House of Skip

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blackbird Dining Establishment- Collingswood, NJ

As I headed out to dinner with my dining companion on Friday night, fear struck just as we neared out destination, what was the problem? TRAFFIC. We had not anticipated that the last 2 miles of our trip to Collingswood would take 20 minutes. Thankfully, when we arrived we scored a spot very close to the restaurant and the hostess at the door at Blackbird Dining Establishment, couldn't have been nicer and more forgiving of our lateness for our reservation.Apparently, many other diners had the same trouble, because the place was nearly empty when we arrived and filled up quickly after we were seated.

I had been wanting to get to Blackbird for a while, some trusted sources raved about not only Blackbird but also West Side Gravy, run by the same chef, Alex Capasso. The restaurants share an entrance in their new location in Collingswood, I had read some reviews online that said things had gone south after the move. Having never been there before, we cannot compare the before and after, but I think those people are crazy.

Blackbird has a classy decor with wooden floors and hammered copper tables. From just about any seat in the dining room you can see out the front window and watch the foot traffic in this quaint South Jersey town, if you've never visited Collingswood there are many great restaurants to visit along the main drag of Haddon Ave. HOS has previously visited and reviewed both Il Fiore (great, inexpensive Italian eats) and the Food Network featured, Pop Shop (amazing pancakes and we here the grilled cheese is ridiculously good.)

But back to the feature, Blackbird. In addition to the kind hostess, we were next greeted by a very cheerful waitress. She opened our wine, as Blackbird is BYOB, and told us about the specials. After looking over the menu one more time, we were ready to order. I started with a salad off the special menu, it was a spinach salad with gorgonzola cheese and pistachios. I also ordered an entree from the specials, the slow cooked shortribs, which sounded amazing. My dining companion ordered an appetizer that caught his eye immediately, Pan Seared Foie Gras, petite PBJ, salad of figs, walnuts,  and gorgonzola. For his entree he went with the pan seared lamb served over arugula.

My salad was yummy, simple and refreshing, which is how I wanted to start my meal. My companions appetizer was anything but simple, the flavors were complex and interesting, but worked together magically. It totally knocked his socks off! And I have to agree it was really good, we both knew right then and there that Chef Alex had some guts and was one creative guy. As we moved on to entrees we were not disappointed. My shortribs were fork tender and had any amazing flavor. There was just the right amount of mashed potatoes under the meat and tender asparagus spears scattered about. It was so delicious that I had to force myself to stop eating so I could take some home. And as another server came over to clear my plate, he offered that we could also take home the bone (which the meat melted right off of) if we had a dog, since we do not we declined, but that was a super thoughtful offer. There was nothing left on my companion's plate, as he had no trouble finishing the super lean lamb that was served over a yummy looking mound of arugula. The whole entree was fresh and healthy while still being delicious. The arugula had some pine nuts, golden raisins and a touch of Parmesan cheese to add flavor. My companion left with a full belly and a smile on his face.

We were offered dessert and coffee, but had to decline, however there were some really fantastic things on the dessert menu that I'd like to go back and try out! I have a feeling we'll be sampling Chef Alex's treats again soon.

So, in closing, Blackbird is a great place for an unique meal in a hip setting with super friendly and considerate staff. Thanks for a great meal!

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