Thursday, October 7, 2010

blackbird, chicago il
619 w randolph, chicago, il
thursday, october 7th, 2010, 12pm-1:15pm

opened in 1997, blackbird is one of chef paul kahan's three chicago restaurants, with avec and the publican being the others. situated in downtown chicago, blackbird's menu changes frequently and focuses on fresh seasonal ingredients. the restaurant was only a short distance from out hotel, so we decided to walk and enjoy the beautiful fall day

our reservations were for noon, and we arrived shortly thereafter. we checked in with the host, and were seated right away. at the time of our arrival, the restaurant was fairly empty, with only four or five other tables present. during our meal, the restaurant continued to fill, and was nearly at capacity by the time we departed.

blackbirds interior design is incredible, and can be best described as minimalistic modern. designed by architect and interior designer thomas schlesser, blackbird has actually won a james beard award for its design. please trust that my pics really fail to fully capture the overall feel of blackbird.

a nice whole grain bread with a sage and terragon butter was waiting for us at our table. the bread and butter was par for the course, but did not have us raving.

first up for me was the chefs daily soup. today, it was a garbanzo and fenel soup served tableside with caramelized egg yolk, asian pear, falafel, and sumac. the sweet flavors of the pear and caramel nicely offset the more rustic taste of the garbanzo, making this a truly unique and delicious soup. my wife was still in a food and wine coma from our twenty course blowout at moto the night before, so she unfortunately did not feel up to a big meal, thus deciding to skip a first course.

choosing my main course was difficult, but i decided on the pork belly sandwich. topped with cabbage slaw and dijonnaise, the sandwich was served with garlic frites and a winter vegetable salad. now i feel it necessary to mention that i normally would not eat a sandwich topped with slaw or dijonnaise. however, i am learning that in the hands of a world class chef, anything has the potential to be great. i am glad i took the risk, because the sandwich was wonderful. the slaw and dijonnaise were both used sparingly, and paired very well with the bold bacon flavor of the pork belly. the frites were also great, perfectly crisp on the outside and had a mild garlic flavor. the portion of frites was obviously enormous, and i was only able to consume about half of them.

my wife's lunch choice was the classic croque madame. also served with frites, blackbird's croque madame is made with house cured ham, swiss cheese, red onion, and topped with a fried egg. this sandwich was also quite good.

i had a very difficult time narrowing down my dessert choice, and if it weren't for our 5pm dinner reservation , i probably would have chosen two. as mentioned earlier, my wife was not up for a big meal, and skipped dessert. my decision was the sweet corn ice with bacon brioche, candied pecans, basil, and maple syrup. out of all the dishes i had on this trip to chicago, i think this is the one i can still taste the most vividly. the cylinder in the middle is essentially sweet corn flavored ice cream. paired with the maple syrup and brioche, the dessert was great in terms of both flavor and texture.

blackbird came highly recommended to me through various online reviews, and actually exceeded my expectations. the space was incredible, our server was extremely knowledgeable, and everything we ate was wonderful. blackbird features a much more extensive dinner menu complete with a tasting menu, and we have every intent to return for the full experience during a future trip to chicago.

Blackbird on Urbanspoon

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