Vast walls of living greenery hang over diners at Bird & Wolf—the new North Andover steakhouse. Packed with hundreds of plants that draw water and nutrients from an intricate system hidden from view, they freshen the air while contributing a peaceful aura to the futuristic white-on-white space, punctuated by soft gray banquettes and warm wood finishes.
The design, the brainchild of owner/operating partner Xochitl Bielma-Bolton, was conceived prior to the pandemic, but seems very much of the moment, with high ceilings, well-spaced tables and the six living walls.
The space invites guests to unwind while contemplating the creative menu from Executive Chef Chris White, a native of Ireland whose impressive resume includes kitchens in Australia and New Zealand, and a Michelin-starred restaurant in the U.K.
At press time, starters were heavy on fish offerings, with a scallop crudo, octopus, and a delicate salmon dish cured with red beets. To prepare the salmon, White coats a whole side of salmon in a mixture of salt, sugar, beets, and citrus. After curing, the fish is sliced thinly and served with cubes of an intense espresso and merlot jelly, baby beets, and tiny pumpernickel croutons. It’s a delicious mix of flavors and textures.
Some of the greens for salads, as well as herbs and flowers for cocktails and desserts, are grown right in the restaurant, in futuristic lighted towers. Encased in glass, the towers dominate the center of the space like a work of art—though they do not overshadow the brightly colored paintings on the walls by Boston artist Timmy Sneaks.
Mains include fish, pasta, and steak, changing with the seasons. The bouillabaisse is a perfect choice for late summer/early fall—a delicate array of scallops, shrimp, black bass, clams, and mussels, topped with a deeply flavorful fresh seafood bisque poured tableside. White prepares all of the fish and seafood elements in house, using leftover fish bones and shells to make that broth. Brightened with an emulsion of lemon juice and olive oil, the dish is refined and light.
For a heartier appetite, look to the American Wagyu “Steak Frites,” which plays with convention by offering parsnips instead of potatoes for the “frites.” Served two ways—as fries and as a purée—the parsnips play nicely with the side of Café de Paris butter, a complex mixture of herbs and mustard that you should also spread on your steak. A selection of pickled and cured vegetable sides, like a carrot chutney and cremini mushrooms, can round out your meal.
As with much of the menu, the delicately sized portions emphasize quality and intensity of flavor over quantity. Which is a good thing, because you’ll be glad you have room for dessert. Much-lauded executive pastry chef Giselle Miller has a resume that includes Cambridge’s Café ArtScience and Menton in Boston, where she was named a 2019 semifinalist for James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year.
Viewing dessert through a lens of science and molecular gastronomy, she makes her desserts dance with unexpected flavors and textures. Take, for example, the coconut panna cotta, a pillowy vegan delight topped with house-made cucumber gin sorbet, flower petals, and torn fresh herbs, every bite a new surprise. Other offerings on a recent night included the brown butter parfait, a sort of vibrant strawberry shortcake, and the super deep, super smoky “Campfire”—a square of pure smoked dark chocolate studded with cherries and graham crackers.
Miller’s artistry is also on display in the adjacent café space, which is open for breakfast and lunch, then turns into a wine bar in the evenings.
During the day, her ephemeral croissants are usually on offer, along with a mix of desserts and pastries. In the evening, you can order a charcuterie board and a glass of wine, enjoying the café’s four-season heated patio, which is also alive with plants. And just breathe.
1268 Osgood St., North Andover, 978-208-1877, birdnwolf.com