It’s 5:17 on a rather blustery day in New York; patience is no small feat. But, as many can well attest, a true testament to a new restaurant is always the absurd willingness of its guests to wait… whether the restaurant is opened or not. And wait we will. Charlie Bird, after all, is one of 2014’s culinary darlings.
Once inside, you’ll be lucky to sit by the bar and wait for a friend, as it comes complete with handsome, bearded bartenders and stocked with cups filled with fresh, crispy breadsticks that put every Italian restaurant that has ever served that packaged nonsense to shame. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say these are the most perfect breadsticks I have ever had in my life. You better hope your friend doesn’t leave you waiting too long, lest you ruin your appetite.
Which brings us to the food. While the environment feels quite hip—from the loud music playing and a menu reminiscent of vibrant Hang Ten swim trunks from the ‘90s—the food is grownup, albeit in a very modern way. The focus is most certainly on the local and organic; these are dishes that taste about as farm-fresh as it’s going to get. Here, it’s about quality, not quantity. Portions are more in line with what our grandparents would have approved of. There is no filler. Everything on the plate is perfect—curated, if you will—preordained by nature and then served on a white plate.
Heard: Tribe Called Quest
Seen: The scene is a mixed bag of transients and locals. You’ve got your business crowd (though seemingly of entertainment ilk) and your downtown freelancers. People are here for the food.
Tasted: Pounded veal chop, razor clams with pickled chiles, grilled octopus, roasted artichoke and fava salad, panna cotta.
Drank: Two One Two (tequila, Aperol, grapefruit)
Details: 5 King Street, New York, NY 11222
Photos courtesy of Charlie Bird.