Underground dining at The Birds Nest

3bnThe magic begins as you enter the old South Granville apartment building. The lobby is wide, high, and gracious; dark wood and mirrors welcome you into a hundred years ago with the genuine smell of antique carpets and old ductwork. The elevator is a joy of rugged, creaky efficiency.

The experience of knocking on a door to be let into a restaurant is novel in itself and sets the scene for something special, and when Chef M pops out of the kitchen to welcome you in it is a pleasant surprise to enter the charming private apartment that is The Birds Nest.

Chef M has got taste, not only in her cooking, which is a blend of richly layered artistry and homey comfort, but in the styling of her home into a warm, amusing space filled with her well chosen mix of antique to eclectic pieces both functional and fanciful.

2bnThe apartment itself is enviable: the women unanimously decide they want to live in one exactly like it while the men quietly destroy their beautifully arranged meals which are prepared by Chef M alone in her tiny kitchen and carried out to her customers personally.

Diners are left to themselves at three tables ranging from romantic and private to communal. The service is pleasantly minimal, that being performed M herself. Drinks are self-served coffee and tea and whatever one brings; one couple brought a bottle of wine, which was coveted.

The food was simply a pleasure to eat; M’s “fall inspired” brunch plate included a thick, chunky potato pancake topped with big sautéed mushrooms, a soft poached egg and a swirl of bright green pesto. Mellow beets on a bed of spinach kept the meal honest and the marmalade on homemade bread made me want to go home and make marmalade.

1bnDiners instinctively saved the pumpkin and apple parfait for last, and were not let down by its very spicy sweetness and little indulgent whipped cream dollop.

Chef M is an accomplished hostess, welcoming and generous, and her space is beautiful. The twenty dollar suggested donation for this very casual and unique fine dining experience is more than worth it.

The Birds Nest serves brunch, dinners and high teas—check the website for dates and reservations—and also gives cooking classes and caters private meals.

As seating is minimal, flakiness is discouraged.

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