Blackbird – Hidden Gem of Black Mountain

Note: I’ve finally succumbed to adding food photos on my blog. I just thought that it might be nice to look at some of this not so delicious food for reference. But be nice, please!! Because all I’ve got is my iPod for picture-taking!

About thirty minutes from Asheville, the meaning of farm-to-table comes to life at the Blackbird restaurant. This quaint yet classy restaurant is tucked away in Black Mountain, part of a small cluster of cafes, businesses and restaurants with all the charm of downtown Grove Arcade. And it’s not just the allure of twinkle lights and a picturesque mountain setting that set this place apart from other restaurants: it’s the food.

As soon as you open the door and walk inside this small but welcoming restaurant, you’re nostrils are greeted with a delicious aroma of whatever delicacies the kitchen is currently working on. A friendly woman quickly approached the party in front of us to let them know their table was almost ready, and promptly told us the same. And she wasn’t lying. No more than a few minutes passed by before we were seated, and considering the small size of the restaurant, I was impressed.

I overheard the waiter at the table next to us talk about the freshness of today’s catch: local North Carolina striped bass. And as much as I wanted to go for the grouper, I couldn’t pass up just-in local bass.

With my mind made up on entrees, we took a few moments to choose an appetizer: a cheeseboard complete with four cheeses from Looking Glass Creamery in Fairview, North Carolina, an assortment of pickled vegetables and a decadent peach chutney. On the night we went, the board was loaded with two generous portions of goat cheese, one of which I believe had fennel in it, along with brie and cheddar cheese. There was pickled okra, pickled onion and olives to accompany the cheese as well as crackers and bread. We finished the whole thing. Well, almost everything. I hate okra.

For my entree, I ordered the striped bass with scallops and risotto and a lemon buerre blanc sauce. The risotto was creamy and the sauce was a perfect compliment to the light seafood flavors. Seared with skin still attached, there was the slightest crispy texture to the bass which was a great contrast to the melt-in-your-mouth quality of the scallops. They may have been the best scallops I’ve ever had.

My boyfriend originally wanted to order one of the specials – a whole quail – but was advised that it was only an appetizer. He got the duck accompanied by mushroom risotto in a black cherry demi-glaze instead, and the plate was clean before mine. I saw the quail at the table next to us, though, and it would have made a more-than-sufficient meal.

Now with all that I’ve raved about, I do have to add one peculiar thing I noticed about this restaurant. At 22 and 25, we were probably the youngest patrons by at least 20 years. And while this isn’t meant to offend, I do think it had something to do with the way we were treated.

The only problem I really had with this restaurant was that our waitress was pretty awful. It took her twice the time to bring us water as the people next to us who were seated at the same time. A coke that was empty halfway through the cheeseboard remained so until the very end of the entree. She would frequently disappear for long periods of time, and she never actually told us anything about the specials. Or even asked if we’d ever eaten there for that matter. When my boyfriend ordered the duck, she asked how he wanted it prepared and he said well done. Before I cut meat out of my diet, duck was one of my favorite meals, so I assumed she would mention that duck is usually best cooked medium. Even medium-well is somewhat pushing it. But she didn’t say a word and rushed off. The reason I think our age had something to do with it is because the next table she took care of who were seated right next to us – and were in there 50s-60s – were afforded every cordial gesture she could muster, including things she neglected to do for us. The other waiter was very nice, so I can only assume that she thought we might not be good tippers based on our age, but, well, that’s her loss not mine.

Overall, the poor service can’t pull my overall score for this place down because the food and ambiance was flawless. If you’re looking for a delicious meal that utilizes local meats, produce and even cheeses, Blackbird is the place to go.

 

Recommended: Absolutely, especially for a romantic dinner (the scenery outside is breathtaking)

Overall Rating: 10/10

Price: A la carte entrees are about $20; Appetizers (including salads) are about $10

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