YardBird Southern Table & Bar is among America’s most recognisable restaurants. Its two outlets in Miami Beach and Las Vegas have received much praise for their comfort Southern food, which includes their signature Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken that’s made with a 100-year-old family recipe.
Now YardBird has flown into Singapore, albeit under a different name. Renamed to avoid confusion with the Hong Kong izakaya of the same name, The Bird Southern Table & Bar has been open for business since July across the ground floor and basement one of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
The Bird’s menu features numerous Southern classics such as Shrimp ‘N’ Grits, Buttermilk Biscuits and Butter Lettuce and Grilled Mango Salad. But in a nod to its new home, the joint has also incorporated local and seasonal ingredients into the menu. Its crab cakes, for instance, are inspired by local black pepper and chilli crab dishes
Drinks – More than a hundred options
The joint has an extensive drinks menu. Alcohol lovers will be thrilled with more than a hundred options for beers, cocktails, wines, bourbons and whiskeys.
Check out the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade ($27++), which is the restaurant’s signature punch made with Wild Turkey Bourbon, blackberry puree, fresh lemon, cardamom & Angostura Bitters. Tart and tangy, the cocktail is the right amount of sweet.
For a visually arresting drink exclusive to Singapore, try the Sub-Zero Floral Aviation ($24++). A Lavender-scented fog shrouds the gin-based cocktail, which comprises Marugotu Shibori Yuzu, Maraschino Liqueur and Crème de Violette. The drink tastes sharp, yet retains a pleasant flowery taste.
Excellent range of appetisers, salads and sides
The Deviled Eggs ($14++ for 3) are delicious. Prepared with dill, chives, and smoked trout roe, one is simply not enough. But if you prefer something crispier, order the Fried Green Tomato & Crispy Pork Belly ($14++ for 3). Thanks to the pimento cheese and smoky tomato jam, this dish is slightly sweet and salty. It is an addictive combination.
The Butter Lettuce & Grilled Mango Salad ($18++) is excellent. The char-grilled mango cubes are ripe, fresh and juicy, while the smoked pecans provide texture and a savoury counterpoint to the sweet salad.
I found the Macaroni & Cheese ($14) visually appetising but too rich. This dish is supposedly special because it features five types of artisanal cheeses and a crispy herb crust. But I cannot distinguish the various cheeses and feel full after just a few spoonfuls. Only order this if you are a rabid mac and cheese lover.
Mains – Are they worth it?
Most diners will probably order the Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles ($45++; half portion depicted) or the Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken ($35++). The Bird is famous for brining its hormone-free chicken over 27 hours, before it is seasoned and then and fried.
I try the former, and while I’m a huge fan of the dish’s honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, sharp cheddar cheese waffle, and bourbon maple syrup, the chicken does not live up to its mythic status as amongst the United States’ best fried chicken. The chicken is tender but relatively plain – most of the dish’s flavour comes from the honey hot sauce and the outstanding spiced watermelon. I would recommend that you order this to judge the joint’s chicken if you are new to the restaurant. But I will skip this on my next visit and try one of the restaurant’s other mains instead. The restaurant also serves ribs, fish, shrimp and steak.
Go for the Southern sweets!
The Cafe Creme Brûlée (S$16++) is good with its strong coffee flavour, almond orange biscotti and orange gremolata. While tasty, I am not sure if The Bird’s rendition is really that memorable. Likewise, the Banana Pudding (S$14++) is good but not outstanding. Chantilly cream and vanilla wafers sit atop a rum-soaked banana cake, which contains several fresh banana slices.
Instead of these two desserts, I would save space for more distinctive Southern sweets like the Flower Pot Mississippi Mud Pie ($18++), or the baked-to-order Peach Cobbler ($25++). Do allow 25 minutes for preparation.
Verdict – Pricey with a great ambience
Inspired by the Southern United States, The Bird incorporates modern-rustic design with industrial touches. With its glass windows, the industrial-themed ground floor area offers good views of the pedestrian traffic around Marina Bay and al fresco seating. On the other hand, the basement is done up in the style of a rustic barn and features a private dining room that can be configured into two rooms for 6 to 10 people, and a 30-seater semi-private dining room.
The Bird is expensive, and its signature chicken is not out-of-this-world. But its ambience, drinks, and the high quality of food means it is a place worth saving up for. I will probably return again to sample more of its extensive and promising menu.
Another reason to return to The Bird is the good service. The joint appears to have trained its staff well. Staff constantly check in with diners on their meals, are familiar with the menu, and provide expert recommendations on drink pairings. It is certainly a breath of fresh air.
Thank you, Bird Southern Table & Bar, for the invitation.