Serious foodies on the Cape may want to add the word “Sunbirdy” to their vocabulary. J’aime Sparrow uses it often to describe not only the food at Sunbird Kitchen, but also the ambience and the way things are done at this 2 1/2-year-old Orleans spot that began life as a popular food truck in Wellfleet. Sparrow, who owns the congenial restaurant with her graphic designer husband, Christian, introduced dinner last June, an “inevitability” she says, after seeing how well received their breakfast and lunch were and also to remain sustainable. With business partners Garrett Smythe and Karen Densmore overseeing the kitchen and wine (try the Feudi San Gregoria rosé), respectively, the evening meal embraces Sunbird’s foundational ingredient-driven recipes, many based on food the Sparrows became passionate about during 10 years in San Francisco. Humbly named Chips & Dip, charred eggplant spread with pickled currants brings the starter to a whole new level; Salt Cod Fritters, so creamy inside and crispy outside, conjure a savory version of fried ice cream; and Smythe’s spin on Beet Salad includes his own scratch-made horseradish ricotta and Wellfleet-grown pickled rhubarb. Adding kimchi makes a lunchtime Grilled Cheese “Sunbirdy,” while the same house-made Korean condiment spices up a Ramen Bowl on the dinner menu. Mushroom Pho is a meatless dinner standout with shiitakes cultivated on Martha’s Vineyard and seaweed from Maine. The entire menu highlights what’s fresh daily at nearby Chatham Bars Inn Farm along with pickled and fermented items from Sunbird’s own pantry. “Every piece of everything gets used,” says J’aime, “which forces you to be creative but is also practical.” And above all, delicious!
—Janice Randall Rohlf
Sunbird Kitchen, 85 Route 6A, Orleans, 508-237-0354, birdinthesun.com. Off-season dinner hours: Thursday-Saturday, 5:30-9:30 p.m.