So, at graham elliot's we indiscretely asked the waiter: where else would you go in Chicago? And one place he mentioned was Blackbird. So off we went, for lunch because . . . . well, we wanted to try Blackbird and lunch was what we could arrange. And a dandy lunch we had. A dandy one.
Ever since then, various songs have been flitting through my brain involving blackbirds. And not blackbird pie but songs like this one. Yep, the Beatles. No reason -- just came to mind when I first heard of a restaurant called . . . Blackbird.
What did we eat and drink at this Michelin starred restaurant? Well, I just had to order the drink called the blackberry betty. And my dining partner drank a wine (a cotes du rhone) -- which was not so swell and eventually was replaced by a blend with the word blackbird in its name. (My tweak to the restaurant -- and to us -- is trust the diner's judgment. If the diner thinks, on a quaff or two, that the wine won't work, it is already not working and should, as this one eventually was, be replaced. At no cost to the diner. Quickly.)
Tweaks to the contrary notwithstanding (a phrase I love), the meal was swell. We each began with cucumber soup -- and it was the most cucumber-y thing ever. Smooth. Green. Cucumber-y. With it, I had a pork belly sandwich, which I chose after some dithering because face it, I love pork belly. It was swell, though I admit it was a bit much for me. It came with a cucumber and fennel salad which had a light cream-like dressing and which was really really nice -- light, just the right fennel (aka licorice) note to the ensemble casting. And my dining companion had duck confit and sausage. This was delightful; the confit not too salty or dry, and in fact with a mouth feel closer to braised, and the sausage finely groundf and lightly seasoned. Mmmm. Afterwards? Well, yes we got espresso (I do not know why and I admit I prefer mine to come closer to dessert) and desserts. What were the desserts? Lovage ganache and quinoa crunch with chocolate (on my part) and a frozen parfait-like thing deconstructed (which came with the most delightful milk meringue floating beside it -- whiter than any food I have ever seen before).
The setting was nice. We liked the sleek but welcoming mix of white and steel. I especially liked the swoop of steel -- or at least metallic -- above the area of the kitchen, and hte combination of white table cloth vibe with easy going, white paper on the table vibe. There was a little more hautiness to the wait staff vibe than I actually enjoy -- really, I do know food, really I do -- and I do not think treating people in a snotty sort of way improves the food -- but hey, I had just been to several other nice places.
All in all, and despite that, a lovely lunch. And what urban spoon thinks, though more likely about dinner, is still relevant: