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Cafe Birdie

PHOTOS: Jakob Layman

Life is hard sometimes. Work never ends, your roommate eats your leftovers and lies about it, and the person you steal HBOGo from just canceled their subscription. And that’s just today. Adulthood is a never-ending parade of trials and tribulations, and if you don’t find those outlets to get you through it all, you might never make it. So thank god for Cafe Birdie - the only place we want to be after a week from hell.

Just by walking into this Highland Park spot, you're immediately put at ease. It’s not small, but the main dining room - with scattered marble tables and wooden beams overhead - feels like you’re visiting your rich aunt’s French provincial home for the holidays. (She might even have drugs for you, but you’ll have to wait a night before she tells you they’re above the fridge next to the Cliff bars.)

Anyways, you’re early and immediately notice the crowded bar off to the left and want a drink. Resist though, and instead head out the back, through the patio, and into a detached little building with a bar called Good Housekeeping inside. The tiny, brick-walled speakeasy feels like you stumbled into a private whiskey society, but trust us, you’re in the right place. Its low-key vibe and tremendous cocktails are the ideal pre-dinner experience. Plan accordingly.

Jakob Layman

Back in the main restaurant and thoroughly buzzed from your cocktails, you open up the menu and find it a bit all over the place. Steak tartare toast? Fried Chicken? Pork ragu? Relax, you’ve had enough stress this week. Whatever Cafe Birdie’s menu seemingly lacks in cohesion, it makes up for in sweet, unadulterated comfort. This might not be the most refined cooking in town, but it’s COOKING. The kind you grew up with and ate a lot of at family gatherings until you passed out in the basement watching cartoons with your cousins. And until you’ve tasted it again, you’ve forgotten just how good that feels.

This isn’t to say Cafe Birdie is some sort of red sauce slop fest. We’d come here for a sexy date night any day of the week, then turn around and do it again. We’d round up our friends, drink some cocktails at the bar, and laugh hysterically about whether balancing your checkbook is a thing you should be doing or not. Whatever your circumstance (or life anxiety) might be, Cafe Birdie is simply here to make it all ok for an evening. No drugs necessary.

Food Rundown

Forget Me Not

Just because Good Housekeeping in the back has great cocktails, doesn’t mean the fun ends when you sit down for a meal. This mezcal-based drink infused with pineapple and egg whites is an absolute must-order.

Jakob Layman
Autumn Salad

You probably either love Gorgonzola or you think it's the devil's cheese. But when it comes on a salad loaded next to dried pears, figs, dates, walnuts, and everything else that reminds you of fall, you're only choice is to love it.

Jakob Layman
Moroccan-Spiced Fried Chicken

We have no idea how they cook this, but we’re not ones to ask magicians how they do their tricks. Just order it and experience the magic firsthand.

Jakob Layman
Steak Tartare Toast

The steak itself is great. However, there’s a strong lime/citrus component to the whole thing that doesn’t totally work.

Jakob Layman
Braised Meatballs

Despite being a touch crumbly, we would get these every single time because that potato puree sex bath at the bottom is life-changing.

Jakob Layman
Pork Cheek Ragu

There is no way, under any circumstance, this should be this good. The noodles are perfectly al dente, and the pork cheek doesn’t really require chewing. Order this or don’t bother coming.

Jakob Layman
Black Pepper Tagliatelle

The reality is this is a pretty heavy dish. But a dish that you absolutely must order. The pasta is cooked perfectly, and whatever that creamy sauce is on top, we will take in a to-go bowl, thank you.

Jakob Layman
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