The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar opened its doors in October 2013 and is the newest of the Donnelly Group‘s list of public houses and gastropubs around the Lower Mainland. They are located in the space formerly occupied by The Keg Caesars on Dunsmuir (yes, the one right below Brandi’s). The space has undergone some significant renovations, as the upstairs bar was even designed to look like the bar from Stephen King’s thriller The Shining.
Bringing on internationally acclaimed and award-winning barman Jay Jones to serve as the Executive Bartender, you can be sure that Donnelly Group is really committed to making their mark on the city.
With 8,800 square feet and 2 storeys to work with, they have managed to outfit the space with 200 seats, a scotch bar (left), oyster bar, and an assortment of bar games. They also operate a barbershop next door (right), just in case you know, you need a haircut before or after your meal.
I had been to The Blackbird before for drinks, but I had never tried their food before. So I was thrilled when I got invited to a small media lunch to sample their new spring menu.
We were greeted with a Vintner’s Brunch cocktail (Victoria Oaken gin, Luxardo Cherry Morlaco Sangue, Charles & Charles Cabernet Sauvignon, Scrappy’s Cardamom bitters, lemon zest) (above).
We sampled a trio of dressed up oysters including the Reed Island Oysters with bacon and sherry vinegar mignonette, Royal Miyagi Oysters with wasabi horseradish cocktail sauce, and Sawmill Bay Oysters with cucumber and kombu. I really enjoyed the bacon and sherry mignonette. This is the first time that I’ve seen bacon paired with oysters and it worked surprisingly well.
Tempura Albacore tuna salad with avocado mousse, nori, yuzu, cucumber, cilantro and sesame. I’ve had Albacore tuna plenty of times before but this is the first time that I’ve had it as tempura. The outer crust was light and crunchy, not too thick, while the inside was still tender and rare. I really enjoyed this dish, as it balanced good textures with the right amount of flavour and acidity.
Duck Confit salad with Fraser Valley beets, aged balsamic and arugula. This dish was a crowd pleaser. The duck was very juicy and still warm, and it was a nice savoury touch on a fairly basic salad.
Left: For dessert, we enjoyed a frozen lemon bar with Italian meringue, local rhubarb and pistachios. This is a light and refreshing dessert that’s perfect for the warmer months.; Right: The dessert cocktail was called One to Grow On, which was a Golden Grahams infused Absolut Elyx vodka, egg white, egg yolk, Pale Ale, Averna Amaro, and simple syrup served in a mini milk bottle with striped paper straw. Some people found this cocktail to be a bit strong, but I thought it was fine.
All in all, I really enjoyed this lunch and was glad to have been a part of it. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the food here. I had known this to be a good spot for drinks, but it had never occurred to me that they might have decent food as well. Suffice it to say, I’ll be back here again soon for a workday lunch.
Disclaimer: This meal was complimentary, but all views and thoughts expressed are my own and I was not paid for this post.