The front windows are stacked with logs, dried fish hangs from the rafters and the dining room is scented with wood smoke, but lofty ceilings and a contemporary aura make Birdsong feel lumberjack-chic. While Chef Christopher Bleidorn prides himself on live-fire cooking and using every part of the animal, he’s still attuned to creature comforts, including a soothing color scheme, sleek earthenware, elegant stemware and a staff that’s as sharp as a well-made axe. The funky 80s rock music in the background certainly helps preserve a laid-back vibe.
His cooking underlines the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest by way of a prix-fixe unveiling such delightful bites as seaweed dressed with fishbone vinegar; “fish and chips” comprised of halibut tartare and pommes souffle; a trout skin “sandwich” with roe; as well as “bacon and eggs” starring pork belly wrapped around egg yolk and caviar. The chef also flaunts immense skill with plates, like the Sonoma lamb served with grilled olives, followed by an enticing combo of California short grain rice with spring peas cooked in a broth of Parmesan bouillon.
Even desserts get their due here, like pine needle sorbet with pine pollen and fermented honey.
Birdsong is a nature and heritage inspired restaurant, that is currently focused on the Pacific Northwest region. Dishes highlight key ingredients from this region; such as cold-water shellfish, wild game, berries and mushrooms. Chef Chris grew up in New England, however he has spent most of his cooking years on the West Coast. These influences have allowed him to notice the similarities between New England and the Pacific Northwest which is why he wanted to open Birdsong with this focus. He calls the Pacific Northwest the “New England of the West Coast.”
Birdsong’s quest to preserve fundamental cooking techniques of the past in a contemporary setting is inspired by, naturalist writer Michael Frome’s sentiment that “each succeeding generation accepts less and less of the real thing because it has no way of understanding what has been lost.”
Here at Birdsong, we want to restore the past and meld it with new ideas and creativity to ultimately celebrate each ingredient. We utilize ancient cooking methods such as open fire and smoke, dry-age and fermentation techniques. Each day the menu is crafted based on the finest offerings from our network of small farms, ranches, and fisheries. We will intentionally avoid conventional agriculture in order to support local substantiality and bring flavor and creativity to the forefront.
Birdsongs symbolize harmony and in balance with nature; the two most guiding principles in our cuisine.
Our restaurant is inspired by the natural habitat of the past and is looking to bring back some of the ingredient/styles/techniques that were used then to present day – a harmony of past and present. The sound of birds singing signifies that there is balance in that environment. Birds are in tune with change in seasons – for example birdsongs are more frequent with increasing daylight hours. Birds are symbolic of revival and are one of the first responders of wildlife to return after a natural disaster.
We also want to connect city to nature. Birds are the first to inhabit park land in urban areas.When parks are built, birds start coming in only when there are grains, water, insects and crucial elements that are important for balance in nature. Due to their role in spreading seeds, they symbolize regrowth.
And last but not the least, the word seems playful and light, that’s the feeling we want for the restaurant.
Chef Christopher Bleidorn uses ancient methods like cooking over an open fire, smoking, dry-aging and fermentation to highlight key ingredients from purveyors in the Pacific Northwest. The menus he creates evoke a kind of exploration into the heart of the region’s indigenous foods. Guests can choose from five ($130), seven ($165) or 13 courses ($190) that feature succulent dishes like the three-part creek raised trout sequence (cedar cured and smoked, a sandwich made with skin, roe, spine meat and horseradish, and a custard made of dried bones and aged radish). Watch the chefs in action from the communal wooden bars facing the open kitchen or from tables lined beneath firefly-lit pendulum fixtures.
Sunday & Monday
We offer our takeout program Tuesday – Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.
San Francisco City Guide © Simon Newbound