First Taste: SoMa's new Birdsong plates a highly stylized taste of Pacific Northwest nature

First Taste: SoMa's new Birdsong plates a highly stylized taste of Pacific Northwest nature


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.)

(Sarah Chorey)

Another moment from Bleidorn's past: a twist on New England clam chowder, his favorite soup growing up in Boston. Here traditional chowder ingredients such as lardo, celery, and smoked potatoes are used alongside geoduck clams from Washington, and covered tableside in a broth of clam and buttermilk. Soak up the last of the broth with a parker house roll glazed with pork fat and a sprinkling of pine salt.

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,

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