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Daily Dining News: Blackbird Excellent, Usually

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Blackbird received a less than glowing review in the Sac News & Review earlier this month. I agreed with much of what they said, given that their generally good food was tempered with their often lackluster service. But Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson's visits have given him a different impression.

Blackbird could someday materialize as one of Sacramento's most inventive, dynamic and entertaining dining experiences.

The vision is there. So is the talent.

But months after opening in a smart and sophisticated loftlike space downtown, Blackbird and its seafood-centric cuisine are still working out the wrinkles, putting the right people in the proper posts, getting a handle on bouts with inconsistency and, best of all, still aspiring to greatness.

The greatness is there, to be sure, including a whole roasted trout that was both crispy and tender, peppered with subtle seasonings and paired with steamed clams, pesto and cool-looking, elongated little things called sea beans; a simple yet bold salad with Maine lobster, burrata and beautiful, extra-large wedges of heirloom tomatoes; a perfectly cooked and stylishly presented striped bass with the skin intact (crispy and full of flavor); a fantastic pork belly dish with peaches and prawns (with the heads intact); blackened catfish that awakened the palate with all the right spicy flavor notes; a rich, smoky clam chowder; and best of all, a daring and rather amazing $13 chilled corn soup with cherry tomatoes and tender crab meat garnished with, yes, a scoop of housemade avocado gelato.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

More News:

With a focus on seafood, is Blackbird ready to shine? - I have been eating quite an array of seafood lately at a several places in and around Sacramento, along with a few out of town joints. Squid, octopus, rock cod, hamachi, arctic char cooked, arctic char raw (topped with potato chips and fish eggs), tilapia on tacos, blackened catfish, whole roasted trout, striped bass, salmon teriyaki, oysters, clams mussels, lobster, crab. The list goes on. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Combination wine tasting room and kitchen store coming to Midtown near 20th and J streets - The country’s oldest port-producing vineyard will set up shop in Midtown by the end of the year, combining wine and port tasting with a kitchen store. Called Ficklin Wilcox, the store is owned by Ficklin Vineyards, which was established in Madera, Calif., in 1946. Brandon Darnell in Sac Press.

Pour me another. Pour House, Sacramento - Walking into the bar, I was immediately drawn to their beer.  They have a decent amount of taps, but the kicker to this joint is the individual tables that allow you to pour your own draught (from their selected features), and pay by the ounce (32 cents, to be exact). This can be dangerous if you're on a date, but I do think it's absolutely ideal for groups of six who want to relax in a circular booth, and take in the atmosphere...and because I am a gin woman through and through, I would steer clear of the $2 Jameson shots you can dispense at each table as well, but to each his own.  Speaking of gin, they do carry Oxley, one of my personal favorites, so I give them a nod for their discerning taste. Claire Ceklovsky on Girls on Food.

Before you sleep, Mangia - Now that restaurateurs Mark Scribner and Dave Virga have added Mangia to their Paesanos family of restaurants, there's very little of the day when they're not feeding Sacramento.
The new restaurant, located next to Paesanos at 1806 Capitol Ave., opens as early as 7 a.m. most days. Their Uncle Vito's restaurants in midtown and Davis close as late as 2 a.m. on several nights. Dana Scarpulla, who heads up operations for the Paesanos chain, said Mangia continues to serve Java City coffee as an homage to the local roaster that operated at the site for 27 years. Cathie Anderson in the Sac Bee.

Mondavi Institute For Wine And Food Science And Nugget Market - Nugget Markets and UCD’s Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science partnering up to celebrate the world of great food and wine. The Best of the Barrel fundraiser takes place at the Robert Mondavi Institute's Good Life Garden next Friday. Clare Hasler-Lewis is with the RMI and Danielle DeBow and Steve Graham are with Nugget Markets. On KFBK.

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