Washington, D.C., just got a new “beak-to-talon” restaurant called The Bird that serves 13 different varieties of fowl, and the check comes in a fake bird’s nest complete with an egg. That’s really cool and all, but Washington is known as Los Angeles for Ugly People for a reason, and it’s pretty full of Republicans.
San Francisco has a restaurant known as The Bird, too, and it’s a much simpler affair. It’s a project by the tireless Adriano Paganini and his Back of the House restaurant group — consisting of Beretta, Super Duper, Belga, and many others — which explicitly states “86 the Bullshit” as their mantra. You won’t find bullshit (or guano, for that matter) at The Bird, which has a menu as stripped-down as a boardwalk hot dog stand — for now, anyway. You can get a free-range fried chicken sandwich (mild or spicy, $8), curly fries ($2.50), and a hot ice cream sandwich ($3.50). That’s it. Even the beer, cans and bottles only, are stacked in tiers according to their prices, all in the $2-$5 range. (Go ahead, get a Hamm’s!) It’s probably a little soul-crushing to work in such a place, making the exact same thing over and over — although maybe not, if you’re all about pursuing perfection in your craft. Simpler still, it’s only open from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on weekdays (which is still an extra hour of availability compared with Temescal’s gold standard for fried chicken, Bakesale Betty).
In any case, The Bird’s bird is thickly breaded and spicy in a slow-building, berbere blend way, with tons of house-made apple slaw, celery, and pickles falling out of its red-and-white checkered sleeve. The curly fries are curly fries, about which little description is needed — although there’s an option to get them loaded, with cheese, sour cream and bacon. But the hot ice cream sandwich is quite clever. Like a hermit crab It’s-It that left its home for a thicker shell, it’s served in a bun that’s almost like a brioche. Eating it before it melts could be hard if you have sensitive teeth, but it’s a most satisfying snack. Paganini’s mounting reputation as San Francisco’s king of fast-casual is well-deserved. This is one time when you should let the bird flip you.
The Bird, 115 New Montgomery St., 415-872-9825 or thebirdsf.com