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The New Menu

This trio of local spots got cooking during the pandemic—and you’ll be so glad they did.

Article by Allyson Reedy

Photography by Photography provided by Birdhouse

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Birdhouse

Ariana Tiegland, along with her husband Chris, and co-owner Scott Skiba, wanted to create an exciting, top-quality restaurant, the kind they saw mostly in Boulder and Denver. They wanted to bring that sort of dining experience and fun menu to Erie, and so they did, in the form of Birdhouse. The less-than-a-year-old restaurant takes two of the couple’s favorite foods—tacos and ramen—and spins awesome versions of both, creating a menu chock-full of things guaranteed to make you happy.

“Dreaming up the concept, we imagined some of our favorite modern comfort foods, tacos and ramen, and being able to enjoy them in the same space. My husband always wants to get ramen when we eat out, and I always want tacos,” Ariana says.

The problem is deciding between the chili sauce-laced tonkotsu ramen and spicy lemongrass pork taco on house-made tortillas, or the unique French onion ramen with sake caramelized onions and short rib marmalade and the Nashville hot chicken taco. Or give in and grab both tacos and ramen and congratulate yourself on making good life decisions.

The details: 526 Briggs St., Erie; 303-997-9630; eatatbirdhouse.com

Casian Seafood

It’s a family affair at Lafayette’s Casian Seafood. Dau Vit Xiong (nickname Dovi), his wife Maria, and their two children work the unique restaurant, which combines the Hmong food of southeast Asia that Dovi and his family have always eaten with Cajun ingredients. “I am Hmong myself, and this is the type of food I grew up eating,” Dovi says. “We alter the ingredients a little and infuse a lot of it with Cajun ingredients. For example, the pork belly sandwich is a Vietnamese sandwich, but the way we cook the pork belly is how we cook it in a Hmong kitchen.”

Besides that pork belly banh mi, the crawfish boil is a must-try. Not your typical southern boil, Casian Seafood sautées theirs in a large wok and adds lemongrass, ginger, soy and oyster sauces to the garlic butter coating. Or eat like you would at the family’s house and order the Cornish game hen, a deep-fried half bird, lightly salted and peppered and served with rice and vegetables. “This is a very simple dish, but growing up it was a staple in our household. It will always be eaten with a cilantro, onion, and pepper dipping sauce. It’s simple, yet completely satisfying.”

The details: 211 North Public Rd., Lafayette; 720-216-5704; casianseafood.com

Black Knife Bakery

Like many great stories, this one starts in Las Vegas. Deviny Herrera was on a trip to Sin City when she first tried the macarons at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. It was love at first bite, and when she returned home to her Westminster kitchen, she started baking them. And baking them. And baking them. Deviny spent the majority of her waking hours for months perfecting her macaron recipe, and once she did, she realized she had something very special.

While she’d been baking prior to the pandemic, it was during lockdown that Black Knife Bakery really took off. She began doing cooler pick-ups out of her apartment, and customers couldn’t grab her picturesque macarons in flavors like brown butter biscoff cookie butter, maple apple butter chai, and dark chocolate raspberry molten fast enough. Want a taste for yourself? The best way to try the goods is to reserve one of Black Knife’s variety boxes, where you’ll get a pair each of six different specialty flavors. Much easier than putting in 16-hour days perfecting a recipe of your own. 

The details: Visit blackknifebakery.com to place orders for delivery or pick-up.

Looking for takeout? Here’s a cheat sheet of what to order from each spot.

Birdhouse: Tonkotsu ramen, half chicken karaage, and a spicy lemongrass pork taco.

Casian Seafood: Pork belly banh mi and the one-pound crawfish boil with andouille sausage.

Black Knife Bakery: The macaron variety box, or maybe multiple macaron variety boxes. No judgment.

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