Looking for a cozy new neighborhood joint? Cafe Birdie has you covered.
Cafe Birdie is everything you want in a cozy, hip neighborhood joint with consistently delicious food. The darkly candle-lit ambiance, scattered cafe tables, and mirror lined booths scream "intimate NYC hole-in-the-wall" while the cafe-light strung brick-walled patio in back beckons you to enjoy the warm California night. The bar is beautiful, and the specialty cocktails are unique and fresh but not over-dramatic. The tables are littered with people enjoying a long dinner, cozy conversation, and the joy of a delicious meal with out the "scene" of most hyped up Los Angeles restaurants. If you don't live in the area, this place is definitely worth the trip.
We went during DineLA, so we were able to easily try the most popular dishes. To start, the Fingerling potatoes immediately called to me. Topped with romesco and manchego cheese, and topped with scallions and a fried egg (YES, always, on everything), they were a fresh and delicious take on my favorite Spanish dish, patatas bravas. The broken yolk mixed beautifully with the romesco, which is typically a roasted red pepper and almond spread - basically a Spanish pesto. The potatoes were crispy, and the scallions added the perfect bite.
Next we tried the Mushroom Toast. Crispy bread topped with chanterelles, creme fraiche, parsley, garlic, and pecorino. The mushrooms were perfectly cooked, and the flavors well balanced.
For our entrees we ordered their most well-known dish, the Moroccan-Spiced Fried chicken with harissa aioli and lime, as well as the Black Pepper Tagliatelle which was house made and tossed with a sunchoke puree, cavolo nero (a type of kale), hazelnuts, and pecorino. The chicken was excellent, really crispy and super-flavorful. We didn't even really need the aioli for the flavor, but it was a nice extra bonus.
The Black Pepper Tagliatelle was interesting. I love sunchokes, but they don't add much flavor-wise. The hazelnuts were a really nice touch, and probably the most flavorful part. The pasta itself was a little too thick and gummy, I prefer fresh pasta to be more on the tender, silky but still al dente side. However, it was definitely unique and satisfying.
The desserts honestly blew me away. They were so rich that we ended up taking one home, which didn't bother me! We started with the chocolate tart, which was topped with vanilla ice cream, hazelnuts, and drizzled with caramel sauce. The mascarpone cheese cake was topped with fresh whip cream, pistachios, and blackberries. I've honestly never had a lighter, more fluffy and delicious cheesecake. The crust was crumbly, buttery and amazing. The whole combination was something I've never tasted before, and I would go back for just that reason!
The LA Factor
While the crowd was slightly hipster, it was definitely not scene-y, and the vibe was very relaxed. I would say the LA Factor was relatively low, in the best way possible. Creative, unique food that's definitely not catering to anyone but your tastebuds.
Tips & Tricks
It was pretty busy for a weeknight, so I would definitely recommend making a reservation. Parking is on the street for the most part, with a few public lots around. While this part of Highland Park is fairly populated, there were some sketchy-looking blocks, so just be aware of that while parking. Also, Highland Park Bowl is right down the street! It's a bowling alley that was built in 1927 and just recently completely restored to reveal the original Spanish Revival vibe. You've never seen a bowling alley like this, and it's definitely worth stopping in, even if it's just for a drink. Or, make a night of it and have friends meet you after dinner! Just make sure to reserve lanes, as there aren't many and it's a popular place.
Located in Highland Park, about a 30 minute drive from West Hollywood. There's tons of bars and things to do in the neighborhood, so I would recommend making a night of it.