Posted on | August 31, 2010 | 9 Comments |
Blackboard Bistro was opened early this August in West Seattle with an innovative concept â âName your priceâ tasting menu. Guests can decide the amount that they want to pay per person and the Chef will send out dishes until the budget is reached. Also, they have no printed menus, the menus are written on blackboards placed throughout the restaurant. According to their website, they are all about the food, simplicity, technique and flavor.Â Chef Jacob Wiegner, who spent the past two years as sous-chef at Olivar in Capitol Hill has worked in a variety of restaurants from French and English to Mediterranean, and Blackboard Bistro is about bringing all the cuisines together.Â He says in the opening announcement for the restaurant – âThis is where the idea of an American Bistro comes alive, a melting pot in all senses of the word.âÂ The menu reflects that idea.
When I called up BBB to make a reservation, I mentioned that there is a vegetarian in our group of four, who is also allergic to dairy. I was told that it was not a problem at all as they have a few vegetarian dishes in the menu and that the chef can customize any dish to avoid dairy products. Now that is a great sign. When we reached the restaurant, I saw that the reservation list had these notes next to my name, another good sign. But it turned out that our waitress didnât know about this and we had to repeat all this to her again. Not a big deal, but after all that fuzz I was expecting that she would at least look at the notes.Â These are the small extras which can elevate customer service to the next level.
While the name your price tasting menu works great in concept, it is not for control freaks like us. Once we saw slow cooked pork belly and beer battered okra in the menu, we just had to have them. So we decided to order out of the menu and be responsible for our own fate instead of leaving it to the chef. There were many tempting dishes on the board and everything was moderately priced from $6-$18, the trout being the most expensive at $18. Since there were four of us, we got to sample quite a few dishes and I loved most of the dishes.
The complementary bread came with roasted pumpkin seeds in brown butter and oregano. While I loved munching on the roasted pumpkin seeds, I didnât think that it was a great match for the bread.
The arugula salad with fine bean and red onion salad with walnut vinaigrette ($6) was a fresh and light starter.
Then came the slow roasted pork belly with frisee and deviled red beet egg ($10). This was my favorite of the night, the pork belly pieces were crispy fried on the outside and the inside was all melt-in-the mouth fat. The beet devilled eggs not only looked pretty but tasted great too. Next time I am getting one plate for myself.
The next favorite dish of the night were these beer battered okra with watermelon rind ketchup ($6). These were the freshest and the most tender young whole okra deep fried in batter and served steaming hot. So yummy, so crispy, so fresh. This is a must try dish.
Clams with spicy house made sausage, roasted fingerlings and creme fraiche ($13) was okay, I thought the potatoes were a bit of an oddity in there texture-wise and the broth was a bit blah, it could use some more bold flavors.Â
The sliders with crispy shallot rings ($12) had four sliders in an order, each with a different topping – red wine and shallot, foie gras, truffle and blue cheese. These were really really good! But it is a bit odd that each slider is different as it is hard to split a slider which means if four people share a plate, each gets a different one, more importantly only one person gets to enjoy the foie gras.
The below picture is the vegetarianized version of the gnocchi, which normally comes with braised lamb and summer squash. It was nice of them to make this customized version, but this had absolutely no flavors at all. A bit of seasoning would have taken it to a whole new level.Â
Thundering Hooves aged filet carpaccio with quail eggs, herb salad, picked carrots, shallots and capers ($16) was a bit too salty, but I enjoyed it. I was the only person on the table who enjoyed this though.Â
Pan fried trout with toasted brioche, spinach and lobster mushrooms and smoked trout hollandaise ($18) is another keeper dish and came in a generous sized portion which justifies the price.
We ended the meal with Fig roasted in vin santo with black pepper pastry, honey ice cream and pistachios ($6). Loved the combination of figs and ice cream, didnât care much for the pastry.
There were many hits and a few misses. Overall I loved the food at Blackboard Bistro, simple and fresh are the words Iâd choose to describe the dishes here. We are definitely going back and next time we might just try the tasting menu option as long as they agree to serve the okra and the pork belly as part of it.