For my fiancée’s birthday, I decided to make reservations at Blackbird. We have been to Avec and The Publican, sister restaurants to Blackbird, and love them both, so a special occasion seemed to warrant dinner at the fine dining establishment of the group.
The waitress told us that the endive salad had been on the menu since the restaurant’s opening in 1997. I sort of have a weakness for anything with a poached egg on it, so I haaaad to order it. The salad was presented in a delicate basket made of crispy potatoes with endive spears jutting out of the top and - the gem - the lovely poached egg nestled right on top. With a knife and fork, the waitress broke open the egg and cracked the basket, unfolding the picture you see below (and revealing the pancetta!).
The salad was very good, albeit a little difficult to get all of the goodness in one bite. Securing the crispy potatoes, some endive, a little egg and pancetta was a less than graceful act. However, the crunch of the endive and potatoes, the warm liquid from the egg, the punch from the Dijon and the salt from the pancetta made for a great multi-sensory in-mouth experience.
For my entrée, I went with the Pekin duck. Aesthetically, this dish seemed flat. The meat, the sauce and half of the accompaniments were all brown. There’s some green hidden under there, but the sight of the dish led me to skepticism. Upon first bite, I thought, “Wow!” Upon second, I thought, “Hmm?”
The first bite seemed so full of flavor while the rest seemed lost. There were delicious little churro-like crisps around the plate with a cinnamon flavor that complimented the duck perfectly. However, the duck was sliced so thick and was cooked rare enough that it was difficult to cut through the meat. Unless I cut the duck into very thin slices, it felt like I was chewing a tough, raw piece of meat. Not pleasant. The portion was also very large. I could not make my way through all of the meat and shared two of the pieces with my man.
Since we were out celebrating a birthday, we decided we had to get dessert! (who am I kidding? we would have gotten it anyway…) We decided to order a pot of french press coffee and the creamed corn ice cream.
Oh. My. God. When you are finished reading this, please immediately proceed to Blackbird and order this! Okay, lemme back up a sec. The french press coffee was notably fantastic. It was Intelligensia coffee and had a wonderful deep note of the perfect marshmallow - I’m talking the kind that you almost, but not quite, catch on fire and then quickly extinguish for the most perfect nutty, sort-of-burnt, marshmallowy flavor. Yes, that.
Interesting, right? The moment my spoon began to glide ever so smoothly through this frozen delight, I knew I was in for it. The depth of the creamy, richness of the ice cream was enhanced by the creamed corn flavor to the point of magical, buttery perfection. To bring you back down to Earth and remind you that there’s more to this dessert than magic corn-butter-cream, there are petite bacon, hush puppy-esque bites alongside the log of ice cream. They offer a wonderful balance of savory flavor and cakey, but slightly crisp texture to – can you believe this – allow you to further appreciate the satiny ribbons of creamed corn iced cream on your tounge. Although, I am describing flavors that you would more readily associate with breakfast or dinner (corn, bacon, hush puppies), this preparation leaves no doubt in your mind that you’ve just had dessert.
Overall, I was disappointed in Blackbird. After visiting Avec and The Publican several times, I had high expectations for the priciest restaurant of the three. However, the dessert certainly blew me away, leaving me with a smile on my face and a generally positive feeling about Blackbird.