Authors Note: I am not a professional food critic. I am a guy who likes to eat (too much) and can afford to go out a few times a month. These are my opinions based on my unique experience and should not be taken as a universal fact (unless I say this is an absolute fact).
A few weeks ago, I finally had a meal at Blackbird Dining Establishment in Collingswood, NJ. I know, you are saying “what’s your point?”, for me this was a victory because I have attempted to secure reservations at this place at least four times with no luck. Is Blackbird ultra-exclusive? No. Its just a small up-scale restaurant with a well trained clientele that makes reservations weeks in advance. On this particular Saturday, we were in luck, I guess the hard economic times freed up some spots and my wife and I with a group of friends managed to snag a table.
Thanks to joys of the internet, I like to look at menus and reviews of the restaurants before I go so there is no fucking around with the menu. I will listen to the daily specials and then make a decision. I checked out Blackbird’s site (Blackbirdnj.com) and discovered that Chef Alex Capasso based the menu on a Franco-Italian foundation. Whenever I see Franco associated with food I usually run. I find classic french cuisine to be pretentious and overdone. But I noticed an Asian influence on the menu and figured it was a solid combination.
Unlike many Collingswood restaurants, there is parking across the street for Blackbird which is especially great when you are running late. The restaurant was decorated tastefully and had an inviting feel. We sat down, the wait staff took our beverages to chill them (Blackbird like all Collingswood restaurants is BYOB). Blackbird’s menu is very small and focused. Normally I enjoy this but I felt that this establishment could benefit from a few more items. The daily specials didn’t interest me, so I had my meal picked out. Thai Chicken spring-rolls for the appetizer and Roasted Rib-eye for dinner. I noticed the wait staff while extremely nice, was moving quickly and I got the idea that they wanted us out quickly. I am okay with the idea of getting people in and out, but I can honestly say I felt rushed (our reservation was for 6:30, so I am sure they had a big crowd coming in starting at 7:30).
I will make this short. The food was very good. It wasn’t great, but it was very good. The spring-rolls were cooked well, nice texture, I just wish they had a little more flavor. The rib eye was cooked perfectly, but I felt the portion was a little too small. Yes I am a big guy, but after sharing a few small pieces with the table, I had like 5 bites of meat left, which is good for the waistline but bad for the wallet. The entree should have been priced at around 20ish and it was more like 30ish. The Franco element was clear when the focus of the dish was very much presentation and appearance first (although I have no complaints about the taste). We had a small dessert and went on our way.
I don’t know if I was expecting more since we have tried so many times to get a table at Blackbird, but when we finally did eat there, I came out thinking, that place was good, but we could have had a better meal at a slightly lower cost down the street at Casona (I will review that another time). Bottom line – Blackbird is a nice clean restaurant, with a friendly staff, cooks that know what they are doing, but a little overpriced for what you are getting. You can do alot worse.