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Apr 19, 2008 11:20 AM

Blackbird or Spring?

I have reservations for both..which one is worth going to visit? We have one pescetarian and one vegetarian. Thanks everyone! I am stressing!

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  1. With that combination, Spring. Otherwise, Blackbird.

    Edit: You know what, I'd say Blackbird anyway. Both are only going to have one vegetarian entree, but Blackbird has a few seafood mains and apps, so the pescetarian won't be too sad.

    And I think Kahan's food is better than McClain's.

    1. > which one is worth going to visit?

      Both are.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        I only get one visit.....for a birthday..

        1. re: chadradchad

          What I meant is, both are excellent choices. Spring specializes in seafood, and Shawn McClain's deft hand with vegetables (he owns the almost-all-vegetarian Green Zebra, too) is evident at all three of his restaurants. However, Paul Kahan's cuisine at Blackbird is outstanding as well, even though he doesn't specialize in seafood or vegetarian cuisine there. I think either restaurant is an excellent choice that you're likely to enjoy, so don't agonize too much.

          When in doubt, look at the sample menus on both websites ( and ) and pick the one whose menu sounds more appealing.

      2. I'm a big fan of Spring. The menu seems geared more towards your crowd than Blackbird (a lot of fish and vegetable dishes). Although I enjoyed the food at Blackbird, our service was horrendous. I'm sure our experience was unusual, but it's hard for me to recommend a restaurant when my experience consisted of our waitress being non-existent and the waiter that we complained to had the response "It's not my tip!" and walked away. That's two terrible servers in one restaurant. Not a good ratio for my liking. Also it's very loud... it is a lot easier to converse with friends at Spring.

        Again, I know my experience at Blackbird was unusual, but it's worth sharing.

        1. They are both an excellent choice, you won't be disappointed either way.

          However I will say that I have been to Blackbird on several occasions, where I was only at Spring once and never felt the urge to go back.

          5 Replies
          1. re: blondie60614

            Ditto to Blondie60614 and gleam. I have never gotten it about Spring or Green Zebra (haven't bothered with Custom House). IMHO, the food was perfectly acceptable, but nothing special. I guess I just don't get it about McClain's food. Nothing wrong with it, but I don't expect to go back.

            Not true of Blackbird or Avec.

            1. re: chicgail

              This is making it hard for me!!!!!! The dishes at Spring look more exciting. Which is easier to get to?

              1. re: chadradchad

                If the dishes on the menu at Spring are more appealing to you, then that's I recommend you go. In planning a dinner I had this past week, I chose Custom House (like Spring, also owned by Shawn McClain, but specializing in meats) for that exact reason, things on the menu that just sounded divine. And as it turned out, it was absolutely wonderful; I just loved the things I ate there, particularly the same things I had been drooling over on their website menu.

                As far as ease of getting to, it depends on where you're coming from. Blackbird is on Randolph Street a few blocks west of the river and the Loop. Spring is in Wicker Park, about 3 miles northwest of the Loop. Blackbird is 2-3 blocks from the Clinton stop on the CTA Green and Pink Lines, Spring is a block from the Damen stop on the Blue Line. If you're visiting from out of town and staying in the hotel neighborhoods (Loop, River North, Michigan Avenue, Gold Coast) you're probably going to take a cab, and it's a 5-10 minute cab ride from just about any of them, so geography probably isn't a big factor in deciding between the two.

                1. re: chadradchad

                  Not to confuse you further, but I personally would say Spring over Blackbird. I have had several excellent meals at Spring, and I find the menu filled with things that appeal to me. Blackbird, while an excellent restaurant, doesn't have a menu that excites me as much.