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My favorite lunch item from the newest location of Birdbath in Tribeca? Well, it's just a kale salad ($5.50), but sometimes the simple things are the best, and this is a prime example. Toasted hazelnuts tossed among thinly sliced, fresh kale leaves, dark and leafy, tangled with grated cheddar. Three ingredients that marry remarkable well, all bound by a gloss of vinaigrette with the slight hint of lemon and garlic. All at once light and hearty, and something I would be glad to incorporate into a daily meal.
The kale salad, plus a Snack Pizza ($3.50), a petite four-bite affair built on a puff pastry base with tomato sauce, fresh ricotta, basil, drizzles of olive oil and black pepper, is enough for a lunch, but big appetites might want to head for...
...Fried chicken. This location offers a selection of pre-packaged meals, portioned to serve anywhere from one to four people with prices varying accordingly. The meals change daily, but some form of chicken has appeared on every visit I've made. On one occasion, there were individual servings of fried chicken drumsticks and potato salad, and another day revealed roasted chicken with Brussels sprouts. My most recent visit brought about a half-dozen chicken wing and drumettes, a thick, peppery crust, tucked in a leafy green salad, with tomato salsa and a tangy buttermilk dressing on the side. Two mini-wedges of cornbread, golden-topped with an even, coarse crumb though on the sweet side, completed the $10 meal.
The main disappointment I had with the prepared foods is that they're all stored in refrigerated shelves. This makes sense for the dairy products they carry, but for a dish like fried chicken with cornbread refrigerated makes no sense, especially because the dishes are freshly assembled and packed. Ideally we'd be able to purchase it warm; even room temperature would be fine. No one wants soggy fried chicken.
But whatever qualms I may have, no visit to Birdbath is complete without a cup of the non-alcoholic fruit sangria ($3.50) made with hibiscus juice and apples, and a sweet little nibble for the afternoon. The Tribeca location offers all the usual cookies alongside those wonderful Black Bottom Cakes, muffins, and scones.
Exclusive to this location is the carrot cake ($4), baked in the shape of a giant cork and finished with a dollop of airy whipped cream cheese frosting. I'm a sucker for all types of carrot cakes, and this one differs itself from the bunch with the inclusion of pine nuts in place of your usual walnuts. Carrots are coarsely grated and abundant, keeping the lightly spiced cake plenty moist.