Lunch at Blackbird, Chicago

Blackbird is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago.  Located on 619 W. Randolph, this Paul Kahan (chef, owner) eatery has won numerous accolades including numerous James Beard Foundation awards.

We were early for our reservation and enjoyed hanging out on a relatively warm Chicago afternoon till our table was ready …

Once seated we were in the very capable hands of our host and server Matthias.  He helped us through the entire menu selection, provided exceptionally warm service and to boot handed me over a list of a dozen great restaurants around Chicago (some that we tried and some that will be saved for our next visit!).

The dining space inside the restaurant is small and most tables close to each other unless you are seated by the window which offers a bit more intimacy.

We scored the table by the window!

We kept the ordering process simple; Pre-fixe was the way to go.

Connie chose the beet soup with bacon, roasted orange and endive marmelade.  Rich, thick and full of fresh beet flavor with a gorgeous dark color.  Great soup to start off the meal.

I chose the charred baby sepia with green tomatoes, blueberries, chamomile almonds and cynar.  The sepia is a cuttlefish generally caught for food in the Mediterranean, East Asia, and the English Channel.  The preparation at Blackbird had a nice grilled, chewy and dense texture with Cynar, an Italian bitter aperitif made from 13 herbs and plants.

For the entree, we both chose the wood-grilled sturgeon with chantrelles, kohlrabi, plums thai poppy jam and brown butter fish sauce.  The sturgeon was perfectly cooked with the a fruity, woody, and earthy fragrance on the chantrelles. The kohlrabi added a nice texture but could have used a lighter touch on salt.

Perfectly matched with a dry white recommended by Matthias … yikes – what was it?  My memory fails me.

And finally the dessert.  Connie chose the bittersweet chocolate cremeux with cashews, butternut squash and bergamot. Beautifully presented artwork on a plate, the creamy mousse like flavor of the cremeux was nicely balanced with the crunch of the cashew nut and fragrant bergamot.

I chose the almond financier and curd with plums, curried cous cous and thai basil.  The financier cake was moist made with almond flour with beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites and powdered sugar.  The name “financier” is said to derive from the traditional rectangular mold, which resembles a bar of gold.  Another theory says that the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding La Bourse du Commerce (the former name of the Paris stock exchange).

This Financiers was accompanied by plum curd in place of the normal whipped cream.  The subtle curry and basil was a nice touch.

It’s cutting edge cuisine and people like Matthias that make Blackbird and the great city of Chicago such great dining destinations.  Can’t wait for next meal there.

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