By Dane Feldman
Photos by Dane Feldman.
Birds & Bubbles is located below street level on Forsyth Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The hip new restaurant is owned and operated by Sarah Simmons, a true staple of an executive chef here in New York. At the heart of all of her success sit her ties to the south, where she grew up. Because of that, Birds & Bubbles is all about Sunday Supper all week long.
That homage to Sunday Supper is written all over the Birds & Bubbles menus. The restaurant serves up brunch, dinner, dessert, and even late night specialties. I dined here for dinner with one other person and certainly had a tough time deciding what to order.
In the end, we decided to share a half of a buttermilk fried chicken, heirloom grits, and crispy potato salad. The chicken was absolutely incredible; the meat was juicy and the skin was crisped to perfection.
As much as I was heading to Birds & Bubbles for the birds, I was truly blown away by the sides. The crispy potato salad with shallot aioli, capers, and herbs was one of the best potato dishes I have ever tasted. I would hardly call it potato salad, but only because it bears no resemblance to the mayonnaised junk you can buy in a deli. The heirloom grits with green chili cheese served casserole style were delicious, too. Nicely creamy with a hint of spice, all while maintaining the true grittiness, is just the way I like it.
Sheesh, where do I begin? The bubbles factor of Birds & Bubbles will certainly put a solid dent in your wallet if you let it. Most of the options by the bottle are over $100 unless you want sparkling wine rather than true champagne. You can, however, order a glass of bubbly for as low as $13. Not too shabby for New York.
As much as I love champagne, I found that I couldn’t resist the cocktail list and in the end I settled for the Catywampus: whiskey, mescal, green chartreuse, passion fruit, and jalapeno on the rocks. This sweet and spicy cocktail paired so well with the chicken and grits, it was all I could do not to order a second.
The wait staff here is extremely friendly and attentive. They are knowledgeable about their menu, helpful, and seem to communicate well with each other in such a new restaurant.
The space itself, however, was nothing like what I expected. It’s a dimly lit, narrow place with a small bar area in the front and a slightly larger seating area in the rear. Because it doesn’t seat too many and seating larger groups is nearly impossible, the noise is mostly kept to a low hum. As pleasant as that is, I was truthfully hoping for something a little more vibrant.
All in all, however, Birds & Bubbles is quickly becoming as much of a staple as Simmons herself. If it wasn’t so difficult to get a reservation, I would be going back week after week.