Blackbird Revisited

My dinner companion, David, and I tried to get into Heidi’s, Stewart Woodman’s new bistro named after his wife this past Saturday. Of course without a reservation it was an hour wait.

Since Blackbird, co-owned by Chris Stevens and Gail Mollner, is right next door, at 50th and Bryant, I thought to myself, “I really should give the restaurant another shot.” I wanted to see if I could get past the antlers. I have to say that this time around they didn’t bother me. I guess the first time it was just the initial shock.

We started at the bar with a Bell’s Winter White Ale while we waited for a table. It’s a wheat ale brewed with American Wheat and a blend of Hefe and classic Belgian-style yeasts. Even for me, who really enjoys a dark beer “that you have to chew”, this was quite refreshing.

I don’t know if it was Chris or Gail that made the decision, but we were fortunate enough to catch their extended prix fixe menu from Valentine’s Day for $30 per person. I don’t often make cream of celery soup, so I decided that it should be my first course. It was velvety smooth with the subtlety of fresh celery and not overpowered by cream. I decided to go vegetarian for my second course of gnocchi: handmade potato dumplings tossed with garlicky mustard greens, roasted tomatoes, olives and manchego. This is on their regular menu at $12.95. Mustard greens, being hearty winter fare in their own right, really hit the spot. I should have asked for a soup spoon to savor every last drop of garlicky sauce.

David had the Pork Confit: a braised pork shoulder served with oven roasted grapes, root vegetable hash and a red wine reduction. Again, this was another regular menu item at $16.95. He let me taste a cluster of roasted grapes which actually went quite well with my gnocchi. The fact that they were roasted on stem was novel, yet made perfect sense.

We shared a trio of desserts which included a chocolate tart with a lemon sauce; a jasmine tea crème brûlée; and a carrot cake with goat cheese frosting. David finished off the brûlée, while I enjoyed the carrot cake the most.

We’re glad we didn’t have to move our cars to find another place to eat and even happier that we gave Blackbird another look see. Even though it was packed when we arrived, the bar did not seem crowded nor did we feel as if we were intruding on anyone’s space. Now that I’m comfortable with the surroundings, I’m looking forward to my next visit and what Chris may have up his sleeve for spring. Oh, and thanks, Gail, for coming out and saying hello.

Blackbird, 815 West 50th Street, Minneapolis MN – 612.823.4790

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