Charlie Bird in Soho: A Delicious Italian Party
Charlie Bird, the wildly successful Itailan-ish spot that somehow comfortably crams a city’s worth of scenesters every night into its awkward narrow space, was at or near the top of just about every “best new restaurant” list last year. People love the casual atmosphere, the wine list, and the food. Anchoring the western end of what is possibly today’s most exciting restaurant “neighborhood,” the Houston Street corridor, Charlie Bird and NYC are having an intense love affair at the moment. But for various reasons (it’s a tough table, it’s a little pricey), I hadn’t been to Charlie Bird until finally getting the opportunity just last week… and man am I glad I took it.
Friendly Service and Boom Box Prints Create Atmosphere
Even at 6pm on a Tuesday, the place was hopping, buzzing with an impeccably dressed, expensively accessorized crowd. The music is great–mostly old school hip hop, with a couple of wild cards thrown in. The service is impressively warm and friendly. The room fells much more spacious than it reall is, with a short bar and some tables on the lower level, and the main dining area taking up all of the upper tier, which is dominated by large prints of boom boxes. You can see why people want to linger here long after the feasting is done.
Charlie Bird’s Lives Up to the Hype
And feasting is most certainly appropriate at Charlie Bird. I tried more than a half dozen dishes on this night and there wasn’t a clunker among them. The Razor Clams with fennel and chilis lived up to the hype, a terrific briny/spicy/salty/licorice-y/slippery/crunchy mash up. The Farro Salad is a must-order as well, the chewy grains paired with pumpkin, pistachio, mint, and parmigiano, and the Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad is pretty first-rate, too.
A Feast Worthy of a Crowd, Which You Can Expect
I’ve heard that all of the Charlie Bird pastas are excellent, but I can only vouch for the Spaghettini Nero, with its hefty chunks of crab, fiery chilis, and deeply inky noodles. By the time we got to our entree–the famous Roasted Chicken stacked atop an intense “crispy bits salad” and a scoop of amazing chicken liver; plus a side of crunchy roasted Brussels Sprouts–we were already full, but that didn’t stop us from polishing it all off anyway, Nor did it prevent us from ordering dessert, which was an excellent Coconut Panna Cotta. Charlie Bird feels like a special occasion sort of place to me, or, say, a fourth-date spot. Though we were seated immediately as 5:30pm walk-ins, don’t expect to get a non-reserved table much later than that. But if you enjoy this sort of scene from time to time (and it can be energizing), this is the place.
Charlie Bird Location and Hours
Charlie Bird is located at Sixth Avenue and King Street, just south of Houston, and is open every day at 5:30 for dinner (until 11:00 Sunday through Thursday; until 12:00 Friday and Saturday) and for lunch/brunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
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