Get some South in your mouth: Nothing quite spells out “good times” quite like fried chicken and grits, and we recently got our fix of Southern comfort food with the collaborative pop-up menu between Isono and Birds & Bubbles. Hailing from the Big Apple, Birds & Bubbles is all about down-to-earth Southern staples but with a swish of sophistication. The patina of refinement can be found in the execution and presentation of each dish, and the Champagne and wine pairings. 

After a brief chat with New York Chef Sarah Simmons of Birds & Bubbles, we sat down to sample a trio of starters ranging from deviled egg, to chicken liver mousse on pumpernickel, to pimiento cheese on black pepper crackers. A popular dish on any Southern dinner table, we loved the smokey spiciness of the cheese against the housemade black pepper crackers. The deviled egg was devilishly creamy and the briny irony taste of the chicken liver worked well with a smidge of jam. To wash it all down, we sipped bubbly glasses of Mailly Grand Cru

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Charred corn and buttermilk ricotta dumplings with boiled peanuts and summer greens were sweet and buttery, and uplifted with fluffy ricotta. 

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It isn’t a Southern meal without shrimp and grits, and Birds & Bubbles version with toothsome Anson Mills stone ground grits, tasso ham and mushrooms was some of the best we’ve had. We adored the contrast between creamy and al dente kernels, and the succulent barbecued shrimp was cooked to a perfect bounce. 

This all went down with refreshing Castellroig Brut Nature Gran Reserva sparkling wine. 

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It’s called Birds & Bubbles for a reason! The buttermilk fried chicken came alongside the whole shabam of crispy potatoes, long bean casserole with shiitake mushroom, buttermilk biscuits and jalapeno cornbread. However, if you are expecting a juicy, gluttonous finger-lickin’ good time, then be forewarned. The chicken, although succulent, is a French free-range variety with firmer, more sinewy flesh. This translates to less gluttonous juicy bites, and a more elegant, clean taste. It’s not bad, just different, so manage your expectations! 

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Dessert came in the form of a deconstructed benne seed tartlet dotted with custard and burnt caramel. We were not crazy about the hipster deconstruction but the flaky buttery pie crust was delicious. We just wished it was presented as an actual tart or pie. The petit fours were infused with plenty of Down South flavours, ranging from bourbon marshmallow, chocolate and peanut butter buckeye, linzer cookie to mint julep pate de fruit. Our favourite was the buckeye. 
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Verdict: A fun experience of mixing comfort food with a swish of sophistication. Chef Sarah Simmons is passionate about her craft, and even brought over suitcases of ingredients to give diners an authentic taste of what the menu at Birds & Bubbles in New York is like. 

The six-course dinner menu is priced at $498, with an additional $435 for the wine pairing. There’s also a special joint collaboration with Twins Kitchen for a Cross Culture Fried Chicken night on August 1st at $598 per person. 

Birds & Bubbles will remain at Isono until August 13th, so check them out before they fly the coop! 

Isono, 6/F, Block B, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2156 0688 

Editor-at-Large, Jetsetter Food Nomad

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