Urbanspoon have been performing some sneaky black magic lately – and by that I mean in conjunction with Dimmi they have been offering a weekly 50% off dining special. The half asian inside me loves a good bargain, and being a food blogger, I love any excuse to eat out!
My first 50% off meal was at Shiro, and I’d since booked meals at Midori and Dux but had to cancel them because of conflicting plans. But I didn’t mind too much because I knew I had Blackbird (and some other great restaurants) still on the cards. And I have been keeping an eye on this restaurant for sometime as a place to try.
Normally my partner Jeremy is my go to dining partner, but I decided to use this occasion to catch up with one of my close girlfriends (and beloved dining companion) Linda. She was definitely happy to indulge at this European restaurant given the discounted price.
We arrived fifteen minutes early for our booking since we met after work, but that didn’t phase our helpful waitress who seated us straight away without batting an eyelid. The restaurant was empty, and sadly only one more couple entered during our time in the night. I actually felt sorry for them because there’s a great deal of potential in this place but the location seems to leave it relatively unknown.
Though we were eying the cocktail menu, Linda and I couldn’t go past the mocktail drinks they have on offer. She chooses one made up of Apple, Mint, Lime & Dry Ginger Ale ($7.50). As expected it’s delicious – zingy but not overly sweet. It’s a great beverage to enjoy with dinner.
I pick a drink that’s made up of Valencia Orange & Passionfruit Spritz ($7.50) that’s vibrant, sweet and just a little sour. Love!!
As my residential bread loving friend, Linda is quick to insist that we need to order the Warm Baguette with Olive Oil & Balsamic ($2.50 per person). While I don’t eat bread often, I’m happy to agree because I do love olive oil and balsamic vinegar, especially with a sprinkling of sea salt (which they did have on hand!).
It comes out quite quickly after we order, four slices of baguette sitting prettily atop a wooden ball with the accompanying dipping oil. Sadly, though the bread is delicious, it is definitely not warm. In fact it’s actually cold, which detracts from the taste and the promised expectation of the menu item. It’s a really cheap starter item, but I do wish they’d come through on the temperature of the bread. Though in saying that, the olive oil and balsamic was punchy, clean and tasty.
We also order the Plat Du Jour ($15 per person) for our entree, which stands for the ‘plate of the day’. On this occasion the plate is made up of a fried polenta square each, two tomato & olive crudites each, two chorizo slices topped with mini gherkins each and a smoked fish arancini ball. Definitely an interesting combintion so I was eager to try them all out.
The plate is a little messy but that doesn’t bother me too much, though I do notice that one of the crudites has completely turned on it’s head, spilling the ingredients everywhere. We start with the polenta square and it’s so yummy. Well seasoned, crisp on the outside and a fluffy(ish) centre. A great start to the plate!
Next we tackle the crudites which are quite moorish. The mini toasts underneath are so crisp and crunchy, shattering under my teeth as I bite down. The tomato and olive combination is sweet with just the slightest tart note – a nice pairing which I was apprehensive about since I’m not the biggest fan of olives.
The arancini balls look amazing but they’re not to my personal taste. The smoked fish inside is quite overpowering and a bit too intense for my palate though I’m sure some people would really enjoy them. At first I had thought they sat upon a creamy sauce but it turned out to be mashed potato which was a little out of the ordinary but not necessarily a bad thing.
The final bite on the plate was the chorizo slices which were tasty – lightly grilled and a little sticky. Nice, but nothing earth shattering. And at $15 per person (standard pricing, not with the discount) the plat du jour is an expensive entree for sure. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m not so convinced it’s worth the cost given you can go to other restaurants and receive a full board of cured meats for the equivalent price elsewhere.
For her main Linda throws around a couple options before settling on the Black Angus Sirloin with Potato Puree, Brussels Sprout and Enoki ($37). She orders it medium rare and it comes out as a large chunk of meat – damn big indeed!
The dish is quite simple but I think that’s a benefit here and it looks really lovely, especially the fried cluster of enoki sitting on top of the meat (which Linda tells me is the best part of the meal – and based on my bites I agree!). The meat is a little clunky looking on the outside, but I like to think of that as rustic and it is cooked perfectly to her order. It probably could have used a bit more resting time as juices spill out when she cuts into the steak, but that doesn’t bother her and she enjoys the combination of the firm brussels sprout, the tender meat and the silky potato.
At $37 it’s the most expensive of the mains and while I have paid more for steak at other places, I’m just not sure how I feel about the pricing here. It feels somewhat awkward to say that because there wasn’t really anything wrong with the execution or flavours, I think it is just a little too expensive for what it was.
For my main, I was captivated by the sound of the confit chicken with black pudding stuffing on the website, but on the actual menu it was with an orange stuffing. So I quickly shifted my attention to the Ricotta & Parmesan Ravioli with Courgette, Almond and Sage Butter ($29).
It came out as an unexpected presentation of soft toothsome courgette slices topped with pillowy ravioli and a fresh rocket salad on top. As far as the ravioli goes, it was delicious but there wasn’t enough! I enjoyed the courgette underneath which was soft and flavoursome, and particularly liked the ricotta & parmesan filling though it was on the saltier side – but I would expect that from cheese so it didn’t bother me.
The real star of this dish was the almond and sage butter. The butter couldn’t be seen on the plate so it was more of a dry sauce, but the almonds created this fantastically nutty crunch to each bite, elevating the flavour profile. It made it a standout dish for sure though I wasn’t quite full by the end of eating which is rare for me!
By the end of our dining experience at Blackbird Linda and I both agree at 50% off, this was a definite bargain. We both enjoyed the food, though I don’t think there was anything particularly earth-shattering that would prompt us to return at full price. It’s unfortunate because there is definitely great potential here, and this is just my opinion – I’ve heard from others who love the place. But with that kind of pricing, I think there is definitely some stiff competition.
That said, I am looking back fondly on our night. Our waitress was friendly and attentive, topping up our water constantly and checking in without being intrusive. The atmosphere, though a little awkward from how quiet it was, is quite charming. I think this one is a place to watch or even try yourself to see what you think.