In February, the much anticipated (by me and many others) The Bird & The Bread officially opened on South Old Woodward in Downtown Birmingham. The fledgling restaurant is a concept of the Jonna family; the name, in fact, was born out of owner Kristin Jonna’s father’s nicknames for her twins. The Jonna family are also owners of Vinology in Ann Arbor, known for its comfortable, yet polished setting, and exceptional menu and wine list. It appears that The Bird & The Bread will follow in those first-rate footsteps.
Back in November, I had the opportunity to feature Vinology here on The Awesome Mitten. The “everyday” wine bar was promoting their 2013 fall menu and wine list, both of which were excellent; my friend and I gorged ourselves on Pumpkin Manicotti, Fried Green Tomato Flatbread, Mini Lamb Kofta, and Tandoori Boston Cod while imbibing on the Fruit Bomb wine flight. From the food and wine, to the ambiance, to visiting with the charismatic part-owner Vinny Jonna, the experience was exceptional. The drive from my native Royal Oak, however, was not.
So when Vinny told us that his family would be opening a new restaurant soon in Birmingham, I was delighted. Fast-forward a few months, I open my inbox to find an invitation to the grand opening of that very venture: The Bird & The Bread. With a casual-yet-refined atmosphere similar to Vinology, and cuisine and beverages just as delicious, The Bird & The Bread was every bit as impressive as I anticipated.
To clarify, the grand opening was actually held in The Elm Room, one of the several unique private dining rooms offered by The Bird & The Bread. We did, however, enter The Elm Room through The Bird & The Bread; the restaurant is bursting with character, with exposed bricks, a wall covered in varieties of wine, and adorned throughout with books. To say it was charming would not do it justice.
With multiple tables of wine featured at The Bird & The Bread, nearly as many beer and non-alcoholic options at the bar, and a smattering of delicious-looking appetizers and desserts in The Elm Room, we could hardly wait to begin our grazing. I started with a glass of Daou Cabernet Sauvignon, while my roommate selected the Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, and we headed to the food table.
Once there we hardly left. An appetizer table with such delights as ratatouille tartlets with goat cheese (my favorite), Scottish salmon crostinis (my roommate’s favorite), and chicken kabobs (one of the items on the noteworthy kids’ menu), and an equally delicious dessert table (featuring a scrumptious creation that we repeatedly referred to as “apple spoons” when we went back for another helping), had plenty to keep us occupied. And since the inventive Jim Leonardo is Executive Chef at not only The Bird & the Bread, but also at Vinology, I knew we would not be disappointed.
I was correct; the food we sampled was both imaginative and delectable (and all made from scratch, as is the case with all of the cuisine at The Bird & The Bread). Leonardo says, “I set out to create a southern European inspired menu that calls to mind French brasseries, Italian trattoria, and Spanish tapas restaurants. The menu features simple ‘hearth oven’ cuisine with pure flavors and less ingredients.” Not to mention there’s a Mitten Burger on the menu. How could you go wrong?
Throughout our nibling, we attempted to try a wide variety of wine (from Fleur Du Cap Chardonnay to Zenato Pinot Grigio delle Venezie) and beer (from Duvel’s Belgian Golden Ale to the Delirium Tremens), but with a full 10 page beverage list, we barely made a dent in the offerings at The Bird & The Bread. Without a doubt, we will be back to continue chipping away at all of the offerings at The Bird & The Bread very soon.