Charlie Bird

On the corner of Sixth Avenue and Houston, right below the corner park, is a space that has gone through many different owners over the last decade.  Each attempting to create a restaurant with staying power.  When I drove by about a month ago I noticed a new spot, Charlie Bird.  As a kid I took guitar lessons at the Charlie Byrd studio and it wasn't the best experience so I ignored the restaurant figuring this one would not last either.  Wrong. 

I was hearing from all my foodie friends that I had to go to Charlie Bird.  It is the place of the summer.  I am hoping it will also be the place of the winter.  We went last night and am looking forward to returning.  My pictures are sub-par as I forgot my camera and my phone does not take great pics.  There is a great vibe in there.  Super simple decor matches the simple with a twist menu.  There are 5 sections of the menu (not including dessert).  Raw, Pasta, Small Plates, Vegetables and Large Plates.  The menu is just how I like to eat.  Ramped up simple.  You can share or you can go solo.  There isn't a thing on there that you would not be interested in eating a few times a week which is why Charlie Bird will succeed. 

We started with a bunch of small plates and pastas.  Farro Salad.  Farro mixed with pistachios, chopped mint, Parmigiano cheese and a splash of vinegar.  Delicious.

Grilled Octopus.  Perfectly charrged mixed with speckled brown beans and a hint of green garlic.  Not a garlic fan but did not even notice which is a sign of a good chef.

Knife & Fork Salad is market vegetables, spring greens and vinegar.  Totally seasonal.  Sliced tomatoes with slices of nectarines, basil and braised leeks.  I am sure this salad will just change as the summer continues.

Duck egg spaghetti.  Uni, spring onions and lemon.  Decadent and divine.  They split the pasta up to share which is always a bonus.

Then we went into our large plates and vegetables.  Dry aged ribeye topped with arugula and a salsa verde and shaved parmigiano.  Delicious.

Suckling piglet.  Pulled pork alongside an escarole kimchi and pepper mostarda.  Another winner.

Roasted chicken.  We split it.  Roasted chicken with a crispy skin over a crispy salad with a few croutons, beans and a creamy basil sauce.  Winner.

On the side we had light yet crispy squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and anchovies.  The intensity of the anchovies changed the entire flavor.  Really good.

This is the one dish I did not love.  Grilled summer beans with a baby fish sauce.  Could have been much less heavy handed. 

Had to try dessert.  Lemon pistachio cake with vanilla gelato.  One of my favorite combos.

Strawberry rhubarb with a honey mascarpone and salted oats.

All and all a really good meal and a fun night.  Returning as soon as I return to the city. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    this place mention RAW as a category. I’m intrigued (naturally for LuLitonix) but couldn’t find the menu online.

    1. Gotham Gal

      raw as in oysters, clams.

      1. awaldstein

        Booked to August 20th. Called and asked a favor and going on Saturday.Excited about this one, wine list as well.

      2. awaldstein

        Went and loved it.CitBiked up and had an early dinner there last nite.Chicken, Grilled Octopus, Squid Ink Pasta and the fresh strata-something cheese flown in from Italy.Just dug it. Decor. Flavors . The whole package.and-This is beyond farm to table. Waiter personally knew the farmer, fisherman where everything I ate came from. All small artisans. Big deal to me.-Grant the sommelier spent a bunch of time at the table (no surprise). Great guy and did what I really love, just came over with glass after glass of tastes of stuff off the wine list that he had open. Friuli, Etna, Corsica–heaven for me.Great spot. Second reservation already booked.

        1. Gotham Gal

          the wine list at Little Nell in Aspen (where they come from) is insane. So glad you enjoyed!

          1. awaldstein

            Didn’t know that was where they came from.Been at tastings at that wine bar just next to LIttle Nell a couple of times but honestly, when I ski in Aspen I check a bag and usually bring something along!

  2. LE

    “that has gone through many different owners over the last decade.”This may not apply in NYC but anecdotally I’ve notice that restaurants that go through many different owners in the same location fail quite frequently more than chance. I remember even one restaurant locally that had a sign as if to brag “we’ve been open 2 years!” like it broke the curse on the location. It didn’t because it failed the next year.My theory on this is as follows:People get lured into a “ready to go” situation ignoring potential factors that might be a reason why that location isn’t working. Perhaps competition, perhaps not “low hanging fruit” of customers etc. The reason they ignore those things is that the place is “ready to go” so it’s cheap for them and they go for it. (Existing equipment, venting etc).But since business is about (my theory at least) taking advantage of the “low hanging fruit of opportunity” since others have already proven that there are obstacles at a given location that opportunity may not exist. Of course this all depends on the iteration. After 1 fail probably can’t draw a conclusion. After “many different owners” probably some clear reason why it’s so hard to make it work.May not apply in NYC but I’ve seen it to many times elsewhere.Conclusion: “bargain rent and/or existing ovens and fitout” does not equal “good place for a restaurant” necessarily.Ok here is an actual example.An irish pub type opened in the shopping center across from my office. An upscale area, primarily jewish (deli at least 6 synagogues). When I heard it was opening (in a location that had seen 4 other restaurants) I thought “hmm this won’t work in this location”.Well the first month it was jammed packed you couldn’t get in everybody was trying it.Now, 2 years later it’s pretty empty.Why?The food sucks and the customers haven’t returned. Now this was the owners 2nd location. But the other location did well in a different income area where the food didn’t matter (the beer did). As expected.

    1. Villager

      Actually, before this there has only been one restaurant. Prior to that the space was residential.

  3. Brenda

    “Lemon pistachio cake…” Is that similar to the recipe you posted for your dynamite lemon pistachio cake? Mmmm, mmmm, m!

    1. Gotham Gal

      yep. have to make that again!