Your food can be any colour as long as it’s brown

Alan Burrows heads to Eighty Eight Bar & Brasserie, Lord Street, 
Southport. Call 01704 339988 or go to

“It is the two main chefs tonight, so they only have themselves to blame,” said the apologetic waitress.

I so wanted the Eighty Eight Bar & Brasserie in Southport to be a success.

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Next to the bandstand park, an uber stylish men’s fashion shop and the Vincent Hotel (part owned by Steven Gerrard), it could have been part of Lord Street’s regeneration.

In a building that had lain empty for around a decade, someone cared enough to make a lovely bar, well-appointed restaurant and a beer garden that’ll be perfect for a sundowner as the moon rises after a warm summer’s day.

So it is with a heavy heart that I can only conclude that the management here are too scared to question their chefs’ judgement. To rein them in.

Despite a desire to copy the presentation styles of the myriad TV cooking shows, we were served bland, over cooked dishes that were as subtle as an elephant’s painting.

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And, to continue with the watercolours analogy, everything on the plate came in the hue of a toddler’s painting, when all the colours are mixed to create that browny mess.

The balsamic mushroom was lost beneath a mound of shredded beef brisket with an amateurish pepita herb crust.

Nothing complemented anything, least of all the deep fried slithers of what could once have been a root vegetable.

The chef must consider these crisps his signature garnish – we got greasy beetroot ones and another indistinguishable vegetable with both main courses.

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Those followed a salmon mousse, which sat beneath a fish-flavoured rubber disk.

When the waitress took the plate away with clearly one spoonful eaten, she might have asked if there was something wrong.

The mains – braised Moroccan style lamb shank, toasted almonds, apricots and mint couscous and the pork tenderloin with a tangle of greens (bacon and cabbage to you and me), with gratin potatoes with a port sauce – were heavy but remarkably tasteless. But not as tasteless as the grease-proof paper that came with the lamb.

And how you manage to make pork tenderloin and the lamb shank dry is beyond me.

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We jibbed off desserts as I just did not trust them to pull off the complicated flavour 

One final thing, I like the dress code; no Nike sounds a good thing to me.

But also you don’t need the first face of the place to be some coiffured young swain with an Amazonian tribal ear lobe disc.