yonder.

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As it happened we had booked and we were warmly greeted and shown straight to our table upstairs via a huge bird mural. A touch of the Nutter humour me thinks! I reckon the place was half full. The tactic appears to be to secrete everyone, be it on the ground or first floor, in front of the aforementioned glass frontage. Our table indeed looked out to the rolling green hills, though not particularly well lit on this cloudy, drizzly day!

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We attempted to converse and select from the super lunchtime menu. Owing to the complete lack of soft furnishings coupled with the plethora of hard surfaces such as the glass, the tastefully stained panelling and black ash furniture we had difficulty hearing over the cacophony of clattering cutlery and people shouting at each other. A pint of Pride of Pendle calmed the shredded nerves!

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For starters The Flame selected the rather wonderful tomato and celeriac soup with rosemary focaccia (£5). Though she doesn’t go for the cream swirl it was in fact absolutely delicious. Noblets of pesto adding even more flavour. I went for the sticky slow cooked short rib beef and rochdale peas (£6.50). I rated this ‘historic’, one of the best starters I’ve had in a good while. The beef slipping effortlessly from its bone, the peas still having a bite set in a gorgeous ‘gravy’, describing it as a jus just wouldn’t do!

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For mains The Flame went for her (yawn!) standard fish pie (£13). In fairness, once again it was a good one. It looked good too, set in its own earthenware pot with a skillet of peas alongside on a wooden base board. As the skate special had just been sold, I went for the beer battered sole with mushy peas and hand cut chips (£12.50). Two delicately battered fillets set over each other, it looked super on the plate. The chips, so good they were close to Wiswell chefs and Hawksmoors!! such was the quality. A punchy homemade tartare sauce added extra points to the binge. All in all a corking lunch. Still the best was to come….

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Dessert! I went for the incredible blackberry, pear and almond frangipane tart with amaretto ice cream (£6.50) whilst The Flame went for Kirkhams Lancashire cheese, toffee apple puree and Eccles cakes, also £6.50. The frangipane came surrounded with dots of sweetness and oozed with glorious swabs of flavour and texture. The ice cream set on the chocolate cookie a particular highlight. The cheese supplemented by the apple and cakes of Eccles equally good.

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With decent coffees the whole lot came in at £62.50. A creditable fee for what was six excellent courses. The only slight downside for us was the noise. I think we got used to it after a while. It could be that things would have been a little quieter in the equally smart room away from the view? Still a minor quibble, but Im sure we’ll be giving the families other nearby restaurant ‘Nutters’ a go soon too. If the food is as good as this it should be reet!

The Bird at Birtle
239 Bury And Rochdale Old Rd,
Birtle,
OL10 4BQ
T: 01706 540 500
E: info@thebirdatbirtle.co.uk

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