The Three Birds is a small restaurant in Bruntsfield that opened relatively recently – it took over the site from the Mouton Noir, which I had found to be a bit patchy. I had fancied trying the Three Birds for a while and was further encouraged by the positive review in the Scotsman. So, we finally made it last night and were immediately encouraged by the fact that the place was packed when we arrived at 8 o’clock.
The menu is relatively short (good) with a few specials and we mostly chose the specials for starters – haggis balls for me, cauliflower and smoked trout with salad for my daughters. My wife chose cauliflower and horseradish soup from the regular menu.
Our starters were very disappointing. The cauliflower soup was the worst – far too thick and claggy – more of a tepid porridge than a soup. It really was pretty grim – and overpriced at £5. The smoked trout was minuscule – two tiny slices and when my daughter asked for some bread to accompany this, she was told that this was charged extra. Well, the Ryanair approach is OK if you charge Ryanair prices but the trout starter was £6 so I thought it was pretty mean not to offer some bread with it. My haggis balls with poached egg were the best of the starters but haggis really needs something sharp to cut through the richness – whisky when its served on its own but haggis balls need something like chutney or relish.
Our main courses were a considerable improvement. These all came from the standard menu which maybe made the difference. My daughter had partridge, which she pronounced excellent and my wife had roast cod, which she enjoyed. I had venison loin which was nicely cooked – perfectly pink – although the meat was just a wee bit lacking in taste. The beetroot accompaniment went well with it.
No puds but the coffees were fine. A short and reasonably priced wine list – we had a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a couple of glasses of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Both were good examples and not overpriced. Overall, we were about £30/head including wine.
The atmosphere in the Three Birds was great and the service was excellent. I’d really like it to succeed as a neighbourhood bistro but they still have a fair bit of work to do. Friends who have eaten there report the same – some have had a great meal, others have been disappointed.
No self-respecting chef should ever have let that awful soup leave the kitchen and they should remember that one of the key characteristics of a good bistro is good bread – as a normal accompaniment to everything. I’m sure we’ll give it one more try – but we’ll give it a few months in the hope of improvement.