Birdsong (San Francisco, CA)
1085 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dining date: 7/14/22
I first came across Birdsong in 2020 while going to one its neighbors in Square Pie Guys and now-closed Saint Frank Coffee. The restaurant is striking even from the outside; peeking through the bars on its windows offers a glimpse of the Pacific Northwest-inspired oasis behind. The restaurant is in stark contrast to its neighborhood, adjacent to Civic Center in an area generally not recommended for lingering.
Chris Bleidorn, formerly chef de cuisine of Atelier Crenn, staked out on his own to open this place in 2018. The restaurant’s received rave reviews ever since, earning its first Michelin star in 2019 and second in 2021. I first tried the restaurant for its pandemic-special fried chicken takeout offering. The chicken was so popular it spawned its own offshoot called Birdbox just a mile away.
The restaurant is tasting menu-only, currently running $295 for 12ish courses. The restaurant is pretty cozy, with prime view seats at the chef’s counter and tables along the wall.
root broth braised wakame, smoked mussels, shrimp
shigoku oysters chicken fat, cauliflower
creek-raised trout roe, stone fruit & summer tomatoes; tail end prepared like lox, puffed skin, fresh cheese; loin cured in cedar, shiso, pine needle condiment
black cod grilled over embers favas & peas, light cream made from the shells
sea urchin cream puff fermented shiitake, savory butterscotch
cornbread & caviar
quail, lacquered & smoked grilled parker house rolls
aged lamb loin endive cooked over the fire
chamomile sorbet blackberry, mint, honey
mt. tam cheesecake seascape strawberries, buttermilk
The meal at Birdsong was exceptional and one of the best I’ve had in some time. There were plenty of highlights and no real lowlights. The sea urchin cream puff looked so delicate with a burst of sea flavor, along with hints of earthy and sweet notes. The cornbread, topped with whipped cream and caviar, was an unexpected combination that worked wonders. Sweet, salty and very savory, this was probably the most memorable dish. The quail, presented with quite the spread of accoutrements, were tender and flavorful morsels. I really enjoyed the accompanying warm Parker house rolls to make small sliders. And lamb loin, basted in its own juices, paired so well with a sliver of bitter endive; I just wish there were a few more bites to that dish. In all, I would rate this meal at Birdsong among the best I’ve had in this city.