Brooklyn is perfectly well known for its great, growing Chinatowns, boasting restaurants largely influenced by Fuzhou communities in Sunset Park, and Cantonese enclaves in Bensonhurst. Still, true Sichuan eateries (not to be confused with your corner Szechuan Delight), have remained considerably harder to come by; the scattered handful of examples are rarely found north of the borough.
So credit Birds of a Feather—from the team behind Manhattan’s Michelin-starred Café China—for its decision to fly solo, coming to rest amongst the boutiques and bars of Grand Street. Further asserting its independence, it does little to ostensibly declare itself as a quote-unquote Chinese restaurant: abjuring markers like benevolent Buddhas, lotus lanterns, and any and all shades of red, for expanses of blond wood, vintage bookshelves, and chrome “eyeball” spotlights suspended over communal tables.
As far as the 50-item menu goes, it neither apes the offerings at its sister establishment, nor does it hew too closely to the expected Sichuan canon. Instead, it zig-zags between gently interpreted classics (sumptuous crocks of pork and greens stew conceal downy puddings of tofu), and cheffy flights of fancy; whole eggplant is presented hasselback-style, sliced into fleshy, fried accordions; and “pork in garlic dressing” amounts to rolls of razor-thin belly, coiled around cylinders of poached okra.
Needless to say, the primary theme is peppercorns (juicing everything from dan dan noodles to poached wontons and braised, bone-in fish) which tickle the tongue with explosive starbursts of fire and fruit, before ebbing into an agreeable, smoldering hum.
Their purposely staid interiors may fade into the Williamsburg woodwork, but Birds of a Feather’s electric Sichuan cuisine is bound to linger with you long after you leave.
191 Grand St, (718) 969-6800, Williamsburg
Photos by Matt Bruck