The Yardbird gives you the only way to listen to jazz: live and in a low lit room.
The Yardbird is situated in a rather strange place. Nestled by Paradise Forum, close to the start of Broad Street, you really feel that it should be down a back ally somewhere, not next to chain pubs near one of Birmingham’s busiest pedestrian routes.
Inside it's exactly as you imagine a jazz bar should look. You sit around circular tables in front of a small stage behind which there is a bare, red brick wall. It also has a couple of comfy dark brown leather sofas which you can sink into.
The place is almost intimidatingly arty, the people here seem to know a lot about music (in fact if you go to one of their jam nights you will see audience members just getting up and playing). It's a great venue though, and is small enough for you to feel close to the band even if you are sitting at the back of the room. Just lean back and let the music wash over you.
It is a jazz bar but they also have soul, funk, hip hop and nu jazz mixed in there. Definitely worth checking out is the Thursday night jamming session, it's free and is exciting to see people just going for it, but any night is good. They clear a space on Saturdays to make a dance floor in case you fancy a boogie.
The food at the Yardbird is your typical no nonsense British pub grub. The menu is a bit sparse with only a handful of dishes to choose from for each course.
As a snack, the nachos are a good option for £5. The crunchy nachos come topped off with a mountain of melted cheese and a drizzling of sour cream and guacamole. Depending who you’re sharing with and how many courses you are going for, you could easily share amongst a small group of people.
Main meals are around the £5 mark, with lasagne and minted lamb burgers being a favourite. Both come accompanied by homemade fat chips. The portions are plentiful and definitely value for money, but a lack of garlic and seasoning means the lasagne isn’t particularly flavoursome. The minted lamb burger is another mammoth affair. Again, you get a lot for your money, but a sprinkling of seasoning here and there would help bring out the flavours.
For those with a sweet tooth you have a choice of two puddings: jam roly-poly or cookie cheesecake. Both cost around the £3 mark. The cheesecake is light, creamy and chocolaty. The drizzling of strawberry sauce makes for a nice combination and this is a highlight.
The bar selection is not particularly good. It doesn't do cocktails or anything fancy, like. It just has beers, wine and spirits. A bottle of the house wine costs £10 and tastes pretty good. They always run a few promotional drinks that are quite cheap, normally a spirit mixer and certain brands of bottled beer. In all honesty though, you come here for the music and the vibe, not the food or drinks.
The Last Word
This really is a place to go for a guaranteed good night out. One of Birmingham's less mainstream venue, it feels like you are stepping back in time to a golden jazz era.