Becoming Out of Tune at Birdsong

What started off as a high potential dining experience at Birdsong was quickly ruined when the waitstaff did a major error by serving yours truly a bacon dish instead of eggplant. As most of you know, I am a strict non-red meat eater, meaning I don't eat anything that has touched red meat since I was 14 years young. No pork broth. No picking out bacon. Nothing of that sort. Especially in a newly minted Michelin restaurant, you know that it would be hard to climb out of this hole with a service error this big even when my food preference was communicated in advanced and we corrected the waitstaff on who gets the meat menu before the food came. The devil is all in the details, after all.

The culprit: spot the bacon vs. eggplant.

The Good
Hints of being detail oriented at Birdsong are evident when the first question that was asked is whether I'm left or right-handed. Staying true to their earthy cooking traditions, a smokey smell permeates in the restaurant where my dining party was seated, in front of the chef's prep table. I also took note of the artfully decorated establishment, which I learned was designed by the owners, and the customized cutlery and serving dishes from different parts of the world.

Like many San Franciscan restaurants, dishes are concocted with seasonal, local ingredients. Below is the creek raised Northern Californian, cured trout eclosed in warmed cedar on a bed of pine. One of the chefs noted that they picked up the pine during a drive in Big Sur - I don't know if that was meant to be a joke!


My favorite from the loot is the simple but tasty bbq carrots with elderberries.

The wow factor in presentation came in the most unexpected way. It was stated as 'broth of toasted bones', which sounded as the simplest item on the menu, but came in full colorful glory with aged radish and edible flowers. The well-seasoned black cod also had an intriguing presentation, first covered in malabar spinach that looked semi-glossed than the normal.


So pretty to eat this broth of toasted bones. 
End result of the black cod. How do you make the spinach look like this glossy but not wilted?
In this duck sequence, the sprouted buckwheat tartlette with liver leg ham (middle) won me over by a mile, while I really wanted to not finish the innards (bottom), which left an unwanted after taste.
The Bad
Because this meal was part of my friend's birthday celebration, I really wanted to keep an upbeat attitude so as not to ruin the entire experience. When they first made a boo-boo giving me the customized menu with red meat, as minor as it seems, was indicative that somehow communication broke down from email to the kitchen to the server who presented the menu to our group.

This reminds me of another dining moment in a Bib Gourmand establishment in Florence when a neighboring patron started sobbing because she ate meat, which was not written on the menu, in her dish. She later mentioned that she was on her no-meat diet for the past 3 months only! Anyhow, she became so anxious, started to sob heavily and dramatically left the restaurant without paying together with her dining buddy. True story.

I, on the other hand, sat through the entire meal with grace and a smile on my face.

Is that bacon or eggplant (bottom right)?  
And the Ugly
Then the guinea hen yakitori came on a bed of feathers. This is a very risky move that would sway you one way or the other. Despite a creative and photographic take on this dish, which I thought could add brownie, Instagram points on its earthy ensemble, my dining buddies thought the opposite. They deemed it to be inappropriate and questioned the cleanliness and whether the feathers would cause an allergic reaction to those who are highly sensitive.

The yakitori fell on the feathers while I was taking one-handed pics.
Case in point, I did see a small feather-like item that came with the giant clam bowl. It was later dismissed by the server as a line that was part of the bowl, even though I was able to touch and move it around.
parker roll
The bowl in question came with clams only then later poured with buttermilk whey.
Mrs. Meyers dessert anyone? 
If you are not a fan of Mrs. Meyers (think notes of pine and basil), then you probably will not be enthused on desserts from Birdsong. I, on the other hand, am a big fan of fresh herbs turned into sweet degustation so the pine needle sorbet with pomegranate and sorrel, and apple pie with thyme ice cream desserts sat well with my palette.

For the food nerds, sorrel is a garden herb that looks similar to spinach. It provides a hint of citrus/lemon taste to dishes.

The refreshing pine needle sorbet with pomegranate and sorrel.
After all that is said and done, their major misstep of serving a non-red meat eater bacon despite being forewarned and corrected at the start of the meal is a testament to lack of staff communication and training, which alludes me to not recommending Birdsong for experiential dining for its price point ($185 for prix-fix dinner as of January 2019). I'm sorry that apologies just don't cut it at this point.

Given that my favorite dish is the bbq carrots though, I challenge them to an all-vegetarian menu, and, of course, do more training. Maybe then, Birdsong will sing the right tune.

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