Holidays are triggering for most people. You’re surrounded by distant relatives, answering the same invasive questions as last year, and debating how soon is too soon to start drinking in your childhood bedroom. But for all the social anxiety and awkward conversations that occur, a holiday can always be saved by one thing - a great meal. Dishes you only see once a year, spread across a giant table... it’s not just about eating good food, it’s about embracing a sentimentality that sets this meal apart from all the others throughout the year.
That’s exactly the effect a meal at Birdie G’s will have on you. With tremendous comfort food that manages to be both familiar and interesting, this Santa Monica spot has built a restaurant experience that’s intrinsically nostalgic and also completely new.
Located on an industrial stretch near Bergamot Station, Birdie G’s looks more like an Arts District mega-restaurant than a comfort food spot in the middle of inland Santa Monica. There are exposed rafters, cement brick walls, and a long bar looking into an open kitchen. If that all sounds familiar to you, it’s because - as nice as it is - the interior doesn’t look much different from other upscale restaurants these days. Luckily, once you examine the menu, you’ll realize you won’t be grinding through another over-priced, run-of-the-mill meal tonight. Birdie G’s serves comfort food, but it’s comfort food we’ve never seen inside an LA restaurant before.
This isn’t to say Birdie G’s leans on obscure ingredients or elaborate plating to make their most familiar dishes seem interesting. In fact, it’s the opposite. Whether it’s a sweet and savory Sloppy Joe on Texas toast, house-made matzo with cultured butter, or Dungeness crab cakes in a shrimp bisque, Birdie G’s is unrelenting in creating an experience that feels like an elevated version of your childhood. Maybe you grew up eating some of these things, maybe you didn’t - that’s not the point. Everything that hits the table at Birdie G’s is so unique that even dishes you’ve never had before will invoke some form of personal nostalgia.
Birdie G’s menu is large - a little too large - but at the end of the day, a marathon holiday meal without leftovers is a meal we want nothing to do with. You’ll order perfectly roasted chicken in a tropical sauce, sweet noodle kugel that could pass for dessert, and a plate of brei (a soft-scrambled egg topped with matzo, pork belly, fried oysters, and spicy hollandaise) that reads like something your mom made when there was nothing in the house, but still made it work. At $59, you might pass on the caviar platter, but it’s essentially a build-your-own latke station and one of our favorite things at Birdie G’s. Will you have room for the figgy duck with polenta or spicy Italian ravioli that we’d put against any in town? Probably not, but you’ll order them anyway, because at this point, you just want the meal to keep going.
When the time does come to pack up and leave, you’ll probably have forgotten you were inside a restaurant and not at some extended family gathering. That’s a tremendous feeling to have, particularly because no great aunt asked you why you can’t keep a significant other.
Everything on Birdie G’s Texas toast section (yes, there’s an entire section) is worth ordering, but if we had to choose a winner, it would be the Sloppy Jeremy. Topped with beef-strawberry bolognese and goat cheese, it may very well be the best thing on sliced bread, and that’s definitely not a superlative we thought we’d be giving out anytime soon.
Yes, its $59 price tag is scary, but know that it’s essentially a build-your-own latke station and perfect for sharing among four adults. The caviar itself is fantastic, but it’s the tiny potato waffles on the side that everyone will be talking about on the way home. Top it with roasted capers, green onions, and everything seasoning and you have one of the best single bites at Birdie G’s.
You know you’re doing it right when you’re at a restaurant where a giant plate of cheese feels like the healthy dish. Mixed with capers, basil, anchovies, and fermented tomato vinaigrette, there’s definitely a lot going on here, but the fragrance of the basil and sourness of the anchovies cut through the burrata perfectly.
With a menu as vast as Birdie G’s, you might wonder if you even need to order something off the seafood section. Update: You do, and it needs to be this crab and prawn cake. The cake itself is plump and perfectly cooked, and the shrimp bisque it’s sitting in gives it just the right amount of moisture.
This traditional Jewish casserole will easily be the most polarizing dish that hits your table. It’s a solid version of the Shabbat staple, but the ricotta and tomato chutney make it too sweet for an early-in-the-dinner dish. We would like it more if it was on the dessert menu.
This dish made us angry. Not because it was bad - it’s incredible. But a restaurant doing so many different things shouldn’t be able to pull off one of the best ravioli dishes we’ve eaten in LA in a long time, right? Wrong.
We fell in love with Birdie G’s when this dish hit the table. It’s essentially a giant omelette topped with matzo, pork belly, fried oysters, and spicy hollandaise, and by all visual accounts, a complete mess. But everything balances out perfectly, making this objectively unrefined dish an absolute must-order.
You’re going to be tempted to get the “world-famous rose petal pie” for dessert, but this is the dish you really want. It’s certainly simple, but after an objectively indulgent dinner, straightforward tastes fantastic.