Saturday, 17 May 2014

Casual Dining - Blackbird Bar

Right idea, at the right place at the right time.  How else can you explain Blackbirds meteoric rise to the top of the Brisbane dining scene?  I guess if you add a super star Aussie chef who perfected his trade in some of the best restaurants in the world and a really smart pricing strategy, it actually turns out to be a pretty good recipe for success. 

I'd been to the main dining room at Blackbird a few times (see post here) and fell in love with the place straight away.  Funny thing, I wasn't the only person and it seems as if Blackbird is the place that's on everyone's lips at the moment.  I'm not sure how many restaurants around Brisbane there are where it can be almost impossible to get a last minute reservation.....  on a Tuesday night!  There wouldn't be many.

Blackbird is more than a restaurant, much more, and I was recently invited to come along and check out the other half of the establishment, which is the seriously cool looking bar area.  Now most of you know that I'm not a big drinker and you're probably wondering why I'd go to and checkout Blackbird bar?  Well, wonder no longer, I was actually there to check out the  bar menu, which I'd heard was also pretty spectacular.  SC on the other hand was more excited about the cocktail menu, so we both had something to look forward to.

Tucked away at the back of the Pig'n'Whistle in Eagle Street, Blackbird can be a little difficult to find for the first time, but our radar was finely tuned and we were there in a flash.  As we made our way up the stairs, my inclination was to make a left turn and head to the super plush dining room, but instead 'hung-a-right' and we made our way to the spacious indoor/outdoor area that made up the Blackbird bar.  It was a just after noon on a Sunday afternoon, quite some time before the space would light up with a DJ spinning some tracks at Panama Sundays, but we weren't there to party, we were there to do some eating!

The first thing you notice when walking into the bar area is the fantastic and panoramic view of the Story Bridge and Kangaroo point.  It's really quite breathtaking and highlights just what a fantastic location Blackbird has taken over.  Once you've settled down from the great view, it becomes apparent that the team have put together a quintessentially cool bar space that is quite plush and in keeping with a 1920's Great Gatsby theme.  There are two distinct ends of the bar, a white space and dark space with each of the areas including comfy couches and tables decked out in either white leather or dark brown leather.  We went for the dark side, mainly because it had better views of the bridge.

We were handed the cocktail menu and the bar food menu and while I started to study the food on offer, SC quickly scanned the cocktail menu which reflected the 1920's theme with cocktail lists like 'Bootlegger Cocktails' and 'The Roaring 20’s Cocktails'.  They were interesting enough to even capture my attention and I somehow found myself ordering a cocktail as well...

The bar menu at Blackbird is split out into 'snacks', something 'a little larger' and 'sides' and while there are some usual bar food options available, they've been jazzed up quite a bit.  What's most exciting about the menu is the assortment of seafood options, which looked fresh and delicious.  We decided that we'd take the advice of our waiter for the day and have a bit of a mix.

We started with a simply stunning looking assortment of seafood with the mixed seafood platter for two.  It was like looking at 'Noah's ark' with two of each kind of seafood, with the exception of oysters but there were two different types.  We started with the Mooloolaba prawns, which were peeled and ready to be dipped in the delicious and tangy cocktail sauce.  After devouring the prawns, it was time for the scallops, which looked to have been lightly ceviched and were incredibly fresh and tasty, there was no need to dip these in sauce.

Working our way down the plate and it was time for the Oysters.  There were two types and we started off with the plump and slightly saline coffin bays which had a beautiful taste of the sea.  We saved our Jedd oysters for next, which we were advised are specially and uniquely prepared for Jake and flown up daily from a secret location (OK, I've forgotten where!).  The coffin bay oysters were good, but the Jedd oysters were something special, I need to know where these come from so I can get more (Jake, can you help a foodie out here?)  We saved the best for last and quickly gobbled up the Moreton Bay bugs.  What I loved about the bugs was that they had been removed from the shell in the kitchen, then placed back in for aesthetics and easy removal by the customer (us).  The bugs were fresh and delicious, especially in that wonderful cocktail sauce.

Following on with the suggestion from our waiter, the wagyu beef with double smoked bacon cheeseburger with green tomato pickles was presented.  We'd asked for it to be cut in half so we wouldn't over eat and I was glad that we did.  The burger had a lovely thick patty of wagyu beef that had just a hint of pink (just the way I like it), was dripping with melted cheese and had plenty of smoky bacon.  While it wasn't the best burger I've had in town, that honour still sits with Howzat (see post here), it would come a close second.  Having said that, the chips were simply awesome and crispy with a lovely spiced salt that really added to their flavour.

By the time we'd finished the burger and fries, we were pretty full but there was one thing we just simply had to try, especially once I found out about the crispy pork kromeskies with citrus herb mayonnaise.  Like croquettes but filled mostly with pork, they looked lovely on the plate, almost like little soldiers lining up for battle.  If they were soldiers, they were on the losing side and quickly disappeared from view as we demolished them, one after the other.  The crispy golden coating covered a sweet pork filling and slathered in herb mayo.  Yum!

If we were stuffed before the kromeskies, we were heading for a food coma once we'd finished them off. We'd really enjoyed the bar food options at Blackbird but for me the real star of the show and the reason why I'd be back was that simply stunning seafood platter.  I'm a big fan of seafood but to have all of my favourite seafood options (minus lobster) on one plate was just wonderful.

We were the only people at the bar when we first arrived but the 'barflies' had obviously started crawling out of bed from a big Saturday night and were starting to wander in and find spots for a big Sunday night.  While we left before the Panama Sunday session started, we really loved the beats playing through the sound system and SC had 'shazammed' a heap of silky smooth deep house tracks that had made our time at the bar even better.

It's easy to see why Blackbird is the venue on everyone's lips about Brisbane, it's an amazing space, both in the main restaurant and in the Bar area.  I have a list of four or five restaurants that I regularly dine at on rotation and there is no doubt that Blackbird has made that list.  Jake, you'll be seeing much more of FoodMeUpScotty!


**I was invited along by the team at Blackbird on this occasion to check out the Bar menu

The kromeskies were lovely and golden and just yummy
Fresh bun, wagyu beef, lots of bacon - what could be better?
The chips were awesome and crispy but interestingly there was a hoisin sauce to dip them in
Comfy chesterfields to while away an afternoon - such great views
The bar is huge!
My dad had one of these!
Plush seating that can be closed off for a little privacy
There was a lot of booze at the bar..... a lot!

BlackBird Bar & Grill on UrbanspoonBlackbird Bar & Restaurant

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