Review: The Mockingbird Taproom


The Mockingbird on Lower Watergate Street. Pic:Peter Thornton

The Mockingbird on Lower Watergate Street. Pic:Peter Thornton

If you’re looking for a knee slapping, yeehaw place to eat with authentic soul food that will transport you to the deep south of America or the bold spicy plains of Mexico then your search may be over.

Being a fan of the great flavours that inspired this restaurant I thought I’d take a visit to the self-confessed ‘soon to be legendary’ Mockingbird Taproom on Lower Watergate Street, just a stones throw from the Racecourse in Chester.

Our evening got off to an interesting start. With no parking space at the Mockingbird, we were forced to park a short distance away in a public car park. The approach to the restaurant was not the most comfortable as we were sandwiched between the cast iron fence that covers the face of the Mockingbird and several buses who nearly took our heads off with their mirrors, all thanks to the narrowest walkway I have encountered in a while.

That being said it was a cross I would gladly bear again as the experience within the Mockingbird was fantastic. We were greeted at the door with a smile from the staff and led to a table for two. The lighting was evocative and calming without being dull. Our table was made of solid pine which complimented the sun kissed style pine that adorned the walls of the restaurant. The atmosphere was great due in part to a full house mixed with the overtones of music from the deep south and latino beats.

While we deliberated over our food choice we opted for a bottle of the Vidal Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (£21.95 Btl) which was light and fruity with underpinnings of melon, gooseberry and citrus fruits that cleansed the palate ready for the food.

For the main course I opted for the ‘Hoover Dam Burger’ (£13.50) recommended by the waitress, while my partner chose the ‘Gulf Gumbo’(£13.95). The presentation of our food was fantastic. The aptly named Hoover Dam which must have been around six inches tall  sat on a solid oak plinth and consisted of succulent cajun spiced chicken fillet that melted in the mouth, a-top a lightly spiced beef brisket and house burger accompanied by a slice of fresh pineapple, all sandwiched between lightly toasted sweet and sticky brioche slices with a hot chilli sauce pipette adding a bit of fun and spice to the dish if you wanted.

The Gulf Gumbo was described on the menu as “Pure sea food” and it did not disappoint. A cast iron crock pot housed a mix of halibut chunks that flaked apart – no knife needed, shallow fried scallops that were tender and meaty, the shrimp that were already de-shelled appeared more similar in size to king prawns, and this fish bonanza was accompanied by a buttery broth and toasted corn kernels that added an extra dynamic and texture to the dish.

Both dishes were excellent, the only issue lay with the Hoover Dam as I would class it as unreasonably priced. The quality of the burger is undeniable but for the £13.50 that you pay you get no sides which resulted in an extra £2.95 being spent on the ‘Pigout’ fries, a bowl of french fries smothered in a homemade baconaise sauce – which were delicious but left a sour taste as they should have come included in the price of the burger.

While the main dishes were sufficient in size we decided to throw caution to the wind and choose a desert. The selection was both ample and varied, but I opted for the special of the day –  ‘Bacon and Chocolate chip cookies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream’ (£5.95). I was advised by one of the fantastic waiters that served us on the night, that both the ice cream and cookies had been made just hours earlier by the Chef. Both components came on an elongated plate. The cookies were soft in the middle with crunch around the edges and crammed full of sweet melted chocolate chips and shredded bacon bits that provided a salty taste and sticky texture with the ice cream acting as a fitting compliment to the cookies – a perfect balance which resulted in something that sounded so wrong at the time of ordering, becoming the highlight of my evening.

My partner chose the Biloxi Brownie (£5.95) a triple layer of chocolate decadence covered in freshly torched marshmallows with the option vanilla ice cream, which my partner opted against.

All in all the Mockingbird provides excellent surroundings that befit its fresh and unique menu. The staff are accommodating and always on hand to help and advise. With all these factors considered I would highly recommend giving this great venue a try. I know I’ll be back for more.

Rating: 4/5

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