Blackbird Birthday

19 Jan

There are many things I obsess over in my crazy life. One obsession is tastings. I L-O-V-E chef tasting menus. I just had my birthday and I was invited to dine at Blackbird with my man. Blackbird is my staple fall back restaurant in Chicago. If I want something good to eat, I go there. No matter what season, time of year, or even if I want lunch. It is great.

Blackbird has been around for what 14 years? Yes, it opened in 1997. Paul Kahan is a great chef and restaurateur. He is also behind Avec, the Publican, Violet Hour, and Big Star; soon the Butcher Shop. At Blackbird Kahan has a few great things going for him Chef Mike Sheerin, Chef David Posey, and pastry guru Patrick Fahy.

I have been going to Blackbird since 2001. There is something special about it. Maybe it is the modern elements of cuisine, attention to detail in service, staying a head of the curve, trying new things in the culinary world, but staying close to the hearts of midwestern folk. It has longevity as a Chicago restaurant. It is also very consistent. The other element I enjoy there is the dessert. Probably the strongest plated desserts in the city, hands down. There have been times I have dined there where the desserts have been stronger than the dinner entrees.

Ok so anther element I like about Kahan is that he respects the craft and art of charcuterie. His staff has trained with Chef Polcyn, my culinary mentor. So, I had the opportunity of working beside them during their stage many moons ago. I can still recall conversations I had with Koren Grieveson. He is very nice. Even in culinary school, I knew about Blackbird and Avec. I knew enough that they thought I worked there. Man, I was the nerdy student who had Blackbird’s number in my cell phone ready for last minute phone rezos for emergency eating trips to Chicago. Well, back to the meat.

Kahan has an emphasis on charcuterie. He began with Blackbird, then Avec, soon enough the Publican came in. Cured meat for all. It is great to see charcuterie and salumi get some love. One thing you need to try at any Kahan restaurant is the sweetbreads. It does not matter how they are prepared, get ready for melt in your mouth awesomeness. Plus, it is nice to see foie back on the menus is Chi.

So, the bulk of the matter is my birthday dinner. I have no photos, but the people next to me were like Japanese tourists and were so annoying with their food talk. Blah! I am sure they did not like our conversation that dealt with the concept of greatness, theater training, improv games, and a trip to europe. Anyways… here is the menu in its entirety. I’d like to note that there are bonus additions to the meal, the poached elk and cheese course.
Lamb’s Tounge
Golden raisin jam, sesame puree

Coffee-Scented Fluke Tartare
Lemon cucumber, saffron, bread sauce

Garbanzo Bean Soup
Falafel, pickled asian pear, caramelized egg yolk*, sumac

Alaskan Sablefish
Sweet potato brandade, shrimp braised onions, turmeric, pickled cranberries

Wood-Grilled Sturgeon*
Ham hock, red beet, cabbage, smoked dates, walnut consomme

Hudson Valley Torchon
Charred green garlic, black garlic, preserved plum, shrimp salt

Aged Pekin Duck Breast
Golden beets, chestnut soubise, munich malt

Duck Fat Poached Elk Strip Loin*
Whole wheat knefla, crispy broccoli, pickled mulberries, bergamot cream

Cheese Course
Spring Book Farm ‘tarentaise’ raw cow’s milk – roading, vermont
with pickled persimmon

Le Pommier ‘camembert’ cow’s milk – normandy, france*
with black trumpet mushrooms

Passion Fruit Sorbet*
Banana, caramel

Chestnut Brioche*
Pear, pedro ximenez, tarragon ice cream

Chocolate Ganache*
Tahitian vanilla gastrique, parsnip ice cream

*indicates dishes or elements that i really enjoyed in the tasting.

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

m-f 11:30-2:00

m-th 5:00-10:30
f-sat 5:00-11:30


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