New York is full of unusual restaurants. But none of them are quite like Mountain Bird.
When you hear the facts, they sound like something out of a weird 21st century children's book: The restaurant is run by a Japanese couple, and they serve almost exclusively poultry. The husband cooks up all the parts of all the birds, right down to the gizzards, mostly using traditional French styles, while his wife runs the front of house in a clumsily endearing way. The whole thing goes down in a quaint little room complete with monogrammed plates that feels like a countryside bed and breakfast, but is actually in Harlem. It's as if you're eating in the couple’s living room (which you kind of are). To top it all off, the server is wearing fashionable gray sweatpants. Also - the restaurant keeps changing locations.
Mountain Bird flies all over, refusing to stay perched in one place. We first experienced the restaurant in its short lived location on West 145th Street, and promptly hung an 8.6 rating, calling Mountain Bird "one of the most unique and delicious meals that we can remember."
Now it's moved to a new location in East Harlem, in the small dining room of a catering company called Tastings. It may or may not be permanent - we couldn't get a straight answer. The new spot isn't quite as cozy as the original, as it lacks the quirky homeyness of their first location, and is the main reason for the rating reduction. The food and overall experience, however, are still great and we’re psyched we got another chance to try New York's best cassoulet again. Haven’t had a cassoulet since Grandma made one when you were 7? Theirs is a glorious winter stew featuring cockscomb and duck leg, and it’s incredible.
There’s something a little off about Mountain Bird, which is the exact reason why we love it so much. It’s not like the service is great, or the dining “experience” part of it is impressive. It’s not. But the people are just so damn nice, and so earnest - the wife actually remembered us from eating in her restaurant a year and a half ago. Most importantly, the food is awesome and it’s different from what you see on every other menu. They make unfamiliar parts of a chicken seem approachable, if not totally desirable. We tried to enjoy the gizzard salad, but just couldn’t do it.
Ultimately, we love Mountain Bird for being different, for being creative, and for serving cockscomb. If you live on the Upper East Side and are desperate for a great new restaurant to go to, you’re in luck. Turns out this place is totally for real.
Bite Sized "From Head To Toe" Sampler
The description pretty much says it all - small tasty bites of bird parts. The full will get you one each of the following: Cock's Combs Cutlet with Honey Mustard Tartar Sauce, a Crispy Roll with Chicken Heart aka à la Bourguignonne Puff, Chicken Liver Mousse with Cranberry Nuts BonBon, and a Chicken Wing Lollipop with Black Truffle Dressing. You'll enjoy them all. You may even want a few extra chicken wings.
Foie Gras Dumpling Consommé
A rich, decadent, delicious dumpling soup that may just blow your mind. Every one at the table should get one of these. Seriously. This (chicken) soup is unbelievably good.
Frisse & Gizzard Salad
Want to get down with some gizzards? This salad is the way to do it. An alternative take on the classic French frisée salad, just with gummy gizzards that have the texture of snails, instead of bacon. We double dare you.
Ostrich Tartare Crostini
We had no idea that one could a) eat an ostrich or b) eat it raw. Now we know, and we're better for it. It tastes a lot like steak tartare, just not quite so meaty. It's topped with crispy shallots, which add lots of flavor and a little bit of texture. Order it
Black Truffle Wings
While the singular lollipop wing in the sampler hits the spot, a full order isn't necessary. If you absolutely love truffle, you will probably like these. They're really rich, and really heavy on the balsamic truffle reduction sauce.
Mountain Bird Cassoulet
Quite possibly the best cassoulet we've ever had, not that we eat a lot of the stuff. This is one warm bowl of heavy happiness.
A roasted breast and a braised leg atop garlic mashed potato, carrots, and some turkey bacon. This is one of the "safe" dishes on the menu, in that it does not contain scary guts. It's also a really good plate of food.
A perfectly cooked, very delicious schnitzel. This needs to be at your table.
Seared Sea Scallops
Yup, there are a couple other options other than bird, one of which, the scallops, you should definitely consider ordering. The scallops are perfectly cooked and the apple cider brown butter sauce that accompanies the celery cauliflower puree is so sweet, and so good.
BBQ Turkey Burger?
Mountain Bird fam, what happened to the turkey burger?? They used to serve one of the best, now it's sadly off the menu.
You're going to want to take advantage of a spread like this. Definitely consider the sticky toffee or the apple tart.