Blackbird

Blackbird is in a great location, alongside the renovated and refashioned Claisebrook where it pools into a small lake surrounded on one side by rolling lawns and the other apartments, walking paths, and a couple of restaurants. We had been at Queens Garden at a rehearsal for our daughter’s fast approaching wedding and afterwards, we caught the Yellow Cat bus, hopped off at Haig Park and strolled along the brook, past the Royal, through the underpass and we were there, at Blackbird.

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There are a number of tables and chairs on the terrace outside the restaurant and, on a balmy evening, was the perfect spot to sit – drinking and dining while watching the joggers, dog walkers, pram pushers wander by, and the ducks and swans swimming and diving in the lake – oh and up above on the road the poor commuters stuck in traffic along Lord Street, vainly trying to get home.

Our two waiters for the evening both distinguished themselves with their friendliness, welcoming and enthusiastic attitude, and overall professionalism. The restaurant can be rightly proud of them.

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We started with a thirst quenching glass of rosé from Tuscany – pale salmon in colour, a little spice on the nose, good acid, and a flinty dry finish. Thus refreshed, along with a glass of water (yes, we do drink that as well!), we were able to turn our attention to the menu.

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The food at Blackbird seems geared towards Mediterranean cuisine, south of France, Italy and eastern Spain. The summer menu is divided into Share Plates – Lyonnaise salad, pommes frites, baby calamari with aioli, pork terrine – Mains, including smoked chicken salad, gnocchi, veal and fish – Sweets and finally Cheese.

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Before ordering we were surprised by the offer of a small tapas plate – apparently the restaurant have introduced free tapas between 5 and 6pm each day – great if you are just dropping by for a drink on the way home.

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Two small skewers of tender, juicy lamb cubes, along with a roasted cherry tomato were delivered and enjoyed; then we got down to ordering. We were only looking for something light so chose two of the small share plates – seared scallops, and piperade of paprika and capsicum.

Scallops

Five lightly seared scallops were dotted across the plate, along with twirls of cured salmon – marinated, according to the menu, in the aperitif Lillet – and dashes of horseradish cream with lemon flavoured crumbs scattered across. The scallops were moist and tender, only very lightly cooked, the salmon had some characteristic citrus notes from the curing liqueur, while the creamy, mild flavours of the horseradish were given a complementary boost from the lemon.

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This was a well turned out, light dish – just what we were after, and showed a dab hand in the kitchen.

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The piperade – a traditional Basque dish to celebrate the red, green and white colours of their flag – came in a cast iron bowl – sautéed green and red peppers, tomatoes, onions and paprika, dotted with cubes of goats cheese and topped with a lightly baked egg and basil leaves. A few slices of crusty bread completed the dish.

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Beautiful rich flavours, sweetness from tomatoes and onions, a mild but zesty lift from the red peppers and paprika, saltiness from the cheese, egg yolk oozing over the vegetables, aniseed and zing from the scented basil – all the flavours and aromas of the Mediterranean in one dish. It was, in a word, lovely.

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The small wine list consists mostly of wines from the lands around the Mediterranean, France and Italy predominantly, but with a couple of locals and it was one of these we chose – Si Vintners 2013 Cabernet Malbec Petit Verdot blend. I had this recently at another spot and knew what to expect – aromas of black berries and plums, with hints of violets, full bodied and with plums, black cherries, chocolate and dusty tannins on the palate. It was smooth with a good, long finish; excellent drinking.

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Blackbird is a cosy little spot – inside it is low-lit and comfortable; outside it is a Perth waterside expression of a French or Italian sidewalk café – brilliant location, enthusiastic and welcoming waiters, well cooked and presented food at reasonable prices and a small list but one filled with wines of quality. We certainly recommend it – and that you can drop in for just a drink (and free tapas) is an added attraction.

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