We reveal the heart behind The Bird Southern Table & Bar with an interview with Founder, John Kunkel, who tells us more about his new restaurant serving chicken and waffles, pancakes, bourbon and more
When it comes to food havens, Marina Bay Sands pretty much takes the icing on the cake. Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, David Myers’ Adrift, Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin – thankfully for our adventurous appetites, this list does seem to go on and on. But just when we thought that the culinary choices at MBS couldn’t get any more diverse, down swoops a high-flying franchise all the way from Miami, specialising in the hearty, homely Southern cuisine of the U.S.
Now soaring amongst the elite establishments of MBS is The Bird Southern Table & Bar, helmed by Founder, John Kunkel. Embarking on its first rodeo outside of The States (its flagship is in Miami, and has a sister outlet in Las Vegas’ Venetian | Palazzo), The Bird Southern Table & Bar sees the passing down of Kunkel’s grandmother’s Southern recipes – tried-and-tested renditions of chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, buttermilk biscuits and other kitchen comforts. We get a taste of the love with a chat with Kunkel himself, who reveals more about the bites (and booze) to expect, and the appeal of Southern cuisine.
Hey there, John! Why open all the way in Singapore, considering it’s its first branch outside of the U.S.?
We have a great relationship with our Marina Bay Sands partners, and in my 20s, I was able to spend a lot of time in Southeast Asia. So when this opportunity presented itself, we were very excited to accept.
What are some must-try eats on the menu that you’d personally recommend?
Without question, I’d say the Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles, our Shrimp ‘N’ Grits, the Fried Green Tomato BLT, and Mama’s Crispy Chicken Biscuit. They are classics for a reason, and our signature dishes too. We have taken tried-and-true Southern recipes and we have added the expertise of our amazing culinary team to create a chef-forward menu full of delicious fare.
What, in your opinion, makes a perfect fried chicken and waffles?
I think our version is the perfect pairing! Juicy, crunchy fried chicken and our amazing savoury cheddar cheese waffle, complemented with our spiced watermelon, bourbon maple syrup and honey hot sauce. You just have to get a bite with everything in it – trust me, it will be the perfect fried chicken and waffles.
We noticed that The Bird Southern Table & Bar will also offer ’77 Elvis Pancakes that cater to the brunch crowd, which is swell considering how huge the brunch scene is in Singapore!
Yes, brunch is one of our most popular meal periods and Southern food is the most popular brunch food. Updated cocktail classics like Bloody Marys and our Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade are a great start, and our brunch menu combines sweet and savoury with dishes like the ’77 Elvis Pancakes, Maple Bacon Donuts, Eggs ‘N’ Ham, and the Yardbird Benedict.
Will The Bird Southern Table & Bar be a go-to hangout for bourbon and whisky connoisseurs?
Absolutely. We are right now in design and trying to dedicate a portion of the restaurant to whisky and bon aficionados. Currently, our Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade is one of our most popular drinks and customers love it – it’s tart, and a little sweet with blackberry puree, fresh lemon, cardamom, and Angostura bitters. Our Watermelon Sling is also a hit – it’s a refreshing combination of whisky, fresh watermelon juice and lemon, balanced with Aperol.
Do you think Southern cuisine has more heart than any other cuisine from the U.S.?
I don’t know if it has more heart, but it definitely has more salt! Southern food is all about passion, and there are a lot of different ways to make Southern classics, but it’s really all about sharing great food with family and friends.
Is that the biggest takeaway you’d like Singaporean diners to have from dining at The Bird Southern Table & Bar?
Yes, we want our diners to feel like family. We communicate through food that’s cooked with love and passion, and we want them to feel that.
The Bird Southern Table & Bar also has a sister restaurant called Swine Southern Table & Bar in Florida, that focuses on nose-to-tail dining. Are there plans on expanding that brand?
I’d say swine is more like a tough younger brother! It’s a very successful concept, and we would love to bring it to Singapore, but no plans as of yet.
And let’s end with a fun one: if you could transform into any bird of your choice, what would it be and why?
That’s a tough question! If I had to pick, I would go with a condor; they live a long time, they are very unique, and they have a huge wingspan.
The Bird Southern Table & Bar, #01-82 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956.
Craving more comfort food? Check out these best places for fried chicken and waffles in Singapore.