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.
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 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.
Loved the flatbread, nice beautiful crust with a fluffy interior.
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.
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.
The bread was warm with a golden crust but the butter was nowhere as good as Lazy Bear’s cultured butter.
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.
Simple but pure passionfruit bliss.
Loved all the flavors of the dessert but the date cake itself was on the dense side.
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.