Hoboken’s Best New Restaurant Delivers a Remarkable Experience, and Then Some

by Peter Candia
BYRD Hoboken

When restaurant duo Ehren and Nadine Ryan announced earlier this year that they would be bringing their second NJ restaurant to Hoboken, it took the Jersey food scene by storm. After months of waiting, BYRD is finally here—and I was lucky to experience the restaurant first-hand. 

When you walk into BYRD—set at the bottom of a towering Hoboken apartment building—you are immediately met with a space that is almost the antithesis of the husband-and-wife duo’s first restaurant Common Lot. To avoid going on an inspired tangent about Common Lot, a restaurant I consider among the top 5 in NJ, you can read my review of the space here

The exterior of Hoboken’s best new restaurant | BYRD

The interior of BYRD is sleek—with an exclamation point. Smooth, white marble tables scattered across an expansive dining room, exposed ceilings and a lounge area front and center with couches and comfortable seating to boot. The floors of BYRD are concrete—a stark contrast to the elevated design present in the rest of the space, including the tables, their settings and the light wood accents seen on the chairs, at the bar and throughout the structure of the wall-length wine rack. A lively patterned wallpaper paints the rear of the room, while the front is defined by floor-to-ceiling windows. 

This is all to say that BYRD is thoughtfully designed. Its simple approach to something like the floors and ceilings (read: leaving them alone) works to uplift the subtle details that many patrons would traditionally overlook. No matter where you’re seated, your view is complete with plenty of eye candy to keep your mind occupied between courses. 

In addition to Chef Ehren and hospitality wiz Nadine, BYRD brings on a team of talented individuals who have helped define what the restaurant means to Hoboken—and New Jersey—without delay.

Mezcal Negroni | BYRD

In the front of the restaurant, Managers Vanessa DaSilva and Christopher Breakfield. Breakfield manages the floor, while DaSilva oversees the operation and doubles as Sommelier. Her extensive knowledge of wine brings BYRD a varied list that spans the globe. DaSilva’s efforts to bring patrons quality wines that they may have never heard of before does not go unnoticed—there is a wine for everyone and I encourage diners to try something new, or even a grape they wouldn’t typically order. 

In the back of the restaurant—the kitchen—Chef Ehren has brought on Chef de Cuisine Jon J Hung, who goes way back with the group, working for Common Lot in 2016. He bounced around kitchens on both sides of the US before reuniting with Chef Ehren for the opening of BYRD.

This talented team is the backbone of BYRD, propelling it to a must-try destination right out of the gate. The concept is straightforward: global flavors, casual setting. “This is my idea of a casual restaurant,” Ehren tells me during my first visit. “I have a choice of fries or salad on the menu. That’s casual!” When a fine dining chef transitions into casual dining, it usually creates something that I immediately become attached to—BYRD is no different. 

Because when a chef with nearly a dozen Michelin Stars under his belt starts cooking burgers, fries, grilled fish, pork schnitzel and—gasp—a kids menu, well that’s a win for dining overall.

hoboken restaurants

Salmon Sashimi with ponzu, puffed rice and cilantro | BYRD

A meal at BYRD can take many forms. A true restaurant that is what you make of it. You might choose to start with some raw courses; how does salmon sashimi and tuna tartare sound to you?

Slices of glistening salmon come dressed with vibrant ponzu and thin coins of crunchy cucumber. Crisp puffed rice and fragrant cilantro garnish the plate. It’s a simple approach to raw fish, and despite the light makeup, it doesn’t leave you missing a thing. The tuna tartare is bigly flavored in contrast. A punchy chili and soy vinaigrette of sorts dresses the small dices of raw tuna, which comes studded with smoked trout roe and a dusting of furikake seasoning. On the side: airy shrimp crackers for textural contrast. Scoop with a cracker, bite, repeat. Perfection. 

Tuna Tartare | BYRD

You’d be remiss to skip something as impressive as the BBQ mushroom skewers. BYRD takes a mix of mushrooms from The Foraged Feast—a NJ-based purveyor of wild, local mushrooms—skewers, glazes and grills them over charcoal. Half the time when someone refers to something as an “umami bomb,” they have no clue what they’re talking about, but these mushrooms really were just that: an umami bomb. 

The greatest form of flattery when uplifting an excellent ingredient is to leave it mostly alone, and that’s exactly what Chef Ryan and Chef Hung do. They lightly brush the mushrooms with a soy caramel sauce that sticks to them as they grill, enhancing their natural flavor. The clean aroma from the high-heat grilling works as a catalyst, bringing out even more of the meaty, savory umami present in mushrooms. It’s an addictive bite, and would be a perfect companion for a cold beer or the rum-based Air Mail, even if you’re just peeking into the bar at BYRD for a drink and a snack. 

Grilled ‘shroom skewers | BYRD

How about some pasta? A welcome addition to the BYRD menu. I went with rigatoni sauced in a beautiful broccoli and pine nut pesto. It tasted like a dish I would make for myself when I have a ton of broccoli on hand and half a box of rigatoni laying around, which is to say, it tastes like home (to me). That is a feeling that is often hard to capture in restaurant cooking. 

Another pasta choice includes cavatelli with mushroom bolognese. It’s a great option if you’re in search of something that’s both vegetarian and hearty. Add a dusting of nutty Parmigiano Reggiano and you’ve got a meatless ragu that doesn’t suck. 

For the mains, BYRD offers a variety of well-thought-out proteins and vegetables. I was particularly drawn to the grill section, where diners can enjoy dry-aged striploins, roasted cauliflower and, my pick, a beautifully charred and de-boned branzino—with your choice of salad or fries (casual). 

Charred and blistered branzino | BYRD

Grilled fish is just the best when done right and BYRD certainly doesn’t miss the mark. The skin blisters and bubbles with pockets of deep charring, while the flesh remains moist and just done through. An herbaceous salsa verde of sorts dresses the plate and I obviously opted for the hand-cut crispy fries because I enjoy the finer things in life. A crisp glass of cold, off-dry riesling from Mosel—bursting with fresh pear and citrus flavors—was the ideal companion for such a dish.

If you want the fries taken up a notch, go for Chef Ryan’s favorite snack—crispy fries drenched in a caramel-soy sauce he calls yum yum sauce, available as a side. They’re sweet, salty, savory and unbelievably good. Remember what I said before about the mushroom skewers being a great drinking snack? Yeah, these work great too. 

byrd hoboken

Fries with yum yum sauce | BYRD

Aside from the grill options, the staff raves of the confit duck with beans and fried curry leaf, or the classic double cheeseburger, but I decided to go for the crumbed pork cutlet—AKA the pork schnitzel. Thin-pounded pork, breaded in fresh breadcrumbs, fried to a golden crisp while retaining its moisture and dressed with zig zags of Sriracha aioli and black garlic sauce. What’s there not to like? Add in a zesty Southeast Asian slaw and a nice cheek of lemon and you’ve got yourself a perfect patio meal. 

Crispy pork schnitzel | BYRD

For dessert, chocolate mousse is a must. Not a suggestion. A must. When it hits the table it might seem basic, but the first bite will prove you utterly wrong. Warm madeleine cookies come on the side of the creamy mousse, which contains a mixture of milk and dark chocolates and is made traditionally with cream and yolks—no gelatin—to maintain a perfect, velvety texture. You could dip the sweet madeleines in the mousse, or you could eat it straight with a spoon. I don’t judge. In fact, I encourage it. 

BYRD proved something I already knew to be true. Nadine and Ehren Ryan know how to run a restaurant. Whether it’s the perfectly tailored style of price-fixe and high-end dining at their flagship Common Lot, or the laid-back and casual a-la-carte experience presented by the all-new BYRD, the couple always puts experience first. It starts with hospitality, and everything else flows behind it. Without that as a base, you’re missing half of the operation. 

A classic Air Mail taken to the next level with elderflower | BYRD

BYRD is a welcome addition to the Hoboken dining scene—which has operated at a virtual stalemate for years while the neighboring Jersey City’s has taken off into the stratosphere. If it isn’t already on your radar, what are you waiting for? It certainly gets my stamp of approval. 

About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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