2222 Michelson Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612
Food halls are all the rage right now, and Orange County has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to them. I think it started with 4th Street Market in Santa Ana and it kind of exploded from there. Union Market in both Irvine and Mission Viejo, McFadden Public Market in Santa Ana, Pacific City in HB, the always crowded Anaheim Packing House, and now Trade in Irvine are being barraged by hungry patrons.
Food halls seem like the perfect spot for places to try out a new concept. The rents are generally lower, you definitely get a lot of foot traffic, and with the younger demographic that usually inhabits these kinds of places, you get lots of exposure on Instagram and other social media outlets. It also seems like concepts that populate food hall stands are much more adventurous about the products that they are peddling.
My love for Slapfish is pretty well known. I suggest it to anyone that wants to have delicious seafood at a reasonable price. I was excited to learn that Chef Andrew Gruel, the man behind Slapfish was opening two concepts at the newly opened Trade Food Hall. One is the veggie based Butterleaf, which Chef Andrew has described as plant-based food for people who love to eat. With this concept he wants people to know that you can get a hearty meal without meat, leaving them satisfied and full. I'll definitely try it next time I'm here, but on this visit, I was all about Chef Andrew's other stall at Trade, Two Birds.
Two Birds is tucked behind the Central Hub Bar, which is to the right of the main dining area of Trade. Once you find this stall, you will be met by a pretty simple menu. You choose between either crispy or grilled chicken, then you also pick whether you want the poultry in a salad or as a sandwich and if you want a double or single serving. Two Birds uses Jidori chicken, which I had never heard of until coming here. Jidori is a locally raised chicken, which is free range, and fed a vegetarian diet without using antibiotics. This type of chicken is very common in Japan but gaining popularity in the US. We quickly ordered and found ourselves a table nearby to wait patiently for our food to find its way out to us.
Yep, I was in awe as well when this Double Bird In the Hand Sandwich ($13) came out. My first thought was how am I going to put my mouth around this, and to answer that question, I took out one of the pieces of chicken to make it more manageable. This simply dressed sandwich came with some crunchy slaw and tiger sauce, which is kind of a mildly peppery and tangy concoction that goes well here with the perfectly done chicken. The chicken was very clean tasting, not as greasy as I was expecting, and had a nice even crunch around its rather large surface. The bun did a great job staying together with all the heft going on in between its buns. One of the better chicken sandwiches I have had.
I have a real affinity for cottage fries, so when I saw them on the menu at Two Birds, I knew we had to give them a try. These Cheesy Cottage Fries ($5) were loaded with a few cubes of pork, a sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese, and a smooth cheese sauce that kind of reminded me of a bechamel, or at least that's the vibe I got here. The cottage fries did get a little soggy near the end of this, as the sauce kind of settled down near the bottom of the bowl, but that's to be expected. The first half of this was on point. I might get this again but with the cheese sauce on the side next time.
I'm usually not one to order chicken when I'm out to eat, but that sandwich from Two Birds will be hard to resist when I return to the Trade Food Hall. That's saying something with all the other options there. I think it's safe to say that Chef Andrew has another winner on his hands with this concept. I used to think it was crazy to create a chicken-focused concept, but with the success of Raising Cane's and the surprising longevity of KFC and their awful chicken, I can admit when I am wrong. Two Birds might have a very basic menu, but if you are looking for one of the best chicken sandwiches you will encounter, you need to head to Two Birds very soon.
Out of five volcanos, (because there's a 2008 Icelandic short film titled Two Birds, and Iceland has many active volcanos), five being best to zero being worst, Two Birds gets 3.5 volcanos.
For more information about Two Birds, check out their website here: http://www.twobirdsrestaurant.com/