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Restaurants & Bars 13

Blackbird - better than ever! (long)

stirs-the-pot | Dec 23, 200301:19 AM

I am always happy to report that one of our fair city's temples of gustatory delight is still delivering the goods.

Blackbird has always been a favorite of mine. Chef Paul Kahan, a supporter of the small farmer and artisanal producers has really matured and presides over one of our town's top tables. No gimmicks here (fighting fish or crystal staircases, etc.), just pure, elemental, seasonal cuisine.

Co-proprietor Donnie Madea, floating effortlessly between Avec and Blackbird greeted us warmly and showed us to our table (the dude is slicker than ball bearings on a 10w-40w floor).

We ordered a couple of glasses of the bubble (Billecart-Salmon) and by sip number two, an amuse bouche arrived.... a nubbin of seared, "wild" sea bass with a touch of faro and a dusting of black trumpet mushrooms in a buttery black trumpet essence.

On to dining companion enjoyed seared, day boat scallops atop a brandade fritter (glass of Kuentz Bas Alsace Reserve to accompany) while I had a bit of crispy, skinned suckling pig (with a glass of rather Burgundian Pine Ridge "Dijon clones" chardonnay). One course down and we were already "mind-blowed"!!!!!

Chef Paul then sent over two gratis orders of the foie gras special, seared on toasted brioche with huckleberry compote, crushed pistachios and bittersweet chocolate & red wine sauce (two complimentary glasses of a well matured Bonnezeaux were sent as well).

Entrees were roasted quail with gingerbread stuffing, salsify and baby Brussels sprouts, while I tucked into beautiful, rare venison loin with a dice of fingerling taters and roasted cipollini onions in a venison demi-glace (a bottle of still tight, 2000 JL Chave Saint Joseph lubricated each bite).

With some wine remaining we decided a bit of cheese was in order. My astute companion chose a Gorgonzola type Vermont cheese (the name escapes me) with amaretto syrup, blanched almonds and toasted fruit bread, while I savored some real, raw milk, mountain Vacherin (so ripe and runny it was served in a small bowl) with grilled peasant bread.

Never one to pass on the cocoa bean, my friend ordered a wonderfully dense "Chocolate Marquise" and whole milk ice cream while I went for the whimsical buttermilk "donut holes" with date & orange ice cream and a bit of citrus pastry cream. (we shared glasses of rich Pedro Ximenez and a 1954 "Malvasia" Madeira).

Seamless service was the paradigm throughout the meal.

So how much for this fun and frolic....$285.00 which included a generous and well deserved gratuity. As someone who has dined throughout the World (a few French "trois etoiles" joints included) I consider this quite reasonable, if not a bargain.


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