Blackbird and Henry is modeled after pubs Schmidt experienced in England (his mother is from Liverpool and he visited England every summer while growing up and continues to visit periodically). The streamlined menu is "a collaboration of [Schmidt's] most notable dishes paying homage to Café 909, along with new creations inspired by his British upbringing and travels through Europe and North America." Every effort is made to utilize the abundant produce from local farmers, meat from local ranchers, as well as regional vendors.
To start I ordered the Classic Gimlet from the spirits menu; gin of choice (from those available) with house made lime cordial. Very refreshing. My husband chose the Real Ale Hans Pils from the the cluster of local beer offerings. At the suggestion of our waiter, we split the Warm Savoy Cabbage Salad with crispy bacon (pancetta), endive and maytag blue cheese. Even though it was warm, the salad still had enough crunch from the cabbage and endive, while the pancetta and blue cheese lent an extra added flavor punch. For entree, I had the Preserved Duck Leg with puy lentils, roasted mushrooms, mizuna and duck ham. This dish had so many wonderful elements, all of which came together as completely balanced. My husband decided to stick with the classic Chargrilled Rib Eye Steak "909" with buttery mashed potatoes topped with chile poblano sofrito and pickled red onions. It was hearty and perfectly cooked. He especially liked the sofrito layered on top of the steak. We couldn't resist the dessert menu. Normally we split dessert, but we each had our own cravings that suited us perfectly. I chose the Seasonal Fruit Tart which was rhubarb with frangipane and whipped creme fraiche on top. The rustic crust was flaky and tender and the rhubarb was beautifully prepared. My husband went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding, a steamed apricot sponge cake with toffee caramel and English custard. Not something I would order, but he was very happy with his choice. For our next visit we decided we must try Food & Wine's 2012 pick for best restaurant dessert, the Cafe 909 Frozen Pistachio Parfait.
This past week Blackbird and Henry started up their Curry Wednesdays, which includes a pint of beer on tap or a glass of wine, a hearty bowl of the curry of the day, chutney, pappadums and rice. Weekend brunch and weekday lunch are slated to start later this spring. I predict if they continue at their current pace, this neighborhood gastropub will be around for the long haul. (Cathy)
Gina and I are taking next week off for spring break. We will return to our usual posting schedule Monday, March 17.