Munch goes to Bluebird Kitchen

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Fortunately for Munch, journalists are natural sharers. We're incapable of finding something amazing and keeping it to ourselves, whether it's a big scoop on a story or a fantastic new lunch spot Downtown.

This was how word of Bluebird Kitchen spread.

Munch had noticed the darling little bluebird perched on a limb on the store's sign, on Forbes Avenue just off of Market Square, before the restaurant opened. Munch would walk past and peer in the windows, looking for clues that this restaurant would be an excellent Downtown lunch joint.

When Bluebird opened last month, the newsroom chatter began immediately.

"Are you going to Bluebird?" someone would yell as Munch walked toward the newsroom's exit. "Bring back a menu, will ya?" Upon Munch's return, carting darling little cardboard boxes full of delicious salads, the question would be, "Oooooh ... what'd you get?"

Munch has now eaten at Bluebird several times, and Munch can confirm that it is worthy of the buzz.

Bluebird Kitchen is, essentially, a really nice, sparsely decorated lunch counter full of salads and cookie sandwiches and cakes. The menu is written on a chalkboard above the counter, and the cool blue hues can calm Munch down on even the most harried deadline day.

Munch dragged Colleagues of Munch to Bluebird on two separate occasions, usually for "a daily assortment of hot and cold grains and vegetables," as it's worded on the menu. Munch has enjoyed an excellent heirloom beet salad, wheat berry salads, green beans and potatoes ($2.50 for a small container, $4 for a large). (As a quick aside, as a child, Munch hated beets because they usually came from a can and were so purple they were almost black. Now, Munch knows the value of a well-prepared beet, and Bluebird's pale purple beets are both delicious and pleasant to look at.)

Last week, Munch took New Colleague of Munch and Dear One of Munch to Bluebird to execute the Official Munch Review.

DOOM arrived at Bluebird, looked around and, without acknowledging NCOM, noticed the lack of tables and said, "Oh, god, are we going to have to eat outside?" (Update: As of June 28, there are stools at the counters along the walls of the restaurant.)

In fairness, temperatures hit nearly 90 that day, and it would've been nice to sit in an air-conditioned room and enjoy our salads. Munch assured DOOM that the food would make sitting outside worth it, and DOOM nodded to NCOM and grumbled toward the counter.

Although Bluebird was offering a beet salad this day, Munch decided to switch it up and get a salad-salad, opting for "May's salad," with arugula, endive, thyme, onions, crisp pork belly, grilled brioche, pear and aged Gouda ($6.50).

DOOM went with the tuna nicoise salad, with poached tuna, dried tomato, haricots verts, hard-boiled egg, olive and avocado, although DOOM asked to hold the olives ($9). NCOM, sticking with the salad theme, went with the house-roasted chicken salad, with bleu cheese, roasted shallots, shaved pear and caramelized walnuts. We all went for salads, but Bluebird also offers soups, sandwiches and, in the morning, breakfast items like frittatas, hash, grits and granola.

NCOM expressed reservations with the pre-packaged salad but said the chicken was moist and the veggies were fresh, although NCOM would've liked more cheese and walnuts. DOOM lamented the lack of marinade on the tuna and said the mustard dressing wasn't mustardy enough. Munch countered that if DOOM would just get over the unreasonable dislike of olives, the salad would be perfect.

We topped off the meal with a variety of stellar house-made desserts, including two cookie sandwiches -- one with sugar cookies and a lemon-raspberry filling, and another peanut-buttery one. Munch thought the lemon-raspberry cookie easily won for best dessert, but DOOM, who also ordered a fruit-and-cake parfait, insisted that the peanut butter cookie sandwich was superior.

We left the deciding vote up to NCOM, who, because DOOM and Munch bickered for most of the lunch, looked scared to take sides.

"I'm a fan of the lemon cookie," NCOM said. "I'm sorry."

"Judas," DOOM replied.

munch

Munch: munch@post-gazette.com or on Twitter @PGMunch. Become a Facebook Friend of Munch at www.facebook.com/munchPG. First Published June 28, 2012 12:00 AM


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