The guys behind New York’s new food phenom — Charlie Bird — have taken the city by storm. From owners chef Ryan Hardy and sommelier Robert Bohr, Charlie Bird is a nod to all things New York — and, have we mentioned how awesome the food is? We chatted with these guys on everything culinary, not to mention tricks of the trade, the best menu items, and a quick chicken recipe that you should make tonight.
Chef Ryan Hardy
The New Potato: From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Ryan Hardy: "Great espresso and a cornetti in the morning, a giant plate of langoustine crudo and amazing prosciutto for lunch at a sunny spot, followed by a bowl of spaghetti alle vongole for dinner. And maybe a late night pizza!"
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What are your three favorite menu items at Charlie Bird?
"Live scallop crudo and oysters, veal pastrami at lunch, and chicken at dinner. Delish."
What’s your go-to recipe for eating in? Can you take us through it?
"I move fast all the time and need to stay light on my feet, so I love grains and vegetables. I make a lot of plates of vegetables — and I almost always have cooked beans on hand because they are so versatile. I cook stuff like roasted radicchio with walnuts, pumpkin agrodolce, and a quick borlotti soup with escarole."
If you could advise on the perfect smoothie combination, what would be the ingredients?
"I don’t make smoothies, but I love green juice! I don’t drink it for anything other than the refreshment of enjoying it. I love anything with chlorophyll."
Your perfect way to make roast chicken?
"Once again — I move fast, and who has time for a chicken to roast? So, I devised this method to always get the skin crispy, the meat moist, and accomplish it in the least amount of time. De-bone the chicken, and cook it spatchcock style, skin down in a pan. Spoon butter and herbs over top until the skin is super crispy, the butter is brown and the bird is cooked — about 20 minutes. Serve with great wine and three great friends."
"Porcini omelette at 3 a.m., preferably after a night of fun."
The perfect afternoon snack?
"Espresso and toast with sheep’s milk ricotta and honey. It’s all about sourcing the best ingredients."
What are your favorite cities for food? Where do you go in each?
"Tough one. New York City — I love Kajitsu, Franny’s, and Marea — how’s that for a mix? And Rome. I love Roscioli."
In the same vein as "what is the new black" in fashion, what is "the new potato" (the new thing) in food?
"For me? I’m all about fresh, light, seafood-based food. I think there is a huge movement away from modernist meals and towards using modern techniques to make classic approaches tastier and more consistent. That said, vegetables are the new black in my book — and I’m the furthest thing from a vegetarian. They are super versatile, add texture, and help push flavor. Fortunately, farmers have caught on too and are providing us with better than ever varieties of good green stuff."
If you could choose three iconic dishes you’d advise people to serve at their dream dinner party, what would they be? Why?
"Well, it’s their dream, so I don’t exactly know, but I would say go all in. Buy the best ingredients you can afford, and go seasonal. It’s so cliché, but buying whatever is in the markets will yield the best results. All that out of the way, the top three that I cook are, homemade pizza, which takes skill and a hopefully a great outdoor wood-oven — preferably in Puglia! Secondly, roasted suckling pig — nothing impresses more than whole-roasted meat. Third — gelato and pignoli. My wife and I travel the world in search of the best gelato — you never go wrong with a stroll after a great meal and a gelato."
The New Potato: Describe your ideal food day.
Robert Bohr: For breakfast, my wife’s amazing French toast, crispy bacon, and a green juice from Juice Press with a latte from La Colombe across the street from our apartment. Lunch is my usual order at ABC Kitchen of tuna sashimi with ginger, a kale salad, and black bass. Dinner is pizza at Lucali with a group of friends where we all bring our favorite wines.
What’s your favorite wine?
"It’d be impossible to give just one wine but as a general category, Burgundy. Specifically Chablis and Meursault for white and Chambolle-Musigny and Volnay for red."
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What’s different about the Charlie Bird wine menu?
"Our goal isn’t to be different. Simply put, Grant Reynolds (sommelier at Charlie Bird) and I are trying to focus on the wines we like to drink that work with our food and price them fairly."
What would your last meal be? What wine would you pair with it?
"Ideally at Maison Troisgros in Roanne [France] and I’d let the chef, Michel, cook and the sommelier, Jean-Jacques, choose the wine and just enjoy the moment."
How do you start your day?
"When not too hungover, I try to go to the gym or do some form of exercise. In a perfect world, (it happens far too infrequently) a run with my wife Jordan."
What are you favorite cities for food and drink? Where do you go to in each?
"It’d be difficult not to say that New York City is my favorite city for food. I am biased but I think it’s the best restaurant city in the world. However, since that’s a bit obvious, I’ll add Paris and Tokyo to places I’ve been recently and have had great dining experiences. In Paris, I love L’Astrance, Passage 53, and Granace, and in Tokyo, Sushi Ichi and Restaurant DEN were our two best dining experiences."
"Not that far. Almost everything we want comes to NYC. Admittedly we are quite spoiled that way."
Where do you go for inspiration?
"I get a lot of inspiration at home from my wife. Jordan is hard-working, curious, and determined to be better at whatever she is focused on at that moment. It’s humbling to watch. Second, Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colorado. I don’t know anyone working a dining room floor who inspires me more than Bobby Stuckey."
Any easy tip for those new to wine?
"Balance is the most important attribute a wine can possess. Don’t be distracted by the obvious."
In the same vein as “what is the new black” in fashion, what is "the new potato" (the new thing) in wine?
"Few things that are trendy genuinely matter in the long run and this certainly applies to wine."
What five people would be at your ideal dinner party? What wine would you serve?
"Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Tupac Shakur, Andy Warhol, and Tim Russert. Since this is fictional event, then maybe a real bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti."