The Third Bird nests among Minneapolis’ most beautiful restaurant real estate, with super-high ceilings, an expanse of south-facing glass, and a picturesque view of Loring Park—not to mention the one alley in the city with enough curves and cobblestone to make a romantic forget Paris. And yet the space’s two previous inhabitants—Café Maude at Loring, and before that Nick and Eddie—couldn’t make it work.
Kim Bartmann, the restaurateur whose Barbette launched a Twin Cities dining empire, is putting to the test the old adage about the third time being the charm. In her favor, she’s on a roll—Bird is the third restaurant she opened in 2014, on the heels of sushi joint Kyatchi and the eco-conscious Tiny Diner—and she hosted her wedding reception in the space.
With consulting assistance from Steven Brown (chef/owner of Tilia) and sommelier Bill Summerville (Spoon and Stable), Bartmann has settled on a concept and menu that feel both contemporary and approachable—though not particularly bird-focused, save for the signature roast chicken. Chef Lucas Almendinger, who most recently helped Union successfully reboot its first-floor Fish Market, serves seasonally inspired dishes that balance creativity and simplicity. A soup of puréed sunchoke garnished with smoked Lake Superior whitefish illustrates the success of this approach—familiar texture, flavor surprise. Yet efforts don’t always land in bounds: Greens carefully paired with pecans and bright dollops of grapefruit curd are overpowered by a pine vinaigrette more perplexing than pleasant.
Almendinger’s bison dishes better typify the restaurant’s sweet spot of accessible-meets-interesting. All day long, the meat is served ground and pattied into a fat, juicy burger, slathered with Thousand Island dressing and slipped between a house-made bun; at brunch, it’s served as steak and eggs, with sweet-potato hash and bearssoise sauce (hollandaise spritzed with lime). As it turns out, morning is the space’s shining hour, with sun streaming in the wall of glass and biscuits and gravy on the table. The only downside of daytime dining? You’re less likely to spot the building’s unofficial mascot—artist Scott Seekins, in one of his all-black or all-white suits—at the bar.
The Third Bird
1612 Harmon PL. Mpls.