Birdsong has appeared on most-anticipated lists since chef Chris Bleidorn announced plans for the San Francisco restaurant nearly a year ago. And last night, the tribute to the Pacific Northwest from the former Atelier Crenn chef de cuisine finally opened in the SoMa neighborhood.
Birdsong is Bleidorn’s first restaurant, and he’s taking the opportunity to channel the region of North America that includes Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. This inspiration comes through in the ingredients, more so than any particular cooking style. According to Eater SF, Bleidorn is sourcing mushrooms, berries, cold water shellfish, and wild game from Washington, Oregon, and the Bay Area. Wines come from Europe as well as from those Pacific Northwest states and British Columbia.
The chef calls the resulting genre “heritage cuisine,” which, he tells Eater SF, is “restorative to the core with the intention to provide an experience that is exciting but also real.” He told Eater last year that his goals for the restaurant were to show “the truth in cuisine” and achieve “harmony of the past and present” — goals he plans to accomplish with techniques like wood-fired cooking, fermenting, dry-aging, and working with wild game.
The restaurant’s airy space also plays into the Pacific Northwest theme, and Bleidorn sourced certain accents from the region. Cast-iron pans displayed in the open kitchen come from Seattle’s Blu Skillet Ironware and steak knives with redwood handles hail from Oregon, Eater SF reports. Meanwhile, San Francisco furniture design firm Jeremiah Collection is responsible for the carpentry and wood finishes throughout the dining room.
Bleidorn, who spent time at Benu, Saison, and Alinea in addition to Atelier Crenn, will eventually bring those fine-dining chops to a 12-course tasting menu and separate a la carte menu. But, Birdsong began service last night serving an eight-course, $135 preview menu showcasing Pacific Northwest bounty, including pacific scallops, giant clams, wild boar, and salt water taffy for dessert.
The food goes beyond farm-to-table, Bleidorn says, and all of it — from the individual dishes to the entire restaurant concept — is subject to change. “As we evolve maybe we will get bored of the Pacific Northwest and pick different cuisines,” Bleidorn said to Eater SF. “Authenticity evolves.”
• Birdsong [Official]
• A Fine Dining Veteran Defines ‘Heritage Cuisine’ in San Francisco [ESF]
• Explore the Designs for Birdsong, a Portal to the Pacific Northwest in the Old AQ Space [ESF]