Last week I attended a preview of Early Bird’s new dinner menu which is launching tomorrow night starting at 5.30pm. Chef Frank DeLoach has created small and large plates which rotates seasonally depending on what’s available on the market. Small plates are priced between $7-$10, while large plates will run around $11-$15. The Dungeness crab is market price and requires a one-day advance request at time of reservation.
We started with some salads. Early Season Greens is a palate bursting canvas of white lemon, strawberry, pecans, mint, edible flowers, radish and basil. The dressing is all lemon and you can taste the freshness in each mouthful. Love the textural contrast of all the ingredients too!
Summer Squash was a combination of shaved squash and chunks of green and yellow baby squashes tossed with za’atar and sumac and dotted with slices of preserved lemon and pickled shallots. Crunchy, fresh, tart, just a wonderful vibrant pop in your mouth every time.
I didn’t think I’d like Pork Belly Po’ Boy but the flavors were incredible! Smoked sriracha and B&B pickles gave the sliders a spicy, tart, rich deliciousness so comforting yet so complex in flavor.
One of my favorites of the evening was Salt Cod. I am a sucker for salt and combine that with crispy rice and Thai chiles and all the flavors I love? Well, need I say more? One more please!
Sweetbreads was my least favorite of the night, but strangely, my son loved it. I can never tell if he’d like it or not. I was even afraid to tell him what it was thinking he wouldn’t try it, and when I told him they were brains, he replied “oh, they were good”. That kid always surprises me! Maybe it was the finely diced crunch of the celery, or the hot sauce and ranch that he loved. Regardless, my kid ate “brains” and liked it!! Who woulda thunk?
I saw Poutine go to other tables around me and was afraid we wouldn’t get to try it, but we did. Tender beef cheeks over crispy fries topped with Oregon cheddar and a runny egg, who could ask for more? It was a comfort food lover’s wet dream! This was another winner!
I love fried chicken and if the salt cod wasn’t enough to tempt me, the Twice Fried Chicken cinched the deal. The coating was crispy and had flavors which brought me to my childhood even though when I questioned Chef Frank on the ingredients, there were none which brought my palate to its ratatouille moment. Hmmm, maybe he was lying? Regardless, this is a must order on a return visit.
When Singaporean Chili Crab arrived, I knew it was all over. Early Bird has got me hook line and sinker. I grew up in southeast Asia and chili crab is something I am extremely familiar with. Although this isn’t exactly what you will find in Singapore, Chef Frank’s version is pretty damn good.
The sweet spicy flavors (oooooooooo I’m salivating just writing this up) were too much for the wusses at my table and I ended up devouring almost the entire portion on my own. Oh well, too bad for them because it was incredible. All I wanted was some piping hot steamed rice to eat the remaining sauce with.
We ended with Street Melon, a perfect finish to a 99% perfect meal. The watermelon sprinkled with Mexican chile and lemon spices topped with lime ice and beer emulsion cleansed the palate and didn’t overwhelm our very full stomachs.
Early Bird’s dinner menu is a winner in my book. Simple dishes bursting with flavor, but most of all, familiar flavors which bring me back to a time lost to adulthood. Maybe they won’t be ratatouille moments for you, but it doesn’t matter because good tasting food is good tasting food no matter how you look at it.
1000 #B East Bastanchurry Road
Fullerton, CA 92835