Friday, February 21, 2014

☞ EAT: Mountain Bird Makes More News

Critics have been discovering Mountain Bird on 145th Street and we definitely think the tiny restaurant in the northern reaches of Central Harlem should be the model of success for future eateries uptown.  The New York Observer previously published a scathing article about Red Rooster in the past but just posted a review touting that Mountain Bird serves up the Best Poultry in the City.  Then there is the write-up in Serious Eats which points out that most of the other restaurants opening in Harlem have a lot of hype and fail to deliver but Mountain Bird is the real deal.  A feature in the Village Voice published this week calls the 19-seat boutique restaurant Harlem's newest destination spot.

While bigger flashier establishments have opened in Harlem, Mountain Bird has come out on top because it has done exactly the opposite of the heavy hitters.  First of all the location between upper FDB and ACP is really random and not one of the prettiest areas in town but lines have been formed outside because the strong word of mouth (diners should make a reservation or be prepared to wait).  The focus here is also on food in an approachable environment.  Soft opera music plays in the background instead of loud, trendy current music and there are no television screens.  This all points out to a fine dining experience which has guests paying attention to what's being served and not having diners feel like they are having a night out at the club which is a refreshing change.

Another factor pointed out with all of the reviews is that the cost is really affordable for this quality of better dining.  Most items on the menu are well under $20 and the one or two items that are slightly higher do not even get close to $30 a plate.  Original dishes such as the "head to toe" appetizers or the  ostrich tartare are a revelation to the weary foodie but standards such as cassoulet are approachable to less adventuresome eaters.

Then there is the authenticity of the establishment.  Mountain Bird's husband and wife team literally run the place without much additional help.  Big restaurants have larger staff in the back and front of their businesses but somehow service uptown can be quite spotty.  MB's service is impeccable on all areas and proves that efficiency is more important than having a large staff.  So here's to hoping that those opening restaurants uptown in the near future pay attention to what's going on at Mountain Bird for the formula absolutely works and should be the standard for Harlem.


  1. mountain bird has def hit the right tone and so has a lot of the places in and around hamilton heights and north harlem. People want to know the owners and support nabe places AND also have great food, service and prices. Here's to hoping more small business opens up and follows this model. There are a lot of for rent shops in the area...

  2. The point being here is that there lots of "just okay places for Harlem" as the Serious Eats article points out but not many spots that will get city wide coverage because they are stellar. Harlem Public and The Grange are really the only other two restaurants above 140th Street that fit this profile.

  3. Went to Mountain Bird for the first time the other night. Excellent service, cozy ambience, great food. If I recognized him correctly, saw the maitre d' / owner of Barawine dining there too. Will definitely return.