You know those "underground" dinner parties you're always clamoring to get into? The ones where the chef is totally gonna be cooking "off the menu" and you'll get to chat him up and feel like you're dining in his very own house and maybe even get a look at his record and wine collection and when you leave you'll kind of feel like you're best buds? Well, Birdie is it.
It's Landon Schoenefeld's (of Haute Dish and of Nighthawks) ultimate dream, it took him well over a decade to realize it, and you're invited. Here's what you need to know — well, at least some of the things you need to know. The rest of it will be a delightful surprise.
Dinner is served Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday beginning at 7:30 p.m. It's a 12-course dinner plus optional wine pairing for an additional $50. The "dinner and a show" — the chef says he wants people to understand that this is dinner and entertainment, too — will last around three hours. He says he might want to get it shaved down to about two and a half hours, but he's not sure that will happen. So, settle in and enjoy the ride.
A ticket for dinner is $100 (ticketing info below), which includes entry, the 12 courses, tax, gratuity, and ticketing fees. The seven accompanying wines are an additional $50, available for purchase onsite. Schoenefeld says he's really trying to stretch both his culinary and wine limits, so don't expect to be drinking the same old hooch at this experience. Tickets are transferrable, but not refundable in any way.
The menu is handwritten each night to allow for last minute changes and inspiration. He's calling the food "seasonal and produce-centric." "I'm known for being meat-centric, and I'm kind of tired of being defined," he says. "I think that as a cook, I can cook anything."
He says he's kind of turning into his "old man" when he goes out to dine. "All I seem to want is a salad and a steak. When I go out to a 12-course meal I don't want to feel like crap afterwards, and often times I do. I don't want to sit down to 12 courses of butter and cream and aged beef and foie gras. Don't get me wrong, I love all of that stuff, but the way I'm explaining it to my culinary team here is I kind of want people to go home and fuck after having this meal. Not to go home and get away from each other and fart."
A current favorite dish is the smoked carrot dumpling (above) by his cook Jessi Peine, and he just took delivery of some "beautiful coriander flowers," so those will make tonight's menu too. (They will do their best to accommodate allergies but not personal likes and dislikes.)
All of Schoenefeld's staff at Birdie are women — Savannah Rose, Brittany St. Clair, Jessi Peine, and pastry chef Tlanezi Guzman-Teipel. This could be meaningful or not, depending on your perspective, but remember that there is a national conversation about gender politics in the kitchen, so from my perspective I see it as progressive and meaningful. And plus, if you're simply fatigued at bearded white guys with tattoos hunching over plates, here ya go. And finally, whether or not you believe that women have a stronger affinity for the flora side of cooking, this could also be significant. Each chef is expected to come to the table every Monday with three or four ideas, and ideally, one of those will be strong enough to make the weekly menu. While the menu will not change in its entirety each week, he hopes 70 to 80 percent of it will.
The original idea for Birdie was supposed to be "a shithole." Meaning, the chef wanted to do the whole deal for under $50,000 — to find a space with a hood, a few pieces of equipment, and a quickie paint job. He was going to call it Carte Blanche. But then the space for Nighthawks came up and because he had an idea for a diner, too, well Carte Blanche became a lot nicer than a shithole. And now it's Birdie.
Each night serves only 12 guests, and Schoenefeld calls this as "high end" as he's ever going to get as a chef. "And it's still pretty casual."
The space includes a couple of long wooden communal tables, some shiny subway tile, and a turntable.
"One of the best things about this is I get to DJ while I cook! So you have to listen to what I want to listen to!" Schoenefeld concedes, though, that he's trying to curate the playlist well, so that it doesn't get "too weird." But just like he wants to push boundaries with the food and the wine, don't expect to be listening to your very own playlist here, either.
It could be Nina Simone. It could be Sonny Rawlins and it could be Phish. It could be all of them. He's got about 500 records. And he said no artwork graces the space.
"The artwork will be on the plate."
Now open, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for 12-course dinners starting at 7:30 p.m.
3753 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
To purchase tickets go to the Birdie website, above.