I haven’t been to Blackbird Cafe in years and when we strolled in recently, the place seemed a lot brighter than ever before (thanks to more neon lights mostly). In fact, the whole place has been given a bit of a face lift to make it more funky and youthful. The open layout makes the most of its harbourside location and views, with beats playing in the background to get a vibe going on a Friday night.
We were seated outside on the balcony and while it was nice to admire the view while we waited for our dishes, the service was quite patchy as it was a challenge to get the wait staff’s attention at times. We started with a Blackbird Tasting Plate to kick off the meal and it featured some salt and pepper calamari, fresh oysters with a salsa topping, meatballs with a tomato sauce and some bread with olive oil. The bread was fairly disappointing as the 4th appetiser on the plate, since it seemed like just filler, while the other 3 entrees on the plate were pretty standard fare and nothing remarkable.
Blackbird Tasting Plate, $22.90
For mains, we tried the recommended Crispy Pork Belly which had been double roasted and paired with seared scallops, truffle butter mash, an apple mousse finished with cider reduction. All the elements on the plate sounded delicious, but apart from the seared scallops, the execution of the rest of the dish didn’t quite live up to our expectations. The Pork Belly certainly had a crispy layer of crackling, but when the meat cooled a bit, it was quite tough to eat. The truffle butter mash also wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, though it was quite creamy.
Crispy Pork Belly, $33.90
The Wagyu Tajima Rump done Kobe style was the tastier main of the night – the meat was done medium rare, making it quite tender, although there wasn’t much of the melt in your mouth flavour you’d expect from a marble score of 9+. Again, the rump was complemented by a truffle mash and came with a sweet, tangy sauce.
Wagyu Tajima Rump, $44.90
We finished up the meal with another tasting plate, this time from the dessert menu. The 4 desserts which were selected for the tasting plate for the night were the vaguely exotic tasting Baked White Chocolate Cheese Cake served with poached pineapple and coconut gelato, a Raspberry and Almond Tart with a crumbly frangipane filling served with raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream, a Chocolate Brownie served with Bailey’s ice cream and chocolate sauce and finally, a generous slice of Tiramisu. The dessert tasting plate was much larger than we had expected, with practically full size versions of all the desserts, rather than miniature versions like we were thinking, so best to share this between a larger group.
Dessert Tasting Plate, $29
All in all, Blackbird Cafe’s portion sizes are on the generous side, but they do command pretty steep prices due to their waterfront location at Darling Harbour. The execution of the dishes here is also fairly average, even though they have quite an extensive menu of dishes for diners to choose from.
Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of Blackbird Cafe
Balcony Level, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9283 7385
It used to be my tradition to celebrate my birthday at Blackbird every year – I managed to celebrate it there 3 times in a row! The latest time I did go there, the food was very below average hence the reason why I have not returned since. The Wagyu looks good, shame about the tasting plate.
It can be so hard to find a good restaurant in Darling Harbour – so often, they’re geared towards tourists and have the price tags to match! I think I’d try the dessert plate here though…
Good casual dining in Darling Harbour not priced for tourists: Baia’s 3 course $30 dinner special has never disappointed me, or for a quick semi-fast-food bite, the value-for-money souvlaki at pontoon ($10 or $12, as I recall) is a good bite to grab. On the other side of Darling Harbour? The gyro place in the food court at Harbourside (on the Pyrmont side of the harbour) is more generous with the gyro meat than many in the CBD, and Festival Cafe on the upper floor of Harbourside has nice, simple daily specials and a lovely view across Cockle Bay (the innermost part of Darling Harbour) back toward the city if you want to relax in the air con for a while. Plus, it gets bonus points for the name that refers back to the original name of Harbourside , the Festival Marketplace. (Side note: Blackbird may still give discounts if you have the international hostel association card as well.)
The above aren’t the only affordable-and-worth-it dining options in Darling Harbour for those who are not on an expense account, but they’re 4 of my go-to places because of their consistency and value.