238 Gertrude St
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
03 9416 4747
I’ve been here about two years ago, during my pre-blog ‘era’… with Mr Frenchman, I believe. Loved it. Simple, hearty, satisfying food. A revisit had always been high in my head, but never seemed to eventuate. But that quandary was finally rectified, thanks to Ashley, who took the time to draw up and share a list of Melbourne eats that remained open during Christmas and New Year last year. Birdman was open for business on, believe it or not, Boxing Day!
Damo, Fakegf and I have started running Albert Park lake circuits together. After our yum cha session on Boxing Day, we lazed at home (while fakegf went on a post-X’mas sales rampage), conquered the lake in the late evening, and then headed to Gertrude for a night with the Bird.
Look at the hanging Christmas decor… a little spooky, if I may add. But cute!
Now that it’s warm, I’m really getting into ciders this season. Birdman’s Le Pere Jules ‘Poire’ (Dry Pear Cider) $32 from France was an exceptionally delicious bottle of chilled, thirst-quenching goodness. Do you think the French make the best ciders? I’ve no clue… but I definitely much prefer this beautiful bottle compared with (sweet and fruit-essencey) Rekorderlig that which many people seem to love.
Birdman’s menu has changed since my last visit. I don’t recall it being share-plate back then, but it is now. We selected a few plates to nibble along with our ciders. My appetite is dictated by the weather, if its hot, I don’t eat much at all.
The zucchini & fetta fritters $9.5 came first. The yoghurt dip in the centre was nice, but the fritters itself were too salty for our liking. They were deep fried well though.
Fakegf and I enjoyed the next dish, chargrilled scallopine w broccollini, almonds & green olive taponade $18.50 from the specials board. The pork pieces were pink inside but nice, charred and smoky outside. The accompanying sauce had Asian elements to it, think it’s soy sauce… hard to go wrong with me there. Damo thought the almond chunks would’ve tasted better if they were slivered and roasted, while fakegf liked the (incredibly salty to me) olive taponade.
The fried haloumi w red rice, dried sour cherry & pistachio salad $13 was another pleasant dish that evening. The yummy red rice was zesty and sweet, which gave great counterpoint to the salty punchy haloumi. My companions thought the two components did not go well together, while I thought the combination was actually great!
We had the deconstructed “fish n’ chips” – poached & roasted bacalao, confit potatoes & aioli $17.5 as our final nibble. Now that I know bacalao is essentially salted codfish, I’m more skeptical of any dishes containing that (cos it’s not fresh fish!). Here, the bacalao was roasted till there was a hint of charring, but not much fish featured in the dish, it was mostly (delicious) kipfler potatoes. Just as well, because I thought the potatoes tasted nicer than the fish! Fakegf wondered aloud whether this dish would’ve tasted better if they used fresh fish instead of salt cod. The whole set-up sat in a creamy moreish garlic aioli, and that spread was augmented by chips of raw garlic. We somewhat enjoyed it.
So every dish had some nice elements to it, but they also had a few things that were also not quite there. Service was casual friendly through the meal, and there was a pleasant overall vibe inside the small space.
The desserts on offer did not sound exciting, but still, we shared a curiosity strawberry pannacotta w blueberry sorbet $11… for fun! It was okay. I liked the pannacotta, its texture reminded me of a vanilla tau fu fa (sweet soy bean custard). I was equivocal about all the other components though… chocolate balls, jam compote, and the ‘cap’ of sweet sorbet. Damo thought there was too much going on there, and in this case, I agreed.
I think I prefer Birdman’s menu two years ago when it was more traditional classic and not as share-plate focussed. I have no intentions of returning for dinner, but won’t discount the possibility of brunching here because I hear that they serve the best baked eggs this side of the river!