L.A. is home to transplants from all over the world, but today, we’re most thankful for a son of Cleveland.
That’s because Jeremy Fox—best known for his vegetable-forward, hyper-seasonal cooking at Rustic Canyon and Napa’s Ubuntu—is flipping his culinary script and returning to his Midwest roots and Southern ties to bring Santa Monica one of the most creative stick-to-your-ribs menus the city’s seen yet: the kind of meal where there’s caviar dolloped onto your latkes and the blue-plate special is Mongolian tri-tip with bone-marrow–fried farro (and that’s just on Wednesdays).
Birdie G’s soft-opens tonight with limited reservations in the historic Bergamot Station, a former art gallery, train stop and celery packing plant now fresh-faced from a revamp to accommodate the restaurant’s massive open kitchen and seating for 150. Enter through the alleyway, pass the patio and find yourself in an airy warehouse space now home to Fox’s latest, a highly anticipated concept that’s just as much an ode to his childhood memories and formative meals as it is to California produce and the peckish, shareable Angeleno style of dining.
There’s family in nearly every dish, whether they’re Fox’s own grandmother’s recipes, which he recreated from memory, or the chicken scaloppine from chef de cuisine Brittany Cassidy, an ode to her mom. The wine list from Kathryn Coker, Rustic Canyon Family’s vino go-to, takes inspiration from the somm’s own grandmother who, by the way, still drinks a glass of wine every night, even at 96 years of age. There’s even family hidden in the welcoming aw-shucks name: “Birdie,” for Fox’s daughter, and “G,” for his grandmother, Gladys—this is a roots-bound, down-home restaurant serving BBQ spare ribs, crab cakes, potato salad and pot roast. Of course, this is a Jeremy Fox affair, so nothing is so straightforward as all that.
Just look to the section of the menu dedicated to Texas Toast, where hearty Midwest open-face sandwiches get the California treatment. There’s the JJ’s Lone Daughter Avocado made with chili, fennel pollen, lemon and crispy sunchokes; the Sloppy Joe take, the Sloppy Jeremy, with arugula, beef-and-strawberry bolognese, and horseradish goat cheese; a sweetbreads-loaded wood-grilled slice of bread that's cubed and dipped into duck jus and Banyuls; and a chicken liver mousse variety with caramelized-onion–and–Manischewitz jam.
On the note of Manischewitz, Fox’s European and Jewish heritage gets sprinkled throughout the menu in some seriously fun interpretations: Matzo gets coated in toffee, chocolate and peanuts to create a crunchy dessert bark, while the matzo ball soup gets an injection of carrot miso. There’s noodle kugel with black-pepper fusilli, ricotta, nectarine chutney and pistachio, and the German potato salad’s no stranger to honey mustard and smoked mushroom.
Don’t let the blue-plate specials fool you, either: The daily old-school–inspired dishes turn familiar concepts on their head thanks to unconventional ingredients every night of the week. Monday sees brisket, but with bone marrow and slaw; Thursday’s pot roast isn’t of chuck but of tongue, with kasha, carrots and horseradish; and that Mongolian tri-tip with bone marrow gets buried under a mountain of rice-cracker strands.
There’s more straightforward fare, too, especially on the sections paying homage to California-raised meats and West Coast seafood: grilled lamb with dill rice; steamed mussels; crab-and-prawn cakes; a range of cuts for steak frites. If you’re beginning to feel like the Birdie G’s menu is as large as the United States, that’s because it lifts inspiration from most of it. Better bring some friends to tackle the it, no matter where they hail from—there’s probably something on there that reminds them of home.
Take a peek at the Rustic Canyon Family’s latest, below, then drop by tonight for latkes, blue-plate specials and more of Fox’s signature farmers-market fare at the opening:
Birdie G’s soft-opens tonight, June 21, at Bergamot Station, located at 2421 Michigan Ave in Santa Monica. Soft opening hours are Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 10pm, and Friday and Saturday 5 to 11pm.