At Modern Bird, fine dining is reimagined one dollop of ranch butter at a time. Pro tip: Order the cheese bread at this new restaurant in Traverse City.

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our digital issue library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Wine & Dine at Modern Bird

Family With a Love for Food Makes the Move to Traverse City 

Modern Bird is the culmination of a decade-long dream shared by Chef-Owners Andy Elliott and Emily Stewart. The couple cut their chops in Chicago, working together at Michelin-starred Boka before Andy went on to GT Fish & Oyster and Ria; Emily to Blackbird and Bang Bang Pie. But they always knew when the time came to open their own place, it would be in Traverse CityThe couple, with five-week-old son Daniel in tow, spread their wings at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in 2019, earning a loyal following for Em’s pastries—malted sticky buns, golden scones, flaky pop-tarts.

Photo by Dave Weidner

A Community Favorite With An Irresistible Menu

Today, her pies are a staple on Modern Bird’s dessert menu (that decadent key lime will be back in the summer, promise). “Our highest aspiration is to be a really good neighborhood restaurant,” Andy says. On the seasonal supper menu this translates to elevated but approachable dishes: Earl Grey–brined fried chicken, venison loins atop pureed potatoes and plump loaves of cheese bread with a pillowy tear-apart center. And then there’s the freshly whipped ranch butter. “It’s our little ode to the Midwest,” Emily laughs. And it does us proud.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

History Behind The Magic 

Housed in an 1890s building that was once a pharmacy, the restaurant’s towering street-side windows flood the space in natural light, revealing the original brick wall and tin ceiling. The open kitchen and four counter seats alongside it are a favorite, treating guests to views of their meals being made. Also special, toy dinosaurs roaming windowsills and a blue car filling a small hole in the wall—son Daniel is an influential part of day-to-day operations.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

What’s Cooking?

Gifts, Holiday Dinners, and More! 

Gift cards are available and make fabulous holiday gifts; winter wine dinners, a gorgeous upstairs event space, brunch and lunch coming soon.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo by Dave Weidner

Give the Gift of Traverse Magazine this Year

Northern Michigan is the greatest gift! Share it with the ones you love this holiday season. 🎄❄️✨ From feature stories on seasonal adventures to can’t-miss locally-inspired recipes, give the gift of Northern Michigan for under $30 with a 12-month Traverse Magazine gift subscription:

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner