Two years ago, when we ran down the list of the 10 Best Restaurants in Highland Park, there was barely any room given to trendy, New American, cocktail-heavy restaurants at all. This wasn't just because most of what's great to eat in Highland Park is more along the lines of soul-gratifying Mexican food (though that is the case); it was also because there wasn't much in the trendy-restaurant category to choose from. Sonny's Hideaway was the glaring exception.
Two years later, someone could probably come up with a list of the 10 Best Trendy New American Restaurants in Highland Park, and if not they'll be able to soon. Today comes Cafe Birdie from the Friends & Family Hospitality Group, which also owns Horse Thief BBQ. It's the exact type of restaurant that until recently would have opened in Hollywood or downtown, perhaps. Even Silver Lake didn't have many places like this a few years back. But now Highland Park gets its very own "Cal-Med neighborhood bistro," complete with "seasonally driven menu of small and large plates," craft cocktails and "an immersive space that envelops the visitor in color and texture, transporting them to a whole different world.”
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The chef is Joey Booterbaugh, formerly of the Hungry Cat, and his menu features dishes such as Moroccan-spiced fried chicken with harissa, mint and lime; Manila clams with chorizo, crispy garbanzo beans and green garlic, served with toasted ciabatta; house-made pasta including passatelli with squid ink, Dungeness crab, uni butter, cherry tomatoes and basil; and butcher’s pasta with veal, lamb, ricotta, cavatelli, mint and parsley.
Cocktails are from Courage and Craft Proprietors Nicholas Krok, Ryan Duffy and Jeremy Simpson. Press materials say they "range from light weekend sippers to dinner nightcaps, inspired by Booterbaugh’s menu and designed to pair perfectly with your meal."
Cafe Birdie will be open 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. Weekend brunch is in the works.
Cafe Birdie, 5631 N. Figueroa, Highland Park; (323) 739-6928. cafebirdiela.com.