One of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2018 was a delectable success.
Birdsong, located in the former AQ spot in the SoMa, is a gorgeous and inviting restaurant with a completely visible kitchen and open hearth. The spacious restaurant is sleek yet cozy with light colored wood and accents of various hues of blues and greens. Chef Chris Bleidorn has extensive experience from working at some of the top San Francisco restaurants such as Benu, Atelier Crenn, and Saison. His vision at Birdsong is to celebrate heritage cuisine utilizing techniques such as cooking over live fire, dry aging various meats, and fermentation. Several ingredients found within the Pacific Northwest are highlighted on the menu such as cold water shellfish (oysters, scallops, geoduck), wild boar, elderberries, and mushrooms, just to name a few. Not only did the concept and cuisine intrigue me, Chef Chris was part of the In Situ opening team so I wanted to support a former coworker.
At Birdsong they offer either a 13 course tasting menu at $168 or a 5 course tasting menu at $120. Of course I wanted the full experience and try everything so we opted for the 13 course tasting menu.
Beautiful creamy and briny raw oysters were finished with a tart persimmon vinegar and fresh coastal succulents. The variety of succulents added texture and a delicious oceanic flavor.
One of the best bites I’ve had in awhile. A fun take on a classic dish, fish and chips but revamped with a touch of finesse. Crispy light pommes soufflé, essentially like a fried puffed potato ballon, was filled with tangy tartar sauce and topped with a luscious piece of halibut. I could have eaten a dozen of these!
Another clever take on classic flavors (bacon and eggs) with a bacon “chip” filled with a ooey gooey egg yolk fudge, caviar, and chives. The bacon flavor was quite prominent so the caviar flavor was slightly lost but I still enjoyed the small bite.
The next few dishes utilized all parts of the creek raised trout which was ingenious and resourceful.
The most tender succulent pieces of trout were beautifully cured and smoked and just lightly warmed through in the cedar paper. Simple yet quite impactful.
Airy crispy trout skin chips were stuffed with a pungent horseradish mayonnaise and trout roe which added nice salinity and texture.
A delightful bowl of goodness. The silky custard was reminiscent of a chawanmushi or silken tofu that just melted in my mouth. The belly meat added a touch of richness and unctuousness to the delicate custard.
One of my favorite dishes is New England clam chowder and while this isn’t comparable, it still satisfied in its own way. The rich buttermilk whey broth was poured table side into a bowl of thin shavings of celery and pieces of geoduck (giant clam). The homemade Parker house roll was lightly grilled and brushed with pork fat…I swoon.
Even though I’m not a mushroom lover, I have to admit this was spot on. The Sonoma lamb mousse was stuffed inside morel mushrooms and these divine morsels were finished with an allium charcoal sauce. The inspiration of the dish comes from the strange curiosity of morel mushrooms growing after wildfires hence the charcoal sauce that added a faint hint of smoke.
Wow…this was like no cornbread I’ve ever tasted. So rich, so much depth of flavor, and so incredibly moist that it reminded me of spoonbread, a Southern cornmeal dish like a savory pudding. This blue maize cornbread was superb especially when eaten with the morel dish.
Once again all parts of the animal are used and nothing is wasted. The aged duck breast was tender and the fat was nicely rendered allowing for a crunchy golden skin. Next to the duck breast were numerous parts from the duck such as heart, gizzard, and liver all topped with a duck “prosciutto” or ham. I absolutely loved the salty slices of the duck ham. While I liked this dish, I felt it was the weakest of the night compared to all the other dishes that just really stood out to me.
The bones from the previous duck course were made into a rich broth flavored with thyme. My only criticism was that the duck broth was almost boiling when served so I had to wait awhile for it to cool down.
I’ve had wild boar before but never the rib and this was incredible. The texture was supple and luscious with a sauce reminiscent of BBQ but not as viscous and much more subtle and refined. Underneath the boar were tart elderberries with elderflowers garnishing the top. A great finale to the savory courses.
A luxurious panna cotta had the most silky smooth texture topped with vibrant plump blueberries. Summer in a bowl…a perfect bridge to the final dessert course.
Holy shit…I freakin’ loved this dessert. Think bread pudding meets crème brûlée. Buttery rich brioche type bread with a caramelized sugar crust with creamy toasted milk ice cream (so dank) and airy jasmine whipped cream. These flavors are right up my alley!
We ended the tasting menu with homemade salt water taffy (forgot to take a photo) that was chewy with just the right amount of saltiness.
Birdsong has only been open for about two months and it has easily been a highlight this year in restaurant openings and it’s not hard to see why. Thoroughly curated heritage cuisine that’s not only visually appealing but really hits all the flavor profiles with a bang. Every dish was something that felt familiar but reintroduced it in a fun way that embodied their concept of showcasing incredible ingredients found within the Pacific Northwest. The restaurant interior was bright and airy and the open kitchen left lingering enticing smells of food being cooked over the open fire. Service was warm and welcoming without feeling pretentious. I also loved their eclectic playlist which had a collection of music spanning over decades where I found myself singing along multiple times. I had a really awesome time at Birdsong and I look forward to dining there again whenever the menu changes! Therefore my rating is a 8.5/10.