Review: Nightbird.

I was excited to finally dine at Nightbird, the newest addition to Hayes Valley.

Nightbird is a quaint elegant restaurant offering only a tasting menu at $125 per person which is on the pricey side especially since the restaurant has only been open for about six months. There’s also a bar located in the back called Linden Room if you just wanted a cocktail, wine, or beer.

Since it’s a tasting menu, we didn’t have to decide anything besides our beverages. We started off with two cocktails, both creative and delicious.

Cute Menus.

Flower Root and Stalk: Gin, Genepy, Rhubarb, Lime, and Sorbet. Ralph Boy: Rye, Jamaican Rum, Lemon, Quince, and Meringue.

Amuse Bouche: Pickled Quail Egg with Vadouvan Hollandaise and Crispy Leeks (8/10).

I typically don’t like eggs but this amuse bouche was a great start to the meal. Since the quail egg was pickled, it almost masked that “eggy” flavor I don’t care for. The creamy vadouvan (mixture of spices such as onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, fenugreek) hollandaise was rich and encased the quail egg. The crunchy fried leeks were a nice addition for sweetness and texture.

“Kibbeh Tartare” with Green Garlic, and Daqqa (7.5/10).

Kibbeh is a traditional Lebanese dish consisting of minced meat and bulgur. Their interpretation was a lamb tartare seasoned with daqqa (Tunisian spice of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppercorns, and grains of paradise), bulgur crisps, and puffed rice on top. I liked the variations of texture from the soft tartare, the airy crisps, and the puffed crunchy rice, but I wanted a little more seasoning to bring everything together.

Flatbread with the Tartare (8.5/10).

Loved the flatbread, nice beautiful crust with a fluffy interior.

“Mante” with Fava Leaf, Walnut, and Smoked Ricotta (7/10).

Mante is a type of dumpling and their version was similar to the Italian gnudi. While I liked all the ingredients used in this dish, I felt that some parts of the gnudi were extremely salty and they were falling apart and didn’t keep their shape.

Black Cod with Asparagus, Green Garbanzo, and Charred Lemon (7/10).

While the fish and the asparagus were cooked perfectly, I felt like this dish was slightly elementary. At this price point, I’m expecting a little more creativity and excitement and this lacked that.

Homemade Bread and Butter (8/10).

The bread was warm with a golden crust but the butter was nowhere as good as Lazy Bear’s cultured butter.

Duck with Quinoa Dolma and Forest Mushroom (6/10).

This was the weakest dish of the night without a doubt. The duck breast was cooked fine but lacked flavor. The quinoa dolma was definitely different but needed some seasoning. Lastly, the duck rillette was slightly dry. Once again, at this price point I’m expecting more.

Passionfruit Sorbet (8/10).

Simple but pure passionfruit bliss.

Date Cake with Chai Ice Cream, Pear, and Cardamon White Chocolate (7-7.5/10).

Loved all the flavors of the dessert but the date cake itself was on the dense side.

Chocolate Truffles.

Overall I was disappointed with Nightbird. I desperately wanted to love the restaurant but I felt half the dishes fell short in terms of flavor and uniqueness. Also the portion sizes were on the smaller side, which is fine with me, but majority of people would complain that it wasn’t enough food. I think if the tasting menu was anywhere from $65-75 I wouldn’t have a problem with the food. However, since it was $125 I expected much more especially when I’ve dined at numerous restaurants in the city with significantly better food at the same price. Therefore, my rating is a 7/10.

One thought on “Review: Nightbird.

Leave a Reply