love being different
New York city is not lacking in restaurants or people with restaurant recommendations, which is probably why many turn to Yelp, reviews done by The New York Times, and other trusted publications. While all of these are likely to give you a good idea of what to expect from a restaurant, there really is nothing like going and trying it out for yourself.
Prior to a friend’s recommendation, I’d never heard of Charlie Bird. I’d never even heard of King Street, to be honest. This friend of mine is a bit of a foodie, and I trust his recommendations. So despite a so-so review by the Times, mixed reviews on Yelp, and what seemed like just a handful of typical reviews here and there, I decided to book a table at Charlie Bird.
Here’s what I can say about it:
The People: Extremely accommodating from start to finish, the staff at Charlie Bird sure know how to make you feel at home. I’d booked my reservation a few weeks before, sure that I’d make it on time. But because of a flight delay, the rest of the party I was eating with were landing at the time of the reservation!! I called the restaurant maybe two or three hours ahead and they said they couldn’t make us a new reservation, but would keep in mind that we’d walk in anyway and hope that a table would be available. When we got there, two hours after our original reservation, the place was packed, but we had a table within five minutes. Kudos to them for doing what so few restaurants in the city would!!
The Ambience: Loud, unapologetic hip-hop music, photos of old boom boxes in large frames, red-brown chairs across a yellow banquette, simple white tables… It honestly kind of felt like an upscale diner. Having just had the flight fiasco, we were actually quite happy that it was very laid back and relaxed. I especially liked the outdoor area because it was a lovely summer evening and the fading sunlight cast a warm and welcoming glow on the entire restaurant. We also really liked the little touches, like the cork boards they use to give you your bill, which just added to that “Americana” atmosphere.
The Food: Now to what’s important. For a place that has touches of New York almost everywhere you look, the food was far from traditional American. Mostly Italian fusion, the simple menu was navigated through easily and quickly.
We started with a house-made focaccia, which may as well take the place of the definition for divine. Oily, but crunchy, it was the perfect way to start our meal. Next came the fluke, bone marrow, carpaccio and stracciatella. Of the four dishes that served as appetizers, the bone marrow definitely won. I’ve had roasted bone marrow plenty of times before, but never with anchovies and lemon. The mix of flavours was so tongue pleasing we ordered another one! Next was the duck egg pasta with uni that we paired with their tagliata. While putting them together might not have been the best of ideas, since the flavours began to battle, both were very very good. I, for one, wouldn’t mind having more of that pasta!
(Note: Couldn’t take very good photos of the pasta and the tagliata.)
The Price: The food was a bit on the pricey side, but not eye-gouging.
And now the moment of truth…
Would I go back? If someone was coming to visit and specifically wanted to try Charlie Bird, I wouldn’t mind going with them. But would I go again for myself? Would it be on my top recommendations? Not really. It makes the list, but far from being high up. Yes the food was good, but apart from that amazing focaccia, it wasn’t mind blowing. And since I can make bone marrow on my own, and I do have a similar recipe for uni-pasta, Charlie Bird is a restaurant I might never see again.
Decide for yourself:
Charlie Bird is at 5 King Street; 212-235-7133; charliebirdnyc.com.