Chicago: Blackbird

I'd decided my first year in Chicago that I would go to Blackbird with no one but my best friend.  The only problem was how to convince her to visit.  So when my best friend told me she'd booked her tickets, I informed her in no uncertain terms that we were going to put aside a day and dine at Blackbird:

Sometimes when restaurants try to take the modern design route, they end up looking cold and sterile.  Blackbird is an example of modern implemented well:

You can't really tell from this photo, but the stark white of the walls and tables is tempered by the soft grey of the seats and the copious amount of natural light allowed in by the huge windows.  The bright orange menus and the yellow daisies on the tabletops add whimsical pops of color.  The end product feels clean, rather than cold.

We started off the meal with some bread:

One of my pet peeves is hard, un-spreadable butter.  No such problem here!

Instead of ordering off the regular menu, we opted for the 3-course prix fixe lunch, which consisted of three appetizer options, two entrées, and two desserts.

For her appetizer, my bestie ordered the asparagus soup with egg yolk, green garlic, umeboshi, and lavender:

The color was just gorgeous and it tasted exactly as advertised.  Like asparagus.

I went with the warm sepia noodles with spring onion, avocado, green pumpkin seeds, and lime:

By far my favorite dish of the meal.  When our server warned me that it was a seafood dish, I was confused but not deterred (as if).  I wouldn't have been so confused if I'd known then that sepia can refer to more than just a color, but is actually also a type of cuttlefish.  As it was, I was astounded when my first bite revealed not pasta noodle, as I'd expected, but noodles made from cuttlefish.  SO DAMN GOOD.  I loved everything about it: the playful "noodles," the crunch of the pumpkin seeds, the buttery-ness of the pureed avocado, and the kick of lime.  

My best friend ordered the wood-grilled sturgeon with ham hock, red beet, cabbage, and smoked dates for her entrée: 

I chose the roasted chicken and sausage with lime onions, tamarind, and smoked cucumbers:

The chicken was smoky and juicy, but I wasn't blown away by it.  The tamarind was intriguing, however, and had an almost chocolate-y flavor.

For dessert, my best friend got the chocolate ganache with tahitian vanilla, gastrique, and parsnip ice cream:

The chocolate ganache was so very decadent, but I actually preferred my vanilla parfait with satsuma, campari, and caramelized white chocolate:

This deconstructed parfait was definitely my second favorite of the day.  The vanilla cream pillows were light and airy and contrasted nicely with the crunchy cookie bits.  The whipped cream foam I could have done without.  But what really won me over was the bright citrusy flavor added by the satsuma syrup.  

Tucked into the crunchy bits were two tiny, pink, gem-like candy balls.  I studied it for a long time (the transparent sugar exterior, the clear liquid trapped inside) before I finally popped one in my mouth.  UGH.  Alcohol.  Totally caught me off guard.

I loveLOVElove Blackbird.  High quality ingredients, impeccable presentation, playful execution, unexpected flavor and texture combinations, moan-worthy taste...everything that makes for a fantastic meal.  The portion sizes may look small, but they're actually quite perfect.  For $22, the weekday lunch prix fixe is a fabulous steal.

So what are you waiting for?  Grab your best friend and go!

619 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 715-0708


  1. May says the ham hock with beet sauce looks like smeared poo.


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