March 2, 2016

Weekend brunch at Blackbird: a retired couple lingers over a pot of herbal tea, and a hipster in flannel at the next table tucks into a tofu scramble.  A pair of well-dressed women sip mimosas and pick at French toast, while hungover college students devour breakfast burritos and hash browns.  A hubbub of conversation melds with the dance music on the sound system.  Moose antlers and ornately framed mirrors adorn the walls, a disco ball spins behind the bar, and goldfish swim around an aquarium fashioned from a vintage television.  Blackbird bills itself as a "cozy-casual corner spot", and at brunch, that's exactly what it is.

Since reservations aren't taken for brunch, be prepared for a bit of a wait if you arrive between 10:30 and 1:00.  Use that time to peruse the menu: you can order up a classic steak with eggs, or branch out to oxtail hash.  There are south of the border options--huevos rancheros, a breakfast burrito--and Scandinavian favorites like Swedish pancakes and eggs scrambled with smoked salmon.  Most of the menu is vegetarian or can be adapted to be meatless, and there are gluten-free substitutions available by request.

If your entree doesn't include them, a side order of hash browns is a must.  They're cooked with clarified butter, a crispy, thin layer with just enough grease.  However, the modest sprinkling of cheddar on the cheesy hash browns doesn't merit the surcharge--stick with the regular version.

Fritta, Blackbird Cafe

If you limit yourself to a few mix-ins, the build-your-own frittata is the best deal on the menu.  Ingredient options include quality meats like smoked salmon and chorizo, several types of cheese, and an assortment of vegetables.  My dining companion opted for sausage, mushrooms, and chevre, and was treated to a delightfully fluffy frittata sized big enough to split.  Like most of the entrees, the frittata is served with thick slabs of Patisserie 46 toast.  Crisp and buttery on the outside, lofty on the inside, the toast was unexpected highlight of the meal.

Norske Scrambler, Blackbird Cafe

The Norske scrambler is a combination plate, generous flakes of house-smoked salmon scrambled with eggs and served with sides of hash browns and toast.  A dollop of creme fraiche and a mound of fresh dill neatly ties the dish together.  The eggs and hash browns are perfectly cooked, but again, the toast steals the show.

Blackbird also serves a weekday breakfast featuring many of the items from weekend brunch (including the Norske scrambler and a couple frittatas); a weekday lunch with sandwiches and noodle bowls; happy hour specials; and a full dinner menu.  But I'm planning to stick to brunch--I need my toast.

3800 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
(612) 823-4790

Blackbird Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato