Blackbird & Henry

In the mix of this springs many restaurant openings, Chef Mark Schmidt opened Blackbird & Henry just north of West Campus, offering upscale quality eats in a neighborhood environment. Prior to relocating to Austin, Chef Schmidt was the former owner and executive chef of the much-lauded Café 909 restaurant in Marble Falls. Having been once since it opened, Blackbird & Henry had been very much on my list of places to return. After hearing rave reviews from coworkers reporting back after I had recommended it, I decided it was high time to revisit the restaurant – this time during the newly added lunch service.

Salmon Ceviche - $12

Salmon Ceviche – $12

We started with a promising sounding salmon ceviche marinated with charred tomatoes and jalapenos off the day’s specials menu. Though I expected a little more kick from the jalapenos, the tomatoes added an unexpected depth to the dish. A tad more lime wouldn’t have hurt, but overall it was a solid start to our meal. Moving on to the main event, we opted for the Smoked Trout Salad and the Blackbird Burger.

Smoked Trout Salad - $11

Smoked Trout Salad – $11

The combination of smoked trout and hardboiled duck egg with crispy green beans and endive created a dish that was both refreshing and hearty. The whole grain mustard dressing gave it that perfect tangy kick which added a nice depth to the dish.

Blackbird Burger - $10

Blackbird Burger – $10

The Blackbird Burger featured a spicy pan-fried chickpea patty topped with sautéed mushrooms and melted aged cheddar. Generally, I toss my bun aside when eating a veggie burger so I can actually taste the patty, which is how I started with this version. About halfway through I tried it with the bun layered with ale mustard only to find I had been seriously missing out. Not only did the burger patty have plenty of flavor to stand up to the bread, the addition of the ale mustard sauce took it to a whole new level. I imagine the beef burger and mustard combo is even better. My only small complaint was the chickpea patty was slightly dry, but it was still an overall winning dish.

Café 909 Pistachio Parfait - $7

Café 909 Pistachio Parfait – $7

I’m not usually in dire need of dessert at the close of a meal, especially at lunch, but I found myself easily convinced to share the Café 909 Pistachio Parfait at the end of our meal. Though plenty full, I had a hard time putting down my spoon once I started in on the frozen dessert. Bathing suit season be damned, it was worth every last delicious bite.

Thanks to ample parking in the garage behind the restaurant and quick service, Blackbird & Henry makes for an ideal spot to enjoy a working lunch. Equally as good, if not better, is the restaurant’s dinner service. On my inaugural visit to the restaurant, I was hooked on boldly flavored dishes such as a curried prawn kedgeree alongside more subtle plates of salty, crispy fish and chips.

Curried Prawn Kedgeree

Curried Prawn Kedgeree

Housed in the former Egg & I spot on Guadalupe, Blackbird & Henry’s well-executed redesign leaves little reminder of the space’s former tenant. With large open windows and walls lined with white subway tiles, Blackbird & Henry’s space is modern yet warm. Like the restaurant’s interior, Blackbird & Henry’s the well-executed food is just the right casual elegance for the neighborhood spot it hopes to be.

Visit Blackbird & Henry Tuesday through Sunday 11am to 10pm. $$-$$$. Closed Monday. 3016 Guadalupe Street, Austin, Texas 78705. (512) 394-5264. http://www.blackbirdandhenry.com

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