By Gerry Barker
The wait is over. Jupiter's newest, most anticipated restaurant -- Blackbird Modern Asian -- had its official opening Thursday, Oct. 13. Located at 1511 N. Old Dixie Highway, we joined the crowd of first-timers for a media sneak peek. And if you are wondering if it was worth the wait -- for us, it exceeded all expectations.
First, about the name. In Japanese culture, the blackbird is a symbol of good fortune. And there is plenty of goodness to be found for anyone who loves creatively-prepared Asian cuisine in an upscale setting.
The owners say "no design details" have been overlooked, and that's evident from the moment you step inside. The main dining room, with its 12-foot Buddha bathed in changing colors, is stunning. Above that two-story space, lights resembling flying birds convey the elegance of Chihuly glass. It's dark, inviting and collectively, creates a feeling of Zen.
Now, let's talk food and drink.
The first decision was what to choose from their list of specialty cocktails, and it was tough. Our waitperson, Gianna (who was excellent), nudged Pam toward the Blackbird martini ($15), a combination of Skyy vodka, Amaro Lucano, chai, cold brew, vanilla cream and activated charcoal, topped with a chocolate fortune cookie. It was, as Pam reported, "heavenly." I finally landed on the Pho King Good ($16), -- Tito's vodka, KeKe Key Lime liqueur, egg white, pho syrup, thai basil, lemon and pineapple. It was both frothy and refreshing.
For the media preview, we were given a fixed menu that allowed us to sample a range of dishes created by noted Executive Chef Tim Nickey. Since we aren't beef-eaters, we got to substitute for the first course -- Short Rib and Bone Marrow Dumplings -- and got instead the Spicy Pork Wontons, steamed in a sichuan chili sauce ($13). Served in a bowl with cilantro, they were indeed spicy, but delicious. We were off to a good start.
Next came the Hamachi Crispy Rice ($19) -- four small rice cakes that featured wasabi mayo and a slice of jalapeno on top, followed by Sweet and Sour Pork ($21), consisting of pork belly, dragon fruit, pineapple and crispy shallots. We enjoyed both, and the latter was particularly flavorful.
The main event turned out to be the Garlic King Crab Noodles ($48) -- lo main noodles, lump crab, garlic and xo sauce. It was absolute perfection, each bite more satisfying than the last. We had to get a "to go" box so as not to waste any of it.
Of course, we couldn't leave without dessert, which in our case, was the Yuzu Key Lime ($12), that arrived in a bowl of dry ice. It ended our meal on a definite theatrical high note. Crafted by Pastry chef Denise Elrod, it combined cinnamon graham cracker crumble, yuzu key lime custard, vanilla bean and white chocolate ganache whip, and was, in a word, amazing.
Afterwards, we went on a self-guided tour. Upstairs includes its own large bar area overlooking the street. Downstairs there's another bar as well as the keyhole, a separate dining room. Blackbird also boasts a covered outdoor patio as well. Also to note: Blackbird has Happy Hour everyday, 4-6 pm, featuring half-off cocktails, wine and beer as well as a bar food menu.
As you might expect, opening night was loud, as photographers captured the festivities. Judging from the packed house, they had a lot to celebrate.
Blackbird Modern Asian
1511 N Old Dixie Hwy,
Jupiter, FL 33469
Sunday - Thursday 4:00PM - 12:00AM
Friday & Saturday 4:00PM - 2:00AM
Exploring what to see and do in North Palm Beach and the South Florida area. Your hosts are Pam and Gerry Barker.
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