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Bites Nearby: BlackFinn Offers Comfort, Sophistication in New Menu

BlackFinn American Saloon offers pub fare, but there is much more to its menu than burgers. It's worth delving into.

One restaurant in Downtown Naperville that I’ve thought more of as a bar and not a restaurant is .

I’ve been to the restaurant a few times, to meet friends for drinks and enjoy some appetizers, but it hasn’t gone beyond that. And, that is going to change. (You can be sure I will be suggesting lunch meetings with my boss at this location.)

The restaurant switched up its menu earlier this year, adding a sense of sophistication to its offerings. BlackFinn offered members of the media a chance to dine on some of its many menu items. Everything was impeccable and tasted wonderful. The only thing missing was a glass of wine; no fault of the folks at BlackFinn, I was working. Next time it will be a pleasant addition.

Ambience

The first floor is where the bar, or pub, is located. This is a great spot for after work drinks and meeting up with friends for some pub grub.

If you are looking for a more sophisticated and cozy dining experience, maybe a date or dinner with the girls, upstairs the deep, dark wood continues, with comfortable tables and booths. I was unaware this second floor even existed. I knew the stairs were there, but what was upstairs was a mystery until this week. The best seat I think is located near the windows overlooking Jefferson Avenue and I expect this winter with twinkling lights and snow on the ground, it would be a perfect spot.

The Food

Starters

We started first with the Margherita Flatbread ($9.99), very simple, but also a great starter that doesn’t feel naughty. A Mediterranean lavosh is covered in garlic butter, Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. It’s a great way to have a bite before the main course and not totally fill up and feel heavy, as one might with anything fried. Slices are a nice size and it is easily shared.

The flatbread didn’t last and then they brought in more starters including the Ying-Yang Shrimp ($10.99), the BlackFinn Crab Tower ($14.99) and the Blackened Brie ($7.99).

I could have happily eaten every one of the starters and been fine and never even moved on in the menu. I’m happy I didn’t stop.

The Ying-Yang Shrimp is a mix of sweet and spicy. The shrimp are fried crispy and then tossed in a sauce that has some kick to it. For some this may be too sweet, but I found the sauce’s bite to help balance the sweet.

The BlackFinn Crab Tower was really beautiful to look at, but it’s even more fun to destroy. And, you have to take the tower down to eat it. The tower has chilled jumbo crab salad, a coconut curry rice cake, wakame, tobiko, miso vinaigrette. Let’s just say it is really good. And, I’m not much of a seafood eater. The coconut curry gave this a bit of sweetness but all the flavors blended together creating a perfect balance.

The last of the starters was the Blackened Brie. I LOVE cheese, so this was not hard to eat and truly enjoy. I was a little unsure about the Brie being blackened, but it was served with ciabatta toast, sliced apples and an apple cranberry chutney. Mixing all three together on the toast was the perfect package of cheesy goodness. The Brie was smooth and oh so comforting.

I was enjoying food bliss when the main courses arrived.

Main Courses

Several of the items are served on both the lunch and dinner menu, one only appears on the dinner menu. We enjoyed Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf ($14.99), Chicken and Broccoli Tortellini ($15.99) and the Queen City Chicken ($14.99) – all on the lunch and dinner menu. In addition we also dined on the Hong Kong Style Chilean Sea Bass ($24.99), found on the dinner menu.

If my mother had cooked her meatloaf with bacon wrapped lovingly around it, as they did at BlackFinn, I may have actually eaten it and enjoyed it. I grew up dreading dinners of meatloaf. No more. The Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf was great comfort food and as we head into fall, I think it is the perfect meal for a chilly day. It comes with sweet potato mash, sautéed green beans and a honey chipotle ketchup for dipping. Again, this is a meal that will leave you feeling sated without feeling like you are going to explode. The sweet potatoes and green beans were excellent. The chipotle sauce gives a kick and you can choose how much you want to use. I really enjoyed this and look forward to trying it again. And, you can’t go wrong with bacon.

The Chicken and Broccoli Tortellini was good. They incorporate cheese tortellini with steamed broccoli, roasted tomatoes, Parmesan sauce and sautéed chicken. All of the main courser served were delicious, but without feeling heavy or like you had to spend a week at the gym to work them off. They seemed on the healthier side while being delicious. The tortellini was a standard pasta and was good. It didn’t knock my socks off, maybe because I was more intrigued with the meatloaf and Queen City Chicken.

After tasting it, I wanted more of the Queen City Chicken. I would have gladly taken a doggy bag home with me. The chicken was bacon-crusted and stuffed with sweet sausage, served with the sweet potato mash and fresh asparagus. Loved it. Was it the bacon? Or, the sweet sausage? I’m not sure, but I do know I am going back and ordering this again. Also, they cooked the asparagus perfectly. While we had the naughty bits of pork in this meal, the healthy veggies help counteract what fat there may be. But, even so, this meal was not heavy. I’ve never been a huge chicken fan and rarely order it at a restaurant. This is my exception. 

On to the Hong Kong Style Chilean Sea Bass. Again, I’m not a huge fish eater, but this was melt in your mouth good. The sea bass is served with sautéed spinach and a coconut curry rice cake. There is some soy sauce in their which adds some saltiness. The coconut curry rice cake mixed with the spinach helped to again balance the sweet with the bitter. And, the sea bass was really enjoyable. If you like fish, then you should try this. I also enjoyed the Asian fusion in the food, which was a refreshing change from standard restaurant fare.

Dessert

Believe it or not there was some room left for the sweets. We enjoyed three fabulous desserts including an Individual Key Lime Pie ($6.99), the BlackFinn Hot Chocolate ($6.99) and a Fruit Crisp made with peaches ($6.99).

Key lime pie is definitely tart and more than my palate can take in too large a quantity. The individual pie is a nice size, though you can definitely share it. I enjoyed the raspberry sauce that it is served with, which seemed to help tone down the key lime tartness.

Fruit crisp is definitely a great comforting dessert. Since peaches are still in season, though on their way out, we were able to enjoy it with peaches. It was served warm (not blazing hot) and with ice cream. Delish. They make this to order so be sure to allow time for the order.

Last but in no way least is the BlackFinn Hot Chocolate. They make something similar to a molten chocolate cake, but lacking the eggs, so it is nice and mushy. There is chocolate, a peanut butter soufflé served warm, vanilla ice cream and homemade whipped cream, all lumped into a large coffee mug. It was incredible. This is where the calories come in, but for a splurge it is so worth it. Share it with friends. Dig you spoon in and enjoy!

BlackFinn American Saloon is located at 16 W. Jefferson Ave. Visit the restaurant online at www.BlackFinnChicago.com.

 

 

 

 

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