Bird is a cozy wine bar and restaurant by Shanghai Supper Club ringleader and restaurateur Camden Hauge (Egg, Lucky Mart, Bitter). Wine offerings here tick the requisite France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Australia boxes, of course. But you'll also find a few surprises from places like Greece and New York's Finger Lakes region, too. Natural wines are marked with an asterisk. Food is global cooking with big ambition on small plates. They do lots of one-off events, usually involving wine and wine tastings.
Oh, Bird. You’ve been on my to do list since you opened. I was really looking forward to trying your stylish small plates in your trendy little space. You’re so near my apartment that I hoped you might become a regular treat venue.
Bird – we need to talk.
Flavours, Bird. You’re good at flavours! Our BBQ corn came with a lovely butter and the perfect smokiness. The mapo tofu, topped with mashed potato and melted cheese, was deliciously hearty. That honey, with the goat yoghurt cheese and spiced crackers, worked beautifully. I’m not picking at your flavours, Bird.
It’s the other stuff we need to talk about. The fact that our BBQ corn arrived so cold that the butter on top wouldn’t melt. The fact that our little plate of cheese cost 98rmb, and that a tiny bottle of soda is 35rmb (we paid 304rmb in total for three small dishes and two sodas). The – and I’m sorry about this, but it’s true – absence of customers on a Sunday evening, when you were almost impossible to get a reservation at a few months ago.
Bird – you’re not perfect. Neither am I, though. Let’s give it another chance.
Bird is a cool, minimalist little place with the perfect roof terrace. It’s good for small plates, wines and spritzes. It would make a good date venue, especially if you wandered next door to Bitter after your meal.
The Beef: Bird has a loyal flock of fans in Shanghai, and it’s not hard to see why. The creative, not to mention insta-worthy dishes seem to be updated to make use of seasonal ingredients. A girly brunch date was made, and off to Bird it was.
The place itself is small and intimate – bar seating, window seating, and a single long table for groups, in total you can cram in around 25ppl. Upon entering on a 12:30 weekend day, the kitchen was already bustling and servers were busy scrambling behind the bar, and shuttling in and out of the door (sending food next door to sister café/bar Bitter next door).
Without anyone to greet us, we sat ourselves by the only available seats along the window. It was a nice view of all the activities on Wuyuan Lu on a slightly drizzly day. Maybe it’s the old age, but instantly I felt the backless high stools were not doing it for me. No place for my bag either, where were the hooks under the table? This forced me to place my bag behind me, giving my ass even less comfort and space.
The food menu looked great, however. Our appetizers. The kidney bean dish was carefully composed with dollop of smooth-as-butter hummus. The broccolini was roasted and charred perfectly, each bite so intense. I was not as much a fan of the two mains we had, however. The crab was rather too much flavor, too briny, too umami, too seafood-y (which I’m usually not put off by). It was also logistically challenging to eat as a benedict dish, so I ended up eating the crab on its own then dissecting the bottom part separately. The double sliders tasted bland and way less interesting than they looked, even with the two pretty green sauces. Squash fries were oily and soggy, could have been easily be mistaken for avocado fries without the nutty flavor. Portion sizes on the small side.
The Motive: This place seems more of a girly date spot, although not really a brunch place where you can plop down and leisurely chat through the afternoon over drinks (a la seating situation). Suggest popping into Bitter after your meal.
The Damage: 118rmb for brunch set (1 app + 1 main). Select mains require additional+20rmb.
The Down n’ Dirty: Free (and clean) as a Bird splattering in the garden birdbath.
Since moving here I’ve been searching for a Western brunch that is a bit more inspiring than an eggs benny or smashed avo on toast (yawn). And by that I don’t mean throw truffle and lobster at it and charge through the nose. I’d heard many good things about the menu at Bird and they certainly delivered.
Nestled in a quiet area on Wuyuan lu the entrance dons a modern black window pane that allows natural light to stream through and warm the rattan style interiors. You can either dine downstairs in an intimate area on stools overlooking the kitchen or climb the spiral staircase to the terrace and join the party.
Greeted by a bold Aperol Spritz drink cart and the sweet sounds of 70s disco it’s a fun atmosphere. The menu has a selection of seasonal small plates with many featuring local flavours.
Dishes of mention:
Tomato ratatouille, poached egg, basil, dark farm toast –beautifully sweet and buttery
Mapo tofu, mashed potatoes, cheese crust – Definitely the stand out. Unlike the rest of the menu this is a ‘go hard or go home’ dish. A Chinese style shepherds pie that has a generous layer of cheese with just the right amount of Sichuan sting that you can still function for the rest of the day.
Service is worth noting as there was a slight delay to our meal (only because the guy next to us loved his meal so much that he ordered another!). The staff were very apologetic and provided coffees on the house.
Bird is a good example of less is more. It reminded me of the type of creativity I used to see in some of the brunch spots down under. The minimalistic theme was evident from the décor through to the dishes. Heres hoping that come winter the mapo-tofu number is still on the menu!
SmartShanghai.com is an independent media publication dedicated to honesty and editorial transparency. We are for Shanghai residents,
written by a team of long-term, opinionated and knowledgeable writers and editors. We never give an opinion or recommendation that we
wouldn’t also share with our own friends and family.