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Bird & the Bottle, Santa Rosa

Author: Alexandra Russell
May, 2016 Issue

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Bird & the Bottle
1055 Fourth Street
Santa Rosa
(707) 568-4000
Modern tavern fare
Lunch and dinner daily
Plates to share (or not): $6-$28
Full bar, nice wine list
 
Located just east of downtown, Bird & the Bottle is an easy stroll away from shops and businesses. There’s also a dedicated parking lot, so no need to worry about meters and tickets. No matter how you travel, I highly suggest you get there, because restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark have once again struck the right note.
 
We were welcomed warmly and advised on how best to navigate the menu, because dishes are meant to be shared. For two people, my husband and I were told, choosing three to five items from the Snacks, Schmears and Small Plates menu sections would be plenty—alternately, two from those sections and one Large Plate would also be enough. We wanted an overview, so we went the first way.
 
Menu choices represent a culinary melting pot, drawing inspiration from Asian and Jewish cultures as well as regions across America (including the East Coast and South). In addition to wines by the bottle, split and glass, there’s beer on tap and in-bottle, as well as a full page of signature cocktails. We were there for lunch, and so didn’t imbibe—but we’re already planning our return for dinner and drinks.
 
We started with shrimp wontons, which were served with miso mustard and a housemade sweet and sour sauce. They were golden brown, crispy and delicate, and stirring the sauces together delivered a tangy and spicy compliment to the creamy, shrimp-laden filling.
 
Two fried chicken sliders were topped with the same miso mustard, housemade pickles and a crunchy bean sprout slaw. The chicken was tender and juicy inside a crunchy and lightly spiced coating, and the soft, buttery bun brought all the flavors together.
 
The chicken liver mousse, served with grilled Cousteaux Bakery pumpernickel rye, was a delightful surprise. It’s silky texture and earthy richness was countered with pickled shallots, Port wine cracklings and a sprinkle of smoked salt. Its presentation on the plate was artful, and the flavors worked in many different combinations—satisfying and sinful.
 
I love artichokes, but I rarely prepare them because of the time and work involved. So when I spied a wood roasted artichoke on the menu, I started my happy dance. Blanched, grilled then sprinkled with coarse salt, it was served in two halves (perfect for sharing) with lemon and garlic aioli, a grilled lemon and an empty dish for the discarded leaves. Alone, it had a delicate flavor that was enhanced by charred edges from the grill. A squeeze of lemon and a dip in the aioli added depth to the flavor. It got messy, but it was so worth it—and the meaty, flavorful heart finished the dish perfectly.
 
A plate of cherrywood smoked ruby beets was another earthy dish. Bite-sized chunks of sweet, smoky beet were drizzled with a goat cheese Ranch dressing, sprinkled with sunflower seeds for a nutty crunch and pieces of endive, cilantro and microgreens for brightness. It was served chilled and would be perfect to enjoy on the restaurant’s patio on a warm day.
 
The pastrami pork riblets are a fun take on a traditional pastrami sandwich. They’re served in a bowl atop pieces of the same pumpernickel rye and a “mustard miso mop.” We were advised to let them sit a few minutes to let the bread soak up the sauce. The ribs are spiced and cured like pastrami, then served hot and falling off the bone. But the real star is the bread and sauce combination—rich, meaty, buttery and nutty all at once.
 
Our final dish was wood grilled goat brie, served (again) with the same Cousteaux bread, a generous helping of Gravenstien apple butter and smoked almonds. Cutting into the rind, the cheese was thick and gooey, perfect for speading. It’s tangy, elegant flavor, paired with the sweet apple and nuts, was a perfect continental finish.


 

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