When it comes to cuisines, many people love the classic and delicious take around French cuisine. And in the Triangle, while there are certainly multiple choices for French food, there aren’t a ton of options. So the recent opening of Bluebird out in Chapel Hill caught my eye. Brought to you by Chef Brandon Sharp from Hawthorne & Wood (seasonal West coast), Bluebird was built out in the old space that used to house Cafe Carolina. And while it’s sad to lose the Cafe, the addition of Bluebird is a huge plus for the area. Read on and find out exactly why!
Bluebird is located in Meadowmont Village near the traffic circle and you’ve multiple food options nearby (Brixx, Lime and Lemon Indian, Kahlovera Tacos). I recognized the low, brick building with a circular face, there is no parking directly in front of Bluebird but you have some tight, little parking areas to either side. Walking up to Bluebird, you’ll immediately notice the covered patio area that curls around the restaurant. About eight tables or so for fresh air dining, nice! Step inside and you’ll be met by a long, curtain (portiere) separating the entry area from the dining room. Seems to be a common design detail for French restaurants since Coquette out in Raleigh sports one, too! The decor at Bluebird is European in details, but stylish and modern overall. Small white tile floors, Parisian-style chairs, fabric-covered overhead lighting, and white glass globes fill out the space. A U-shaped bar to the right and the open kitchen straight ahead complete the dining room scene.
Reservations are available online which I would recommend for most busy periods. Otherwise, take your chances or grab a bar seat if you’re dining solo or as a pair. The crowd here at Bluebird leans towards the older side: mostly 40-plus with some younger people and families. But given the price points, I’m not surprised.
For starters, the classic French onion soup is excellent! Topped with two pieces of baguette and melty cheese on top, the deep and rich beef broth is full of sweet oniony goodness. It’s a clean rendition of French onion soup and not particularly heavy. Another great option is the chilled blue crab (Crabe Froide) served with a spicy remoulade, jalapeno, and chives. It’s an unusual but tasty presentation of subtle crab meat in a colorful and flavorful style with some heat.
Moving on to les plats principaux (entrees) I tried out the Entrecote de Pork (Duroc pork chop). It’s a stunner and mighty meaty dish featuring a thick, seared chop from a heritage breed that’s lean and perfectly cooked. Topped with mushrooms, sauce, and Parisienne gnocchi, this dish is bursting with savory flavor. The seared gnocchi is a nice bonus and probably not needed for the plate but appreciated.
And finally, dessert. Bluebird provides a small section (three options) and I was able to try the Financier (brown butter almond cake) with stewed plums which was basic but quite nice. Like their sister restaurant, Hawthorne & Wood, Bluebird keeps it low-key for the sweets side of things but I feel that it’s an area where Bluebird could up its foodie game to finish their meals with more of a flourish.
Now while Bluebird can be awful busy during the week for dinner service, you might want to try out their brunch option on Sundays from 10am to 2pm. Offering up a small menu of brunch favorites (kouign amann, eggs, omeletes, etc) in addition to its regular menu, I was able to try their croque madame which was excellent! Served on some perfectly toasted brioche bread layered with ham, and cheese and topped with a perfectly cooked egg, the whole sandwich worked great with the sauce mornay drizzled over everything.
Overall I’m quite happy with what Bluebird is doing. It feels like a natural fit for Chef Brandon and the professionally run kitchen is knocking out some excellent food. From ambiance to service and prices, I feel like they are hitting a natural sweet spot for the area that’s probably been neglected in the past for Chapel Hill. While I did have to Google some words and ingredients to understand the menu, it’s a worthwhile price to pay for the great dining experiences I’ve had so far at Bluebird, bon appetit!