Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Blackbird, West Loop (longish)

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Restaurants & Bars

Blackbird, West Loop (longish)

GreenStreetThrill | Mar 27, 2003 01:17 PM

A colleague selected Blackbird for a 10-person birthday dinner last night; our experience was, on the whole, positive.

We shared 4 appetizers, and they cheerfully provided sharing plates. We should have heeded their advice, however, that the apps are sized for one person.
The ring-mold suckling pig presentation was a bit overwrought, but the flavor and texture would please any North Carolinian. The duck charcuterie plate contained a crisp-skinned, full-flavored sausage, as well as a pate with pistachios and a deliciously mustardy potato salad. Nothing life changing, but very solid. Slightly small for the price (10-13), methinks.

I had the 12-hour braised fresh bacon entree. Certainly a new experience, and the $23 price tag encouraged the experiment. One of the two pieces had the fat so well integrated into the meat, it was a juicy revelation, the crisp edge providing pleasant texture contrast. On the other piece, the fat will still too intact for my tastes, but the meat part was still pretty good. I wish they had been a tad more imaginative on the side dish, though.

I also tasted the venison (with an interesting chocolate sauce and barley that a friend described as "kinda like cocoa puffs") and beef tenderloin, and concurred with my colleagues that they were perfectly cooked. The halibut, which I did not try, got rave reviews. Another colleague ordered the lamp chops, but well-done (if you can believe that), so I didn't really get a useful sampling.

Dessert was wonderful; certainly comparable to MK. I had the golden raisin tart, which was a bit hard to break apart, but had wonderful tartness and texture, a generous dollop of craime fraiche on top, and pear chunks. I actually preferred the dried cherry-apple tarte tatin with hazelnut ice cream, but you get the idea.

Service was impeccable; we were a little loud and some of the group was oblivious to meal progression (drinks, ordering, etc.), but they took good care of us, and gave the birthday boy some chocolates along with a candle in his dessert. When a drink was spilled, an army arrived immediately to clean it up and replace our plates and napkins. And our waiter was quite helpful with the wine selection.

The wine list was a bit expensive - not much to choose from under $50, but there's good variety and a good deal in the 50-70 range if you're on an expense account.

You can definitely get out of there for less than 60pp if you're careful on alcohol or avoid dessert.

Beautiful people, yada yada yada, but not stuffy, IMHO. Worth a return visit next time I feel like tasty chi-chi "new american."

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