Tonight was my first night of the summer in Chicago. My first significant meal was at Blackbird. I managed to secure a seat at the bar (but not at a table) calling only a couple hours before. Blackbird does not have a tasting menu, so I kind of created one of my own. I ordered four appetizers and a dessert and was quite satisfied.
As another poster noted, everything at Blackbird was very solid, quite tasty, and subtly creative. Like good contemporary American cuisine, just one level higher. I don't usually dine alone at the bar, I prefer tables, but I must say I enjoyed my experience given the energy of this restaurant. It is undeniably busy and quite loud. A true hive of activity in a rather small, minimalistic space.
-Amuse of trout belly and a really interesting barbeque consomme. I loved this.
-Crispy confit of swan creek farm suckling pig with cavollo nero, shaved chiogga beets, horseradish and banylus vinegar 13.
-Crispy veal sweetbreads with nichols farm baby leeks, fresh green almonds, puffed wild rice and remoulade 13.
-Braised octopus with fresh hummus, charred ramps, sesame brittle and chickpeas 14.
-Soft shell crab (not on the online menu) for $15.
-Milk chocolate cremeux with coconut-curry ice cream, cashews and lime 10.
My favorite dish was definitely the sweetbreads, totally delicious with the puffed wild rice adding great texture. I thought the octopus was a bit weak because the terrine portion (literally a slice of compressed octopus meat that looked cool in a vaguely gruesome sense--I mean this as a compliment) lacked seasoning. It was interesting texturally but needed some salt or acid to perk up the flavor. The confit tentacles were much better. The pork dish was very nice, if perhaps slightly thrown out of balance by the banylus vinegar. I liked it, but it was probably too assertive objectively speaking.
I also really enjoyed talking to one of my bartender/waiters, whose name I believe was Brandon. Cool dude and full of information for a newcomer to the Chicago food scene like me. If only I could remember all the places he told me about; I'll try to get to them all eventually. Also sat next to a nice couple restaurateurs from Ohio in town for the NRA show. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Blackbird isn't the type of restaurant I usually go to, it's a bit loud and hectic for my tastes. Given that, I was quite pleased with this first meal. I spent a bit more than I would've liked ($103 after tax, tip, and a meh glass of Sanceree), but I'd go back to try more of the menu. I'm also interested in Avec, as its crowds were literally spilling out onto the sidewalk with everyone drinking and eating.
ETA: I just realized why Chef Sheerin looks so familiar. Wasn't he the sous-chef at wd~50? I think so.
Edited by BryanZ, 21 May 2007 - 09:41 PM.