Judging from the crowd response during the soft opening of Thunderbird, the new Fountain Square bar is going to be a popular addition to the neighborhood. It opens to the public Feb. 4.
The new bar, located at 1127 Shelby St., filled up quickly during Saturday’s soft-open event, and it was definitely a cocktail crowd. Over the course of two hours, I noticed only two customers with beers. Everyone else was trying co-owner Joshua Gonzales’ cocktails (my favorite so far: the Goddamn Rotterdam, $9, made with Bols Genever, Ransom Old Tom Gin, honey and lemon bitters). Cocktail prices range from $7 to $11.
Food prices are likewise reasonable; main dishes are $10, and sides are $4. But the big flavors on consulting chef Carlos Salazar’s menu make the dishes a bargain. I enjoyed everything I tried — especially the biscuit and gravy, $10, made with duck neck gravy and a housemade biscuit topped with a fried egg. The fried black-eyed peas, $4, disappeared quickly as well, as did the beignets, $4.
The handsome interior, created by Nikki Sutton and Nick Allman with a striking player piano art installation by Kipp Normand, manages to be both rustic and comfortable, with a nod to the building’s past as a rockabilly bar.
Looks like Thunderbird partners Ed Rudisell, Joshua Gonzales and Jonathan Altman along with chef Salazar have hit on their hands.