711 Henry Avenue . Charlottesville, VA. (434) 443-0696
Some restaurateurs aim to fill a void. Others give us something we never knew we needed. An unassuming neighborhood restaurant featuring $35 rotisserie chickens? Birdhouse is the most surprising hit in years.
To be fair, that’s not exactly what Liz Broyles and Tim Popa set out to create when they opened their restaurant in 2021. Their inspiration was much simpler. They found so much enjoyment in the food they cook for each other at home, they thought: “Why not see if others like it, too?”
As for the chickens, they are actually underpriced versus a normal restaurant mark-up. Unlike the mass-produced loss-leaders at supermarkets, Birdhouse’s birds are organic, free-range Cross chickens sourced from nearby Virginia farms. For farmers to make a living, the birds might sell for more than $20 each at a local butcher. At Birdhouse, with the magic the kitchen works – a brine, rotisserie roast, and blast in the oven to crisp the exterior – one chicken and a few delicious sides can make a satisfying meal for four.
On top of the food is warm hospitality, one of the coziest rooms in town, and wines sourced by Broyles, longtime sommelier of C&O. In sum, it’s like one of those little neighborhood restaurants on a side street in a big city, where the comfort of a pleasant night out always awaits. Like a bird’s shelter from a storm. Maybe it does fill a void after all. Either way, it belongs on The Charlottesville 29.
What to Order
It’s never much help when servers say: “everything’s good,” but that really is the case at Birdhouse. Build a meal with whatever strikes your fancy, and you’re almost certain to be pleased. Below are our specific recommendations, as well as mentions in Best Thing I Ate All Year, where a Charlottesville chef as named a Birdhouse dish their favorite of the year.
- Celery and Olive Salad
- Chicken Confit
- Green Pozole w/Chicken
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Garlicky Marcella Beans
- Potato Gratin
Best Thing I Ate All Year Picks
- Celery and Olive Salad – Kate Collier (formerly, Feast!); Andrew Cole (Lampo)
- Chicken Confit – Jason Becton (MarieBette)
- Green Pozole w/ Chicken – Alicia Simmons (Tavola)
- Rotisserie Chicken – Mitchell Beerens (Lampo); Rachel De Jong (Cou Cou Rachou)
- Collard Greens – Rachel De Jong (Cou Cou Rachou)