Just when you thought the small city of San Francisco couldn't handle another majorly high-end restaurant, along comes Birdsong, a spot in SoMa that's doing fine dining to the tune of Saison, Atelier Crenn, Benu, and Chicago's Alinea.
At least, those are all the restaurants where Birdsong chef Chris Bleidorn has sharpened his knives.
And of course the toque has hand selected a team with equal pedigree: partner Aarti Shetty hails from Benu, Monsieur Benjamin, and In Situ; chef de cuisine Brian Limoges has done time at Quince and Atelier Crenn.
Do we have your attention yet?
Taking over the old AQ space, Birdsong is all about heritage cooking, where Bleidorn plays with many elements of nature throughout his 14-course affair. The menu blends together the flavors of the Pacific Northwest and the chef's East Coast upbringing, and it leaves no part of the protein unused. (If tasting menus aren't your thing, a la carte options will be available soon.)
With the help of design firm Saint, Birdsong keeps things elegant and natural. Felled ash and Douglas fir trees create glowing flooring; the cabinets and tables match but are accented with pops of teal. The open kitchen is center stage, put together by Alec Bauer of Kitchen Restaurant + Bar Specialists, and is surrounded by an L-shaped chef's counter where you can get up close to the cooking action.
As the restaurant's name suggests (it's a reference to the role of birds in helping to foster greater ecosystems), you can expect dishes that feel of the earth: morel mushroom–wrapped lamb; a trio of trout courses (a nod to Alaska) that make use of all parts of the fish. Various breads accompany dinner here, accenting plates of fruits, shellfish, and meat. The cooking techniques are intricate and exquisite, finessing fundamental techniques like open fire, fermentation, smoke, and dry-aging.
Essences of nature intertwine throughout the decor: Imagine wandering into a small culinary oasis in a temperate rainforest and being served an exceptional meal completely foraged from its surroundings. It could happen—at least, it does here.
// Birdsong, 1085 Mission St., SoMa, birdsongsf.com