First Look: The Bird
Jonny Grave | Nov 7, 2016 | 11:30AM |

With the number of restaurants opening across the city, few have a solid answer to the question “to whom will this restaurant cater?” In other words, “who are you cooking for?” Every new place has some rockstar chef at the helm, or a bar manager who was featured in GQ, or a manager who’s worked for some premier restaurant in another city. None of them can tell you who they want to serve. The staff at the Bird have a concrete answer, though: “Our neighborhood.”

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Eatwell, the folks behind the Heights, the Pig, and Grillfish to name a few, have got a new one: the Bird, located at 11th and O, NW. Chef Michael Bonk, who ran the ship at the Pig for years, worked tirelessly to create a new menu focusing entirely on poultry.

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Instead of employing the more formal, traditional, and sometimes boring conventional styles of cuisine, Bonk pulls inspiration from his travels, and from his own experiences in the kitchen. The dish he prepared for BYT’s visit was ostrich tartare, with a house-made flatbread. It’s subtle and tender, but full of flavor, and well balanced. It’s not at all gummy like badly-prepared steak tartatre can get.

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His self-made sense of the kitchen is matched by bar manager and beverage director, Kyle McNeel. Eatwell has taken full advantage of McNeel’s inventive-yet-simple approach to drinks; the cocktail menu boasts seven drinks, also concocted by McNeel. For as wild as some of the drinks may seem, they all stem from common sense. Eatwell insisted the Bird have a vodka cocktail. McNeel finds a way to make pair beet-infused vodka with a five-spice blend, and cover the exterior of the glass in essential orange oils. The result is a new, vibrant, and but completely accessible cocktail.

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This is kind of a recurring theme throughout the restaurant; It’s inventive, exciting, and vibrant, without feeling exclusive, or pompous. The menu has eight entrees, all of them between $17 and $30, with the exception of the “Flock Together” dinner for two. This is a restaurant for everyone in the neighborhood. The staff hopes they might get people to stop in more than once a week. This might not be a bad idea.

The Bird, located at 1337 11th St NW, is open nightly for dinner at 5 p.m., happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 4 to 6 p.m. and will serve brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning November 19. The restaurant accepts reservations.

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