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  • Blackbird

    Post #1 - February 18th, 2005, 8:38 pm
    Post #1 - February 18th, 2005, 8:38 pm Post #1 - February 18th, 2005, 8:38 pm
    Okay, I have searched, and searched, just like Aaron taught me, and I do not believe there has ever been a specific topic on this forum, or even a detailed review embedded in another topic, on Blackbird. As I am (finally) dining there for the first time tomorrow night (Saturday night of course, like any good suburbanite touristo), I was going to see what wisdom I could glean, and found bupkus.

    Please prove me wrong, else I will be forced to write the first review late at night while in my cups, and this would pull down the generally stellar quality of commentary on LTH immeasurably.

    Any suggestions, or can't miss items?
    Last edited by dicksond on February 21st, 2005, 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #2 - February 18th, 2005, 8:53 pm
    Post #2 - February 18th, 2005, 8:53 pm Post #2 - February 18th, 2005, 8:53 pm
    Hi,

    I found some Blackbird references, where it appears sweetbreads and pork bellies may be of interest. I hope what little I found is of use:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=19566#19566

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=18713#18713

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=14394#14394

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=14401#14401

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=9963#9963

    I guess you have the burden of writing the first full blown write-up of Blackbird. If you would be so kind.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - February 18th, 2005, 10:47 pm
    Post #3 - February 18th, 2005, 10:47 pm Post #3 - February 18th, 2005, 10:47 pm
    Yup, that is what I found, too. Rather surprising given the generally high esteem it is accorded.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #4 - February 18th, 2005, 11:06 pm
    Post #4 - February 18th, 2005, 11:06 pm Post #4 - February 18th, 2005, 11:06 pm
    I had a spectacularly good dinner there about a year ago with my friend Wyatt, thanks to the good offices of his roommate Ivar the World's Greatest Waiter, but since it was in my interregnum between the last post on Chowhound and the launch of this vale of woe, I not only didn't write about it, I allowed myself to just eat without paying that much attention, so I don't even remember it that well. It was sure good though.

    Hope that helps!

    I have no idea if Ivar TWGW is working tomorrow night, and Wyatt is out of town so I can't ask him, but look for a waiter that looks like Kurtwood Smith and say you're a friend of mine and you are certain to reap incalculable benefits.
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  • Post #5 - February 19th, 2005, 12:00 am
    Post #5 - February 19th, 2005, 12:00 am Post #5 - February 19th, 2005, 12:00 am
    Paul Kahan's kitchen consistently turns out stellar dishes.

    One that really stands out is the suckling pig. The west coast mussel soup, which has been on the menu since its inception, is solid. Their preparation of fish is spot on.

    One can easily make a very enjoyable meal by selecting a few smaller plates/appretizers and foregoing main courses.

    Surprisingly (to me at least), the corkage fee is only $15.

    Some people find Blackbird too noisy and lacking in space between tables--to each their own.

    In short, Chicago needs a few more places like Blackbird; places where the food is excellent night in and night out and the prices are not stratospheric.
  • Post #6 - February 19th, 2005, 8:24 am
    Post #6 - February 19th, 2005, 8:24 am Post #6 - February 19th, 2005, 8:24 am
    Dickson,

    Funny, I was just saying last night, while eating at Ed's house of Potsticker, how much Ellen and I enjoy Blackbird.

    A few can't miss dishes are endive salad with crisp potato, pancetta and poached egg; confit of suckling pig appetizer; Sturgeon and anything with, as Cathy mentioned, pork belly.

    I'd also suggest saving room and energy for a glass of wine and cheese flight at The Tasting Room a few blocks West.

    I know you'll enjoy yourself, Blackbird is your kind of place. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    The Tasting Room
    1415 W Randolph St
    Chicago, IL 60607
    312-942-1313

    Blackbird
    619 W Randolph St
    Chicago, IL 60661
    312-715-0708
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - February 19th, 2005, 11:03 am
    Post #7 - February 19th, 2005, 11:03 am Post #7 - February 19th, 2005, 11:03 am
    firenzeps wrote:Some people find Blackbird too noisy and lacking in space between tables--to each their own.


    Such folks should get a 5pm reservation. I've done so and had a much different (and, for my preferences, better) experience than when the place was hopping.

    It's been long enough since I've been there that I'm blanking on particular dishes, but everything I've had there has been stellar.
  • Post #8 - February 21st, 2005, 5:31 pm
    Post #8 - February 21st, 2005, 5:31 pm Post #8 - February 21st, 2005, 5:31 pm
    Well, it was a pretty darned good meal by my lights.

    The meal started with an amuse bouche that was a little clam fritter with sunchoke in a buttery, savory foam ("espuma" at Blackbird) with little bits of apple for contrast. The overall effect was most like an artichoke fritter with a sweet clam embedded in it, sauced with some airy hollandaise. The apple flavor was mostly lost to my palate, but the crunchiness and slight touch of sweetness was enjoyable.

    We brought along a bottle of wine (for which we were charged $25 corkage - though the server offered that somewhat tentatively, as if he expected to be challenged) - an enjoyable 1995 Castelgiocondo Brunello - still drinking quite well. I asked the server to order for me, and after considering the bottle, he said he thought he could do something. Good fellow.

    My first course was a ragout of rabbit, with a light, creamy, curry sauce. Atop the mound of rabbit, fresh oyster mushrooms and some vegetable I cannot identify (possibly little bits of endive, though the texture was not quite what I would expect), was a piece of grilled, and probably lightly smoked rabbit loin. It added some interest to the texture, and also a slight smoky flavor. Not great or memorable but quite good, and matched well with the wine.

    The Bride and Son accompanied me as this was a belated Birthday dinner for herself. They had, respectively, a potage st. germain (my son ordered this while pointing out he was doing it just to annoy me - as I had made a large batch of split pea soup that morning, which he declined to eat, but I digress), and a beet salad. The salad was frissee-like with a tangy vinaigrette, and some good, earthy chunks of beet. Also a small cracker and daub of some cheese, which I did not sample. Well executed.

    The Son dispatched the soup quickly, stating it was about the cream, and other flavorings he mixed in. He did complain that the smoked pork belly tended to overwhelm the other flavors.

    For my main course, I was given that evening's pork belly preparation. A crispy, chewy, long and lovingly cooked slab of bliss, with three cute, little rutabaga chunks, and a swoosh of a sweet reduction. Sweet, savory and crispy combined on the palate. Matched perfectly with the wine, and it was an exquisite bit of pork belly.

    The bride had a bit of salmon served cassoulet-style: on a mound of beans, with some bits of smoked pork belly. I was not allowed to sample, but she did manage to finish it without me.

    The son ordered the Guinea Hen farci, on a bed of cavola di nero (???) a crunchy and only very slightly bitter green. It was served surrounded with some finely chopped vegetables in a complex, acidic sauce with meyer lemon, among other things. I was allowed to sample that, and found the hen cooked perfectly, and the vegetables and sauce a good counterpoint to the sweet flavor of the hen.

    I lobbied mildly for some cheese to enjoy as we finished the wine, but was not successful.

    For dessert we enjoyed a chocolate mousse cake with sabayon and prunes, and a beignet with creme fraiche ice cream, cherries and fried sage. The prunes turned the son off, sadly, and the bride inhaled the beginet before I could get more than a taste. Both were excellent.

    We neglected to ask for Ivar, but were served quite well, and able to experience the progress from a room 3/4 empty at 5:30, to quite full at 7:30.

    My verdict is simple - an excellent and interesting meal, graciously served, and worth the price. For some, including my Son and Bride the reliance on pork belly in almost every dish went a bit far. In fact, the Son stated that the food "had one too many flavors in every dish, which seemed to overwhelm the others." The bride deemed the whole place a bit fussy, and silly, and sees no need to return. She did enjoy her food, however.

    While I do not agree with their opinions, I pass them along as they were reacting to things that were really there. The food clearly strived for a complexity and contrast in flavor, and at times in concept (such as the salmon-based cassoulet improvisation, which sounds like a great idea to me), as opposed to a more familiar and harmonious deliciousness. It did not come together for the Son.

    It also set me to thinking how places and meals such as at Trio, or Moto, both influence the food at Blackbird, and also how we perceive that food. It is a very adventurous time for chefs and fine dining. They can try anything, and are expected to challenge and amuse us, while providing delicious food. Blackbird was not serving anything really out there, and the cuisine struck me as more ingredient-driven, than concept-driven, but there were those touches. Do I now need such touches to deem a fine meal worthwhile? Perhaps I have become a culinary thrill-seeker???

    As for the Bride's comment, the entire atmosphere of the place smacks more than a little of an uber-hipster 1960's or 1990's aesthetic, which she found off-putting. Such is the danger of places that are very hip - they quickly become out-of-date and eventually silly. Still, while I think the room and atmosphere of Blackbird have that issue, it strikes me more as a sort of entertainment than anything else. Somehow, it makes me want to dress as a beatnik the next time I go.

    In any case, it is about what is on the plate, and Blackbird delivered a delectable and stimulating meal. If I had to categorize the food, it most put me in mind of a modern riff on Alsatian cuisine, at least on that night.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #9 - February 21st, 2005, 5:50 pm
    Post #9 - February 21st, 2005, 5:50 pm Post #9 - February 21st, 2005, 5:50 pm
    dicksond wrote:The son ordered the Guinea Hen farci, on a bed of cavola di nero (???) a crunchy and only very slightly bitter green.


    Just "cavalo nero": aka black kale, tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, and lacinato kale. Many names, but all point to something delicious. Pairs really well with beans and - though I'm a non-eater of hooved-beasts, it is commonly agreed - pork. Paul Kahan would, apparently, insist upon the belly of the beast.

    rien
  • Post #10 - February 21st, 2005, 9:09 pm
    Post #10 - February 21st, 2005, 9:09 pm Post #10 - February 21st, 2005, 9:09 pm
    When I went to Charlie Trotter's a few years ago, I was blown away by the flavors, but also left slightly disappointed. When I reflected on why, I realized it had something to do with with my two visits to Blackbird before Trotters.

    I realized that Paul Kahan was cooking at the level of Trotter, Tramonto, et al with none of the fuss, pomp, or circumstance. Instead of being forced to a 400-600 dollar dinner experience for two, dictated by the whims of the chef, I could spend 100-150 dollars, choose from a variety of options, and not feel as if I was being manipulated.

    Now, don't get me wrong, 10-15 years ago Trotter was the game. His influence undoubtedly had a profound effect on the quality, fusions, and idea of new american cuisine that Kahan et al are practicing today...yet he is no longer the only game in town. The next generation of chefs have discovered quality, creativity, and service. They do it at an accessible level.

    On the other hand, my best meal was a visit to the French laundry in October, but then again Keller is having more fun that Trotter...definitely willing to laugh at himself ala Homaro Cantu.
  • Post #11 - March 29th, 2005, 10:14 pm
    Post #11 - March 29th, 2005, 10:14 pm Post #11 - March 29th, 2005, 10:14 pm
    Had a quick unexpected lunch yesterday at Blackbird. Quality as usual was top notch.

    I just wanted to highlight two things.

    Henry Mandois Blanc de Blanc- very fruity well balanced crisp bubbly.

    The lunch appetizer scallops were outstanding...basically seared scallops topped with a salad of olives, fennel, carmelized leeks, capers, marcona almonds, and accompanied by a soft boiled quail egg and some kind of mayo type emulsion and chili oil. There was so much going on in this dish. I mean it just felt like this thing would come crashing down like a high school jam band, on second thought I am not even sure why I ordered it. I think I saw "seared scallops" and that was enough, but in the end it was truly the unexpected symphony.
  • Post #12 - June 6th, 2005, 2:24 pm
    Post #12 - June 6th, 2005, 2:24 pm Post #12 - June 6th, 2005, 2:24 pm
    Hi,

    I went to lunch at Blackbird today with three associates. As ever, it did not disappoint.

    My meal consisted of the seared scallops followed by the pork belly sandwich.

    The seared scallops (two) were plump, with a lovely carmelized sear that looked to be almost a quarter-inch thick. They had their own subtle flavor, which married well with the fresh garbanzo beans, sorrel and guanciale. A lovely way to start the meal. (Note that they have changed the accompaniments since MJN's February report on lunch.)

    Having heard more about Kahan's pork belly than any other pork belly in the world, I chose the pork belly sandwich. Truly sublime. I am not ordinarily a fan of either pickles or dijon mustard (only to be used sparingly), but this sandwich, with bread and butter pickles coated in a dijon sauce, defeated my provincial dislikes. In the face of the robust and tender pork belly, the pickles and mustard registered, buit not strongly enough to offend. The chef is clearly more aware of the pork belly's accompaniment needs than my tender (but broad) palate could express.

    The only possible complaints were that the service was a bit disoriented at the beginning of the meal. We arrived at noon to an empty restaurant, and within ten minutes, the restaurant was practically full. Even when seating everyone at once, a restaurant ought to have sufficient menus to provide one for each diner. We didn't mind sharing, of course, but it took some time to even get two menus among four of us.

    Oh, and I poached the poached egg from the endive salad of one of my associates, and it was poached to perfection. The slight hint of vinegar betraying what permits the egg to poach and cling together so beautifully.

    With two courses each, and no alcoholic drinks, the bill came to about $30 per person including tip. It's on the high side for lunch, but the food is well worth the price.

    Keep eating,
    J. Ro
  • Post #13 - June 7th, 2005, 3:43 pm
    Post #13 - June 7th, 2005, 3:43 pm Post #13 - June 7th, 2005, 3:43 pm
    I finally got to try Blackbird late last year, and unfortunately unlike all these posts I was slightly disappointed. Not that it was bad by any means, but I was not "transformed" and nothing was overly memorable. I think I even had some version of the pork belly (which was slightly dried out for me, if that is possible). Perhaps I had such high expectations, but compared to the many high end restaurants I had eaten in NYC (where I moved from 2 years ago), and definately compared to Charlie Trotters (around 4 years ago), Blackbird was just a "very good meal". Then again, I would eat there again in a second - if someone else paid for it.
  • Post #14 - June 7th, 2005, 4:13 pm
    Post #14 - June 7th, 2005, 4:13 pm Post #14 - June 7th, 2005, 4:13 pm
    borborigmy wrote:I finally got to try Blackbird late last year, and unfortunately unlike all these posts I was slightly disappointed. Not that it was bad by any means, but I was not "transformed" and nothing was overly memorable. I think I even had some version of the pork belly (which was slightly dried out for me, if that is possible). Perhaps I had such high expectations, but...Blackbird was just a "very good meal". Then again, I would eat there again in a second - if someone else paid for it.


    You know, I don't recall if I ever posted on my meal there or not, but this pretty much sums up my feelings about the place as well, though my lone meal was more than a year ago. I know old meals don't hold a whole lot of weight in a forum such as this, but I wanted to support this soft dissent.

    I admit to being somewhat embarrassed, almost, to disliking Blackbird. I so wanted to like it; I love Avec; I so feel like I should like it, for lots of reasons, enough so I've nearly convinced myself I did like it. And I did like it well enough. But I can't rave about it. And I really want to.
  • Post #15 - June 7th, 2005, 8:03 pm
    Post #15 - June 7th, 2005, 8:03 pm Post #15 - June 7th, 2005, 8:03 pm
    I actually just made it over to Blackbird for dinner for a friend's birthday a few weeks ago. This review is actually cut & pasted from another non-food oriented board, with some minor edits.



    Yep, we did Blackbird on Friday. I can't believe it took me this long to get over there and check it out.

    It was Laura's birfday celebration, and we'd been talking about going to the place for over a year now. After many drinks at a lounge on Wednesday we finally settled it and made up our minds to go there the following Friday. We somehow scored 9:30 reservations on less than 24 hour's notice and the room was getting pleasantly empty by the time we were finishing up the cheese course.

    I've heard the complaints about the closeness of tables before, but I can't say that it really bothered me. We spend a lot of time in nightclubs and lounges that allow much less space - you sorta just learn to tune the people around you out.

    One amusing anecdote - a group of 6 came in after 10:30 or so and sat next to us. They were well dressed but obviously already well "socially lubricated" - my guess was that they'd been at an earlier Cubs game and stopped at home to shower and change, but didn't get much of a chance to sober up. The diner immediately next to me ended up with his face in his hands, apparently asleep, shortly after the amuse bouche was brought out. When a waiter asked if he was ok his friend answered "Oh - don't worry about him. He's just been praying for a very long time." His wife was very embarrassed, they closed their portion of the check seperately and left immediately.

    We had -

    Over dinner we had a '02 Tablas Creek Estate Paso Robles Rose. I'd like to say I picked it, but it was actually a compromise based on my desire for a red paired with her want for a white - I'd order it again.

    for starters -

    pan fried ipswitch clams and spanish white anchovies with house cured salmon, hearts of romaine, cucumber, and aioli

    seared maine diver scallops with melted spring onions, fresh garbanzos, guanciale, and sorrel


    The clams were really the standout. They were served on a paper thin slice of cured salmon with the "salad" over them, with a very light citrusy dressing. (I've been considering going back to get those and a bowl of soup for lunch today, actually.) They had only the slightest breading on them, but it gave a really pleasing crunch - it was great stuff.

    The scallops were very good as well, I didn't even notice any grit in them. The veggie portion of that dish was really the standout though.

    and then for entrees -

    wood grilled organic prairie hanger 'steak and eggs' with ramps, asparagus, crispy potato cake, and olive aioli


    and

    glazed prairie grove farm pork belly with brussel sprouts, rutabaga, guanciale, four-spice, and sun-dried cherries


    I'd been told a few times by different people that I -had- to get the pork belly when I went there, and I'm so glad that I did. It was seared to perfection, suprisingly non-greasy, and just juicy and succulent. I want to learn how to cook it at home. Every bite was incredibly indulgent, and left me wondering why that isn't served more often. Laura doesn't even like pork, and I got her to try it - it was that good.

    Her steak was incredible, albeit slightly oversalted. I think they used a coarse salt to infuse the meat with a marinade or rub, and it was just a little overdone - but it certainly didn't make it unpalatable. They cooked it perfectly, and the salad looked incredible. I think the eggs were quail eggs, they were very small.

    I almost never do dessert but we were killing time before going to a club at midnight, so we tried out the selection of five cheeses. They were -

    sainte-maure - goat's milk, touraine, france - with caperberries

    capriole old kentucky tomme - goat's milk, indiana - with medjool dates

    brin d' amore - sheep's milk, corsica, france - with marinated forest mushrooms

    comte - raw cow's milk, france - with white asparagus with hazelnut oil

    roquefort carles - raw sheep's milk, larzac, france - with dried cherries


    Who thinks of combinations like white asparagus, hazelnut oil, and comte? Whomever they are, they're a genius - every selection paired perfectly together and made for a very unique taste/texture experience. I'm really glad we tried that out.

    So uh... yeah - you could say I'm a fan of the place. I keep meaning to make it back for lunch.
    -Pete
  • Post #16 - June 9th, 2005, 10:05 am
    Post #16 - June 9th, 2005, 10:05 am Post #16 - June 9th, 2005, 10:05 am
    LA's mysterious Perceptor, who consistently posts some of the best food photos out there and keeps the verbiage to a minimum, has recently put up a nice album on Avec. Looks like he liked it, and one can certainly see why.

    Some restaurateurs slack off. Not these guys.
  • Post #17 - June 9th, 2005, 1:46 pm
    Post #17 - June 9th, 2005, 1:46 pm Post #17 - June 9th, 2005, 1:46 pm
    Do you have a link to the Perceptor post?
  • Post #18 - June 9th, 2005, 3:19 pm
    Post #18 - June 9th, 2005, 3:19 pm Post #18 - June 9th, 2005, 3:19 pm
    Perceptor on Hot Chocolate

    Perceptor on Avec

    In both of these, click on "Create an Account Later", or something similar.

    -ed
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #19 - August 25th, 2005, 8:00 am
    Post #19 - August 25th, 2005, 8:00 am Post #19 - August 25th, 2005, 8:00 am
    We celebrated my husband's last day working downtown before being banished back to the Northwest Side with lunch at Blackbird.

    The room is simply, but elegantly appointed and the bar had the largest arrangement of daisies outside of the Rose Bowl. (Bigger than a disco ball)

    Apparently the new thing is co-branding - a little different than advertising Coco-Cola on the menu -
    Clothing: Joseph Abboud Service: Villeroy & Boch

    But really we were here for the food!

    We decided to share the Maine diver scallops appetizer - which the kitchen split for us - a scallop a piece served with local apples, celeriac, summer truffles, and honey butter . - These were plated on top of sauteed apple cubes with a light celeriac slaw and just a sliver of truffle on top (the truffle really got lost) This was a Very large scallop, 2 - 3 ozs in size, perfectly seared. It paired very well with the glass of Sancerre.

    My husband had the Pork Belly Sandwich - I had told him this is what the chef is know for - and it did not disappoint.

    braised prairie grove pork belly sandwich with spicy coleslaw, bread and butter pickles, dijon, and arugula salad - This was spicy, crisp, tangy and rich all at once.

    I ordered the Hangar Steak with pickled onions and Frites - rare. This was the most perfectly cooked steak I have had in a long time.Not remotely over cooked. It was presented carved with onions spirnkled on top and a huge pile of frites on top of those. The frites were crisp, cooked in peanut oil, and sprinkled with salt and chopped parsley. The steak was served with an espresso cup of perfectly prepared bernaise sauce with fresh tarragon. The sauce was as good with the steak as it was for dipping the frites. Smooth, creamy, but not too heavy.
  • Post #20 - November 9th, 2006, 8:58 am
    Post #20 - November 9th, 2006, 8:58 am Post #20 - November 9th, 2006, 8:58 am
    I was wondering if anyone has been to Blackbird recently, and if so, what you thought of the service. I was planning on going with a friend for dinner, but I saw some posts on Chowhound that, even with a reservation, people have had to wait 45 minutes or more for their table. Is that just a fluke, or something that happens pretty regularly? My friend's here for a conference, and doesn't have much time to spare.

    Thanks!
    --gtgirl
  • Post #21 - November 9th, 2006, 9:04 am
    Post #21 - November 9th, 2006, 9:04 am Post #21 - November 9th, 2006, 9:04 am
    gtgirl wrote:I was wondering if anyone has been to Blackbird recently, and if so, what you thought of the service. I was planning on going with a friend for dinner, but I saw some posts on Chowhound that, even with a reservation, people have had to wait 45 minutes or more for their table. Is that just a fluke, or something that happens pretty regularly? My friend's here for a conference, and doesn't have much time to spare.


    I have been to Blackbird quite a few times with nothing less than stellar service.

    (Correct me if I'm wrong, but there was just a single incident that I read that indicated someone had a problem getting to their table--and that was someone who was requesting a specific table. You indicated "some posts" and "people" when I think it was just one post.)

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #22 - November 9th, 2006, 9:21 am
    Post #22 - November 9th, 2006, 9:21 am Post #22 - November 9th, 2006, 9:21 am
    eatchicago wrote:I have been to Blackbird quite a few times with nothing less than stellar service.


    Service 6 weeks ago was perfect, and, impressively, we felt no pressure to order wine (which happens far too often at other restaurants).

    We also had no wait for our 7:30 table on a saturday night.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #23 - November 9th, 2006, 9:48 am
    Post #23 - November 9th, 2006, 9:48 am Post #23 - November 9th, 2006, 9:48 am
    eatchicago wrote:
    gtgirl wrote:I was wondering if anyone has been to Blackbird recently, and if so, what you thought of the service. I was planning on going with a friend for dinner, but I saw some posts on Chowhound that, even with a reservation, people have had to wait 45 minutes or more for their table. Is that just a fluke, or something that happens pretty regularly? My friend's here for a conference, and doesn't have much time to spare.


    I have been to Blackbird quite a few times with nothing less than stellar service.

    (Correct me if I'm wrong, but there was just a single incident that I read that indicated someone had a problem getting to their table--and that was someone who was requesting a specific table. You indicated "some posts" and "people" when I think it was just one post.)

    Best,
    Michael


    If you look at all the comments, there were a couple of other people who complained about waiting for a table (the one from the poster who was about to have cancer surgery was a rather sad one). But as always, there were a couple of people who said the same thing as you.

    Glad to hear from you that there isn't a problem with wait times. I'm looking forward to trying Blackbird!

    -gtgirl
  • Post #24 - November 10th, 2006, 12:07 pm
    Post #24 - November 10th, 2006, 12:07 pm Post #24 - November 10th, 2006, 12:07 pm
    gtgirl wrote:I was wondering if anyone has been to Blackbird recently, and if so, what you thought of the service.

    Blackbird's Service: A small example of what I feel symbolizes the amazing service and quality of Blackbird.

    My wife and I went to dinner @ Blackbird for an anniversary. Before we ordered we started on a bottle of Chianti. Doing what we always do at restaurants we began to analyze and admire the furniture, bar, open kitchen, lighting, other people's food... etc (I'm sure most of you here at LTH do the same). And as I was about to point up to a lighting fixture I just grazed the side of my wine glass, knocking a few drops of wine on our very clean and very white tablecloth.

    Not wanting to draw attention to it and not let the world know that my wife married an oaf, (which she did) I folded my hands and placed them on top of the drops I had made. Within less than a minute one of the busboys came over, politely refilled both our glasses, looked at me and said "may I señor?" and motioned to the wine drops on the table. For a second I thought he was going to pull out one of those portable Tide thingamajigs and start singing "Nana na na..", but he didn't. Instead, in about 5 seconds, he pulled a crisp-clean napkin that was on his arm, rearranged all the items on our table and flattened the napkin over the mess I made.

    In doing this he blended the napkin perfectly into our nice white tablecloth and did it so quickly that no one had a chance to ridicule my clumsiness... He then gave us a smile and went back to clearing tables.

    Did he do this because his manager told him to? Or perhaps he didn't want anyone dinning in the restaurant to see it and somehow become uncomfortable...? I don't think so. I think he was genuinely concerned that I was a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable with what I had done. And I probably was just a bit... and he could see that. I could tell that he genuinely wanted nothing more than for me to fully enjoy my evening without letting something as small as that ruin it.

    And again, I don't think he was feeling nice that night. I really believe this is a common culture that the Blackbird's staff has...

    gtgirl wrote:I saw some posts on Chowhound that, even with a reservation, people have had to wait 45 minutes or more for their table. Is that just a fluke, or something that happens pretty regularly? My friend's here for a conference, and doesn't have much time to spare.

    We were seated immediately. I did make our reservation a month in advance, and mentioned that it was a special occasion (our anniversary.) Also, perhaps a group of 2 is more easily seated? On the other hand, Blackbird is a place to linger, and maybe not the best choice on a tight schedule.


    ~GS
    Greasy Spoon
  • Post #25 - May 21st, 2007, 10:40 pm
    Post #25 - May 21st, 2007, 10:40 pm Post #25 - May 21st, 2007, 10:40 pm
    Hi, I'm Bryan. I'm a pretty heavy poster over on eGullet but have been informed by various people that LTH is the place to be for Chicago food talk. I hope I'll be able to get some good recommendations for you all and maybe even contribute some insights of mine own as I become more familiar with the city over the next couple months.

    Tonight was my first night of my summer in Chicago. My first significant meal was at Blackbird. I managed to secure a seat at the bar (but not at a table) calling only a couple hours before. Blackbird does not have a tasting menu, so I kind of created one of my own. I ordered four appetizers and a dessert and was quite satisfied.

    As another poster noted, everything at Blackbird was very solid, quite tasty, and subtly creative. Like good contemporary American cuisine, just one level higher. I don't usually dine alone at the bar, I prefer tables, but I must say I enjoyed my experience given the energy of this restaurant. It is undeniably busy and quite loud. A true hive of activity in a rather small, minimalistic space.

    I had:
    -Amuse of trout belly and a really interesting barbeque consomme. I loved this.
    -Crispy confit of swan creek farm suckling pig with cavollo nero, shaved chiogga beets, horseradish and banylus vinegar 13.
    -Crispy veal sweetbreads with nichols farm baby leeks, fresh green almonds, puffed wild rice and remoulade 13.
    -Braised octopus with fresh hummus, charred ramps, sesame brittle and chickpeas 14.
    -Soft shell crab (not on the online menu) for $15.
    -Milk chocolate cremeux with coconut-curry ice cream, cashews and lime 10.

    My favorite dish was definitely the sweetbreads, totally delicious with the puffed wild rice adding great texture. I thought the octopus was a bit weak because the terrine portion (literally a slice of compressed octopus meat that looked cool in a vaguely gruesome sense--I mean this as a compliment) lacked seasoning. It was interesting texturally but needed some salt or acid to perk up the flavor. The confit tentacles were much better. The pork dish was very nice, if perhaps slightly thrown out of balance by the banylus vinegar. I liked it, but it was probably too assertive objectively speaking.

    I also really enjoyed talking to one of my bartender/waiters, whose name I believe was Brandon. Cool dude and full of information for a newcomer to the Chicago food scene like me. If only I could remember all the places he told me about; I'll try to get to them all eventually. Also sat next to a nice couple restaurateurs from Ohio in town for the NRA show. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.

    Blackbird isn't the type of restaurant I usually go to, it's a bit loud and hectic for my tastes. Given that, I was quite pleased with this first meal. I spent a bit more than I would've liked ($103 after tax, tip, and a meh glass of Sanceree), but I'd go back to try more of the menu. I'm also interested in Avec, as its crowds were literally spilling out onto the sidewalk with everyone drinking and eating.
  • Post #26 - July 27th, 2007, 9:11 am
    Post #26 - July 27th, 2007, 9:11 am Post #26 - July 27th, 2007, 9:11 am
    LTH,

    After any number of meals over the years I continue to be favorably impressed with Blackbird. Seamless service, from the attractive hostess reflexively busing small items off the table as she walks past, to our engaging waiter David exhibiting impressive knowledge of menu minutia. For example, Bacon Panisse, panisse is similar to polenta, but made with chick pea flour and, in the case of accompaniment to our venison entree, shaped into bacon infused logs and pan fried.

    Salad of endive with crispy potato, basil, dijon, pancetta and poached egg still thrills and Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with baby leeks, artichokes, puffed rice with remoulad is a delicious reflection of Blackbird's new Chef de Cusine, Mike Sheerin, WD-50 heritage. Seared Diver Scallops, the third appetizer for our table of three, paired lightly tart apples with the silky hint of sea sweet scallops, an inspired combination.

    In addition to the aforementioned venison we enjoyed Seared Alaskan Halibut with spring onions, swiss chard, fried capers, pine nuts, slash of intense lemon puree and an out of the box garnish of pickled bone marrow. Grilled California Sturgeon was served oyster mushrooms, tender spring peas, guanciale and rye gnocchi. The rye gnocchi had an intense rye flavor, quite firm, a thoughtful accompaniment to the sturgeon preparation.

    Milk Chocolate Cremeux with coconut-curry ice cream, cashews and lime pleased, but Mission Fig Beignet with black raspberries, butterscotch and bacon ice cream hit a home run. Bacon Ice Cream, oh yeah!

    Blackbird remains fresh, innovative and a favorite spot, quite an accomplishment given the fact it's in it's ninth year of operation.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Blackbird
    619 W Randolph St
    Chicago, IL 60661
    312-715-0708
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #27 - September 3rd, 2007, 8:42 am
    Post #27 - September 3rd, 2007, 8:42 am Post #27 - September 3rd, 2007, 8:42 am
    My girlfriend and I finally made it to Blackbird for the first time on Saturday night, and had an 8pm reservation. We got there around 7:45, and the place was packed. We couldn't even sit at the bar, so we went next door to the sushi joint for a drink. We were able to get a seat at the bar when we got back at 8, and then were seated at about quarter after. It was still packed wall to wall. The room is very small, and very loud. They were playing classic alternative rock, like the Cure, New Order, and RadioHead, which I loved, but we were somewhat skeptical of the way the evening started, especially since the bartender wasn't real interested. Once it got started I'd say we had one of the 3 or so best meals we had ever had. It exceeded all of my expectations, despite the fact that I had a cold and wasn't feeling particularly well.

    I had the suckling pig appetizer, and my girlfriend had the braised octopus. The pig was incredible. The octopus was the least enjoyed dish all night, but it was still pretty good. For my entree I had the organic pork belly with bbq consume, and she had the muscovy duck breast. I'm sure you can see a pattern developing in my menu choices. Both entrees blew us away. Both were incredibly tender and complex with great textures. The duck was served rare and had incredible flavors with the honeydue and cucumbers. I'd describe the pork belly as basically being the best "pulled pork" I've ever had.

    For desert we had the fig beignets with blackberries and bacon ice cream. I am not kidding. It wasn't the greatest, but it was in fact pretty damn good, and it was incredibly fun to eat. Our server, David, was having a great time with us because he knew how much we were enjoying ourselves. We basically put ourselves in his hands and he took great care of us. I had asked him if I was overdoing the pork thing, and he said absolutely not. I'm glad I listened to him. We also had two different amuse busches on the house, and a complimentary snifter of rum to go with the desert. All in all, I've only had a couple of other dining experiences on par with this one, in terms of both taste and how much fun I had. The only other comparable dining experience I've had recently was at Babbo this summer. Obviously the two have very different types of food, but both are equally delicious and fun.
  • Post #28 - September 25th, 2007, 7:38 am
    Post #28 - September 25th, 2007, 7:38 am Post #28 - September 25th, 2007, 7:38 am
    Finally got to blackbird last night- food was excellent, service was fair to poor. I literally was shoulder checked into the bar by an employee who didn't even bother to apologize.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.
  • Post #29 - September 25th, 2007, 12:48 pm
    Post #29 - September 25th, 2007, 12:48 pm Post #29 - September 25th, 2007, 12:48 pm
    My girlfriend and I are finally going on Saturday night-- I can't wait. I assume that the scallop appetizer and whatever iteration of pork belly is available are must-haves; are there any other dishes that are not to be missed?
  • Post #30 - September 25th, 2007, 1:26 pm
    Post #30 - September 25th, 2007, 1:26 pm Post #30 - September 25th, 2007, 1:26 pm
    conor610 wrote:My girlfriend and I are finally going on Saturday night-- I can't wait. I assume that the scallop appetizer and whatever iteration of pork belly is available are must-haves; are there any other dishes that are not to be missed?
    My venison rocked as did my sweetbreads. Their wines by the glass are some of the best I've seen in a while at a reasonable price. Their full wine list didn't really blow me away, but drink the Ridge Zin- it's a nice glass for the price. How I wish someone would wise up to the fact that the 75 Cab Sav just ain't that good.
    is making all his reservations under the name Steve Plotnicki from now on.

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