Blackbird, the latest from Table to Tavern partners Rob Lanphier and Angie and Brian Midtbo, who also own Atticus and Boone's Tavern, is opening today at 3 p.m., in the space that formerly held HandleBar Tavern and Abo's. A grand opening is scheduled for next Monday, December 1, at which point Blackbird will also begin daily lunch service at 11 a.m. Weekend brunch will be added beginning December 11. While the restaurant is designed to appeal to a broad range of customers, the primary focus is on a comfortable, casual and unpretentious setting with a creative but not intimidating menu.
Brian Midtbo describes the cuisine and vibe as Napa-inspired and clean, and says that at least 30 percent of the menu will be vegetarian. House-made ingredients and international touches dot the menu of chef Thomas Newsted (an alum of Kevin Taylor's Limelight and Palettes), including Table to Tavern's signature smoked chicken wings with sauces that aim more for unique flavor than searing heat. Although bar bites and shareable snacks, such as crispy chicken skin with kumquat harissa yogurt sauce and a "potted pig" made from shredded cheek meat flecked with herbs and mustard seed, are part of the relaxed and rustic fare, a level of sophistication is evident in the lamb T-bone, whole fried branzino (which will make occasional off-menu appearances) and teres major steak tartare.
"We would feel honored if Blackbird became a destination," says Midtbo, "but ultimately we hope 85 percent of our business comes from the neighborhood." As part of the neighborhood appeal, the space now includes a community room that guests can use for group gatherings. Lanphier expects customers to range from groups of friends looking for a quiet evening with drinks to later, industry employees attracted to the bar program, designed by Sean Kenyon of Williams & Graham. Expect an approachable beer, wine and cocktail list with fun touches like an after-10 p.m. shot and beer special.
And the plans don't end there: According to Midtbo, the team hopes to add a weekday farmer's market in the parking lot during the growing season that will offer fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmers that Blackbird will rely on for much of its produce.
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Keep reading for more photos from Blackbird.