And even though I have been there maybe 10 times over the past year, and written about both its head chef and the food multiple times over various channels, no, Freebird hasn't been reviewed on this blog before.
It's not easy to put a finger to why I love this place so much.
Have I eaten better food than at Freebird? Yes.
Have I been to a more well-decorated restaurant with better service? This is a close call, but yes.
What's Modern Australian Cuisine anyway? That's quite a blur for me too. But after frequenting Freebird and totally enjoying my meal at Cheek by Jowl in Singapore, I sort of understand it as a produce-oriented cuisine, blending European cooking techniques with Asian flavours (since Australia is such a melting pot in terms of culture as it's a relatively-new immigrant-based country). It's a kind of cooking that allows the chef to totally express himself without having his hands tied behind his back by stiff rules of cuisine authenticity.
So, why Freebird?
Because Freebird is an extravagantly-eclectic space, executed perfectly, has a grassy backyard with rabbits on the roam. It's a restaurant that wouldn't look out of place if you decide to bring your most important corporate guest for an important discussion, nor will you feel embarrassed turning up in shorts and flip flops pushing a stroller (or two) to have a slow, casual meal with the family. I've done both, many times.
And the food, yes, it's borderline fine dining, and you know the kitchen is capable of more. They are just holding back, simplifying the dishes to keep them approachable and comforting.
A couple of days ago, I went in on the first day of their menu overhaul (first in a year since Chef Top took over) and I am pleased to report that the newly-crowned Best Young Chef 2018 seems to have upped his game, challenging bigger ingredients.
|Grilled Ciabatta with House Dips.|
I'm actually kinda glad they chose to keep the start of the meal the same, because a meal at Freebird will feel a little different otherwise.
|Soft Shell Crab with Sweet Pepper Dip and Burnt Lime.|
One of the new dishes, and a show that Top's deep-frying skills has improved tremendously since a year ago. A safe start for the wife who doesn't fancy raw stuff.
|Tea-cured Sea Bream with Mango Salsa, Herb Dressing and Pickled Daikon.|
|Potato Gnocchi with hazelnut oil, lettuce, Parma Ham and aged Parmesan.|
|Pan-seared Scallops, spiced butternut, pomegranate, and guanciale|
|Grilled wild tiger prawns with Masala butter and lemon curd.|
|Oh, such decadence.|
|King crab Ravioli with seafood broth, Chardonnay gel and basil oil.|
|Local Jerusalem Artichoke soup with parsley emulsion, paired with celeriac bread and gorgonzola cheese.|
|Pan-seared Cod, Broccoli two ways, lemon gel, chicken consomme.|
|Pork collar with yellow pepper emulsion and watercress.|
|48hr short rib, miso eggplant, potato mille feuille.|
|The typical pre-dessert, passion fruit, white chocolate and meringue sprinkled with chilli flakes.|
|Chef's rendition of banana cake.|
Chef Top shared with me that he will take over the desserts from now on. It's interesting, because I always had a feeling that desserts were his 'weakness', if he had any. Taking over the desserts at Freebird would give him the perfect platform to experiment and improve. If this banana cake dessert is any indication, he is on the right track.
Freebird is a restaurant that started with a bang but fell with a thud. The head chef who started it all off didn't deliver what's promised. I had numerous foodie friends who went in when Freebird was newly open and told me, "oh it's a nice place but the food was not very good." Even though things have taken a complete turn after Chef Top took over, it's still a long hard road winning back hearts that have already been lost.
I love the current Freebird for what it is.
It is Bangkok's definition of casual fine dining.