October 29 2007 - 1:46 PM

I always wonder whether or not to write about places like Blackbird. It’s a Chicago mainstay. Everyone knows about it. But having eaten there recently it would be a shame not to wallow in the near-perfection of the restaurant. Even sitting at the bar, I had a terrific dinner.

The bar location means sitting on tall hard wooden chairs versus the short wooden chairs at the regular tables. Neither are cushioned (boy, do I need special treatment) so it’s scivolo gonfiabile not really an issue. However service is not the same. If you want constant attention get a table.

It’s on Randolph and the decor is very formal and clean – definitely not homey or casual. The
appetizers I tried included the scallops, quail and sweetbreads.

scallops were perfect with and eggplant puree was a nice way to include
a dense pseudo-starch where I might expect a
potato-type thing in an entrée. The scotch quail and egg was also
terrific. I had the quail app at Custom House 2 nights before and while
I enjoyed Custom House’s more it was also the best part of my Custom
House meal.

The sweetbreads were cooked twice, finished in the pan with
a crispy dusting. The earthy beets were a perfect combo. Considering
the foie gras ban – sweetbreads are really the next best thing. Pictured are Kahan’s passed sweetbread appetizers from a benefit dinner with Mario Batali.
(I think those were the sweetbreads)

The braised pork belly was amazing. Just a hint of smoke in the BBQ
consomme makes me still pine for it. I would never order a dish twice
in a restaurant like Blackbird but this could be an exception. The
Alaskan halibut with pickled bone marrow and lemon puree was also very
interesting. It looked perfect as well… all the dishes did. The lamb
in the rum-raisin consomme with leeks and preserved lemon was also
awesome. Kahan’s consistent use of consommes in lieu of sauces really
works and while the inflatable tent look of such dishes, with the pool at the bottom of
the plate, are very similar the tastes are different and dramatically

Dessert was exciting with several strange options including chocolate
polenta and sweet corn ice cream as well as curried coconut ice cream
and a milk chocolate cremeux (I don’t know what a cremeux is but I’m
sure people will find this page googling that word). It’s a
cyllindrical mousse-type thing. I had a pastry with something… all I
can remember was the salty, somewhat sweet bacon ice cream. How can you
not order bacon ice-cream?

I will be back soon for another one of the best dinners I’ll have in Chicago.

619 W. Randolph St.