1015 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 498-9224.

Yesterday I met up with some friends at Blackbird Kitchen for a casual Happy Hour. Being a fan of Chef Kevin O'Connor's cooking after dining at one of his amazing Treehouse dinners last year, I was really looking forward to seeing what his newest project with owner, Carina Lampkin had to offer. I loved the food but some other aspects of Blackbird left me pondering whether it'd be a place I'd return to.

First of all, the restaurant is in an awkward part of town (9th and K) for accessibility and parking. I live in Midtown but usually tend to avoid that area because of the mess of cars, construction zones and abundance of panhandlers. I ended up having to make several laps around the area before I was able to find a parking spot that was open and not in a tow-away zone. The restaurant was a little easier to locate since the front wall showcases a big mural of blackbirds in flight. The interior is separated into two-stories with the bar/lounge area occupying the lower half and a small dining room in the upper loft space. The decor is quite eyecatching- hip shades of greys accented by a wrought iron staircase and interesting bits of artwork...very urban. Some time and thought were definitely put into creating an aesthetically pleasing oasis for their patrons.

My friends and I were looking forward to nibbling on some small dishes since we had heard rave reviews regarding Blackbird's fresh seafood Happy Hour which consisted of oysters ($1), fish tacos ($5), and mini lobster rolls ($5); however, when I inquired about the HH menu we were advised by our server that they were no longer offering the lobster rolls. Strange since, just that morning I had received an email from Downtown Grid touting Blackbird's HH lobster rolls and it's still listed on their online HH menu. A bit disappointed but not dissuaded, we decided to order some fish tacos and the lobster and beet salad ($15). The fish tacos were delicious- they consisted of two perfectly executed mini tacos made of fried cod topped with cabbage and some sort of relish. The fish had a subtle, spicy curryish aftertaste that was very appealing. The Maine Lobster and Roasted Beet salad was gorgeous in presentation- large chunks of lobster intermingled with fresh burrata and delicious candy colored beets cut into bite-sized wedges. You definitely didn't feel shortchanged with this salad. The highlight of our visit though were the cocktails. I started off with some sort of specialty cocktail made from bourbon and huckleberries that they called Patsy's Punch (I think?) was so-so and didn't make much of an impression on me. For my second round, I quickly switched to the Moscow Mule after tasting a friend's. Blackbird's Moscow Mules are served in a cold copper mug with crushed ice, they're not overwhelmingly ginger tasting...the perfect refreshing summer cocktail. Loved it! Too bad they don't have a patio, I could definitely see knocking back a few mugs of these while engaging in some summertime patio drinking.

My only real issue with Blackbird was the service. The two servers who came by our table were polite but service was so extremely slow. The restaurant and the bar were pretty quiet when we were there so I'm not quite sure what the issue was. Everything from ordering a drink, getting our food to even getting our check seemed to involve a very long wait. In fact, we wanted to have a few more more drinks but we got so tired of waiting that we closed out our check and decided to go get a few more cocktails elsewhere in the Grid. One of my friends pointed out that Blackbird would probably do more business if they expanded their Happy Hour food menu and time frame (currently it's only 4-6pm) and try and attract the after work crowd. I think she has a point. If they had a bigger Happy Hour menu (more than just 2 items) and faster service, I could see visiting more often but I don't see driving out there specifically to have dinner. For dinner, there's just a lot more places in Midtown that are easier to get to, in the same price range and offer more refined service. I guess I'll wait awhile and see how Blackbird settles into it's nest before going back.
4 Responses
  1. C Lo Says:

    Thanks for this. I ride by there all the time and keep wondering about it.

  2. kleverasever Says:

    I agree... great food, but the service could be batter. I'm going back in a while to check it out again -hoping for improvements!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    With all do respect, I interviewed with them. Never heard a word. Maybe they should have called me back.

  4. Julie and Steve Terra Says:

    We had the same experience!
    We loved the food but service was so slow. Our waitress also difn't seem to know the menu at all. She couldn't answer our questions about the dishes. Hopefully it's just because they're kind of new.

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