Put Harlem’s Mountain Bird Restaurant On Your Winter Itinerary

A variety of poultry as a meat sampler dish at Harlem's Mountain Bird restaurant

Three things struck me immediately upon sitting down in the pretty little room on West 145th Street that's home to the improbable French-ish restaurant Mountain Bird: 1. everything on the menu sounds awesome; 2. at these prices I can get three or four things and not feel guilty; and 3. this place would be mobbed if it was in the West Village.

Opened last Fall to pretty much zero hype, Mountain Bird has quietly been delighting Harlem residents for months now, and given Chef Kenichi Tajima a luxurious amount of time to really settle in to his fowl-focused menu. If you want to eat here while it's still even slightly a secret, I suggest getting on the subway and heading uptown soon. Might also be a good spot for Valentine's Day dinner!

Interior seating at the Mountain Bird in Harlem

The Dining Experience at Mountain Bird

It was freezing cold and on the early side of dinnertime when I went to Mountain Bird last week, but there were a few obvious regulars already in place at the rustic/elegant, 19-seat restaurant, warming themselves with hearty cassoulets and rich, steaming soups. I started with the Warm Pumpernickel Baguette, served with a crock of Vanilla Butter, and I suggest you do the same: it's big and crunchy and the vanilla adds an unexpected lift.

Chef Tajima is a firm believer in using every part of his bird, but though his four-piece Head to Toe snack plate includes such exciting "tasty bites" as a Chicken Combs Cutlet and Duck Gizzard and Heart Roll, I fear he's covered up the core ingredients too much with frying and sauces. Don't get me wrong, it's all really good, but I still don't know what a chicken comb tastes like under all that breading and honey mustard.

Bowl of the Mountain Bird's Mac and Cheese

Chef Kenichi Tajima's Flavorful Dishes

There are plenty of big, satisfying flavors to be had at here, however. In lieu of soup I went straight for the Shrimp Bisque Mac and Cheese (shellfish is the only non-bird proteins on the Mountain Bird menu), and was rewarded with a thick, chewy bowl of whole wheat pasta redolent with the sweet, briny shellfish. Finally, for my entree, a mountain of Moulard Duck served two ways: a grilled, thinly sliced breast and a wonderfully fatty, salty leg confit. This was by far the most expensive thing on Mountain Bird menu, and it was still only $23. I skipped dessert–I had a movie to get to on 84th Street–but next time, Mountain Bird, your Sticky Toffee Pudding Walnut Fig Cake is mine!  

Mountain Bird's Duck dish cooked rare accompanied with veggies and a potatoe

More Information: Mountain Bird in Harlem

Mountain Bird is located on West 145th Street between Frederick Douglas and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards, a couple of blocks away from the A,B,C,D trains to the west, and the 3 train to the east. Mountain Bird serves dinner from 5:00 to 10:00 on Tuesday through Thursday, until 11:00 on Friday and Saturday, and until 9:00 on Sunday. Chef Tajima also cooks a $15 brunch on Sundays, from 11:30 to 3:30. Closed Monday. Check out Mountain Bird's menu!

The exterior of Mountain Bird's Harlem location, painted white with large windows 

Posted in NYC Dining, Other Neighborhoods, Westside |