My Quest-For-The-Perfect-Shoe and needing to arrive at the Green Mill early enough to grab seats prompted friend and I to woefully cancel our last Wed. night rez at Blackbird. Instead, we found something close to our hotel in Gibson's and braved the ugly scene to eat quickly at the bar. We ate simply and well, jumbo shrimp cocktail, salads with dry bleu/vinaigrette combo and perfectly cooked salmon with lemon caper butter. Great cosmos, too.Followed by a long, smoky night of jazz by vocalist Kurt Elling and friends.
Fortunately for our palates,terrifically high winds were brewing in Chicago and Cleveland compelling white-knuckled flyer friend and I to stay another night. We easily made another date for Blackbird.For lunch, we stopped at the bar of my favorite, Frontera Grill. Two sopas de tortilla, app platter for two and a side of black beans later, we were on our way and I was already regretting not returning there or to Topolobampo later. I love Rick Bayless food. His flavors are so true and so addictive, I'm still in the deep throes of Crave a week later.
Blackbird. Full, but not unpleasantly so. Friendly host, impeccably informed and courteous server. We did not feel like we had been thrown into a den of hip/chic/trendy, (remember this is Chicago not New York).Happy to see Billecart-Salmon by the glass(can't get it in Cleve). For starters,an amuse of slightly poached salmon with mango salsa. Didn't love this. the salmon smelled a bit off. Friend had house salad of mixed endives, crispy pancetta, poached egg and red-wine vinaigrette. Served in a cylindrical fried potato basket. This could easily be lunch for me anyday. I opted for a buttery croustade filled with silken brandade, topped with a seared piece of fresh cod and topped with dollop of stringent tapenade. Rich and good. Mains were the essence of spring. Seared halibut in shrimp broth with poached shrimp, morels and peas. Subtle and good.Tiny rack of spring lamb with baby artichoke "chips" and ricotta dumplings in a grape reduction sauce. Beautiful lamb but dumplings were a tad burnt and sauce a bit cloyingly sweet. I drank an impressive Pinot by the glass;I wish I had written down the name. Skipped dessert and opted for another glass of champagne instead at the bar and chatted with other diners.
Honestly haven't though twice about that meal until now but I can't seem to get rid of the Frontera flavors spinning around in my taste memory.