Nettled by its tone of trend and superiority, Charlie Bird, the hottest new restaurant in SoHo may end up as a momentary fad, nestling in that list of places to take dates and impress out-of-towners. A neon sign hangs vertically calling out the name “Charlie Bird”, in an electric yellow, attracting a certain type of crowd that is mostly young and good looking, with a penchant for a fashionable dining experience.
But for now Charlie Bird’s blemishes are tolerated. For example, the early 90’s rap is no longer played at excruciatingly high decibels. The tie-dye gradient on the fold-out menu calls attention to the establishment’s fondness for the New York hip-hop scene. Moreover, the employment of a condensed version of the Impact typeface, remains, a refreshing departure from the generic menu designs of city dining. The music is a little louder in the diminutive bathrooms, with large jars of mint Life Savers offered to patrons who appreciate a sugary mint or two. And so, Charlie Bird seems to have enough going to keep the crowds thronging.
If you can manage to get a reservation, you’ll note that the service errs on the side of the handsome and immaculate. Most of the wine varieties can be ordered as half a bottle. The expansive list runs the price and region gamut, securing appropriate pairings for every meal and budget. Moreover, sharing is encouraged. Pasta orders are instinctively divvied up―should you choose to go halfsies. The brief but comprehensive menu spans the sea and turf with good variety, including plenty of vegetarian options.
Welfleet oysters with tomato vinegar are pleasant, with a fresh, mineral finish. A bright mélange of green and grain is a must try for those who enjoy a good farro salad. Nonetheless, it is also an extended invitation to those who usually find salads, or farro for that matter, to be underwhelming. Basil, mint, arugula, and apple-cider soaked farro, intermingle with chopped tomatoes. It’s a fresh grain salad, underscored with luxurious glugs of olive oil, pistachio, and freshly shaved parmesan. Melissa Clark of The New York Times has a recipe for it here.
The Tuscan chicken liver is worthy of comment. It was the first time, for as long as I could recall, I was able to enjoy an ingredient I usually find too brash with its sharp, iron taste. Balsamic raisins, chopped walnuts, and capers, stud the plate, rendering the dark reddish brown pâté creamier, sweeter, and aromatic, than I could have ever imagined chicken liver could taste.
The Chitarra Nero is an unadulterated, black pasta dish with crab and zucchini. The pasta is delicately boiled and tossed with bread crumbs and Calabrian chiles. It delivers both delight, crunch, and just the right touch of heat.
For dessert, opt for the lemon cake. It comes with a dollop of pistachio gelato. It’s a radiant, delicious finish to a meal. It’s perfect to share but best eaten solo.
5 King St
(between Mac Dougal St & Avenue Of The Americas)
New York, NY 10012