September 18th, 2015
Bird & Bottle is opening in Santa Rosa on Fourth Street, at the former location of The Italian Affair. (FACEBOOK)
BY DIANE PETERSON THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Mark and Terri Stark are getting close to opening The Bird & the Bottle, their sixth Sonoma County restaurant, in the former Italian Affair space originally built as a home in the early 1900s.
The new restaurant, expected to open before the end of September, holds nearly 120 seats spread out between three, cozy dining rooms both upstairs and down, plus two outdoor decks. The large bar area, serving classic cocktails, wine and beer, features the home’s original fireplace and folding walls that open up onto a 40-seat deck overlooking Fourth Street.
The modern tavern showcases the melting pot of American cuisine, including small and large plates inspired by street food from around the world, especially Asia, with a Southern twist from chef/owner Mark Stark’s childhood in Southern Maryland. The Chef de Cuisine is Eric Foster, most recently at Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar in Healdsburg, which is also owned by the Starks.
The menu revolves around family-style dining, with both small and large plates on the menu designed to share. The open kitchen includes a wood-fired grill for grilling local fish and shellfish, plus a slow smoker for entrees such as the Applewood Smoked Duck with Crispy Skin and 12-hour Smoked Pork Shoulder with Mustard Miso Mop.
Starters include Pickled Gulf Shrimp and Oysters with Pickled Jalapeno Wash. Appetizers designed to be paired with beer range from Terri’s Crispy Crawfish Dumplings to Warm Sesame-Buttermilk Biscuits with Pimenta’ Cheese. Diners can also start off with an array of Schmears, served with Grilled Pumpernickel Rye. The Schmears range from Chicken Liver Mousse with Chicken Cracklings to Smoked Black Cod with Egg Salad and Fresh Horseradish.
Small Plates to share include favorites such as Barbecued Octopus with Bean Sprout-Miso Slaw and KFC Chicken Nuggets with Nashville Hot Sauce. Soups and Sandwiches include a Matzoh Ball Soup (Ramen Style) and a Pork Belly Pastrami BLT.
Mark Stark came up with the restaurant’s name after coming across the term “Hot Bird and a Cold Bottle, while reading the Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink. The double entendre – the hot bird refers to a warm dish and a woman of easy virtue, and the cold bottle refers to champagne – described the late-night pleasures sought by young men in New York City after World War I.
“It just seemed to click,” Stark said. “Bringing the old back to new just seems to be our thing.”
The restaurant’s hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. 1055 Fourth St. 568-4000. starkrestaurants.com or birdandthebottle.com.