Signup for Blackfish byob chowdown, Sun 30 January (Conshohocken)
As originally proposed in the recent Blackfish thread, mitchh, RocketJSquirrel and I are organizing a chowdown at Blackfish in Conshohocken PA for 6PM on Sunday January 30, 2011.
For those of you not familiar with Blackfish, it has regularly been placed in the top 10 best Philly-area restaurants by Philadelphia Magazine. Chef Charles “Chip” Roman, a protégé of Georges Perrier and Marc Vetri, serves a creative menu of French-inspired American cuisine, emphasizing seafood, but not exclusively. For more details, see the several recent threads or check out the a la carte menu:
For this chowdown, we will be enjoying a 5-course tasting menu prepared especially for us, and the cost will be $84/person (tip is already included). RocketJSquirrel is discussing the menu with Chip and we will post it as soon as it is available (substitutions shouldn't be a problem if someone has an allergy). This will also be a byob dinner, and so we ask that each person who plans to imbibe to please bring a bottle of wine that they enjoy and would like to share with everyone else. Please let the organizers know if you will be bringing a sparkling, white, red or dessert wine (Chip’s dessert’s are always fantastic!). If you’d like to bring more than one bottle, that is fine but certainly not expected.
The back room at Blackfish will hold 22 people, so we will be limiting attendance to that number. We already have >10 signed up, so get on board before it is too late by sending an e-mail to either mitchh or myself at the addresses listed on our profiles. (Please don’t use this thread to express interest, since that violates Chowhound board policy.) Since this is a big event and we will be reserving a large percentage of the restaurant, out of respect for the restaurant, please only sign up if you are pretty sure you can make it, and if you have to cancel, please let us know as soon as possible. We will be reconfirming everyone’s attendance after the holidays. If we have enough interest, we will create a waiting list.
An additional note about the wine, since this is a large event and it will be organized differently than what you may be familiar with when byob’ing in a small group. We would like to keep this low key and more about the food than the wine, so wine newbies and wine snobbies alike are encouraged to attend. I don’t expect anyone to bring a bottle of Chateau Lafite, but if you would like to do so, I’m sure we’ll all be willing to try it! If you don’t drink, that is perfectly fine as well. Beyond that, this is a chance to share some food & wine in a relaxed atmosphere with our fellow Chowhounds. However, given the caliber of the cuisine, we do ask that the wine you bring retail for at least $25. If we have as many as 22 attendees, we will probably break this into two groups for wine sharing purposes (please don’t expect to get 8 ounce pours of each wine, as the goal it to try a little of a lot of different wines).
I’ve attended several tasting dinners at Blackfish, and Chip always puts on an amazing display, so I’m sure this will be an event not to be missed. I realize this won’t be inexpensive, especially in this economy, but I really hope you can join us…
[P.S. For those worried about parking, I’ve always found that it is fairly easy. There is a small public lot about a block away, and if that is full there is usually easy parking on Fayette, if not directly outside the restaurant, then about a block further along the street.].
119 Fayette St
Conshohocken, PA 19428
There isn't a secret mailing list, this was just a one-time event!
Anyone who wants to can organize a chowdown on this board, just put out an announcement. However, Chowhound asks that you then post an e-mail address and organize the details by e-mail, not in a long boring thread on the board.
This was my second chowdown in Philly (and the first I've ever personally organized). The first was the now-infamous (at least to those who attended or saw the mostly now deleted soap opera-like posts in the aftermath) sucking pig chowdown at Amada a few months ago!
Looking forward to someone stepping up and organizing the next one...
This past Sunday evening, 14 eager Chowhounds journeyed out to the 'burbs to met for a wonderful byob dinner at Blackfish.
When we arrived, we were shown to the rear of the restaurant’s two rooms, which as it turned out we had entirely to ourselves (two large tables). This gave us, and our wines, a lot of space, although the rest of the restaurant was clearly packed. I think this was very generous on the part of the restaurant, since I'm sure they could have taken more total reservations for the evening if we had not been there (I arrived at 5:30PM left at 9:45PM, so we had the room to ourselves for the entire evening). Clearly they went out of their way for us.
I've posted before how much I love Chef "Chip" Roman's cooking, and we were not disappointed with the wonderful menu he put together for us (posted above). Although Chip was away on business that evening, the food was ably prepared by XXX (someone help me out here, I’m completely blanking on his name) and Jason, both of whom came out to chat with us at the end of the meal. Interestingly, Jason is the former executive chef at Lacroix, and is working with Chip on his upcoming second restaurant, as well as his own restaurant. As usual, Harold and the other servers did a great job as well (despite our best attempts to impede their movement by standing and chatting in front of the kitchen door before we sat down at our tables).
Each course had two choices, and since I previously had enjoyed several of the featured dishes, I decided to select dishes that were completely new to me (photos below).
We started off with a mushroom soup shooter as an amuse bouche, and as I’ve said before, Blackfish’s soups are always remarkably flavorful. The only issue is whether your tongue is long enough to lick the bottom of the glass!
I particularly enjoyed the deep fried egg wrapped in house-smoked salmon, which is apparently one of Chip’s classic dishes (I’m beginning to realize he loves whole eggs!).
The striped bass had a wonderfully crispy skin and delicious burgundy sauce, which paired very well with an ’09 Brun cru Beaujolais.
The poularde (a fattened, spayed hen) was perfectly cooked in an amazing seamless, skin-wrapped roll that was so flawless, it didn’t seem as if human hands could have formed it (I’m not sure what this technique is called, but it surely harkens back to Chip’s days at Le Bec Fin).
The cheese course is always something that Blackfish does well, simple, elegant, with well-matched flavors, and I heard several comments about how wonderful the membrillo was (atypically made from beets, not quince).
And finally, I couldn’t resist going with Blackfish’s famous beignets, in this case filled with a caramel sauce.
I won’t comment on the many excellent wines that everyone brought (ranging from sparkling, to a magnum of Australian shiraz, and a unusual Heitz “port” for dessert), other than to say I particularly loved the ’06 Mount Eden Santa Cruze Mountains “Estate” Chardonnay, which is a remarkable wine for the price.
Overall, a wonderful, creative, satisfying meal, served at a languid pace that encouraged long conversations over our wines (I suppose some might consider it slow, but to me this is what fine dining should be like), in a casual atmosphere with smooth, unobtrusive service. This is exactly why I love this restaurant!
One of the best chowdown’s I’ve ever attended, and as usual, a great way to meet a diverse, fun group of people who share a common interest in great food. Thank you Blackfish for putting on a great show, and thanks also to my fellow organizer RocketJSquirrel for taking care of all the planning with the restaurant.
Thanks for the great notes and pictures. Our chef for this event was Steven, quite a talented young guy I would say. One thing about Blackfish, Chip has always maintained a lot of depth of talent in the kitchen. It's one of the few places where if you go when the chef is away for some reason, the food is still 100% as good as when he's there. Not many places like that.
I wonder if any of us have pictures of the other courses. Anyone have any?
It's always nice to spend time to enjoy everyone's company and conversation at our leisure.
Looking forward to dining with you again.
I didn't think to take photos of the other dishes, but I do have some from previous dinners that are probably pretty similar to what we had Sunday.
~Yellowtail kingfish, yuzu kosho, radish, cilantro (our dish was smaller, with some different ingredients from the pictured one, but similar)
~Baked chatham bay cod, cauliflower, golden raisins, pink peppercorn
~Beef short ribs, carrots, turnips, beef jus
~Fourme d’ambert (bleu), beet membrillo, elixir (100 year old sherry vinegar)
Our group of 4 eagerly anticipated this evening for weeks! We went back and forth 20 times trying to decide on the "perfect" wines to bring. In the end it was a no-brainer! The food was so exquisite and paired wonderfully with all of the wines our dining companions brought.
Tir_na_nOg has done a fabulous job describing the dishes of the evening. The only dish I did not get to try was the deep fried egg wrapped in the smoked salmon. My husband didn't think it was necessary to save me a bite! He said it was amazing. I guess I need to get back there soon and try it for myself.
Many thanks to our organizers and we look forward to another dinner with the great people we met at Blackfish!
Last update before the big chowdown at Blackfish next Sunday! As you can see from the menu below, it should be a wonderful meal, with options to please everyone (thanks to RocketJSquirrel for working with Chef Chip Roman on this).
Due to some cancelations, we still have 4 seats/22 remaining for this event. But if you are interested, I need to know soon, since the chef needs to special order items for this dinner. Contact me at the address in my profile...
If you have already signed up, and didn't receive my email update yesterday, please contact me ASAP to confirm.
RocketJSquirrel and I dined at Blackfish last night with a group of 9, and Chip was in rare form. The rare (no pun intended) roasted squab with seared foie gras, Jerusalem artichokes and Honshimeji mushrooms was an wonderful dish (picture below). I don't think I've ever seen that much foie gras sitting on one plate before!
Hope you can join us...
BLACKFISH MENU FOR CHOWHOUND GROUP
$70 plus tax and tip
Choices (choose 1 of 2 options for each course):
Smoked salmon, deep fried egg, sour cream
Yellowtail kingfish, yuzu kosho, radish, cilantro
Baked chatham bay cod, cauliflower, golden raisins, pink peppercorn
Striped bass, trumpet royale mushrooms, burgundy jus
Poularde, delicate squash, cippolini onions, sour cherry
Beef short ribs, carrots, turnips, beef jus
Fourme d’ambert (bleu), beet membrillo, elixir (100 year old sherry vinegar)
Handmade Brie, beet membrillo, elixir
Chocolate fondant, malt, gelato, pistachio
Now that the holidays are over, we can turn our attention to our next food feast:
BYOB CHOWDOWN AT BLACKFISH (CONSHOHOCKEN, PA), SUNDAY JANUARY 30TH AT 6PM
RocketJSquirrel is speaking with the chef today about the menu and we should have an update on that shortly. We will be doing a 5-course tasting menu put together just for us for $84 (tip is already included). This event is BYOB, but non-drinkers are also encouraged to attend.
Currently, there are 18 Chowhounds signed up, with space for ~4 more. So if you are interested in attending, please let me know at the e-mail address listed in my profile (please don't reply to this thread to signup, since that violates Chowhound posting rules). For those of you who have already signed up through myself or mitchh, I'll be sending you a confirmatory e-mail in the next day or so.
FInally, in case you missed the news, Philadelphia Magazine just declared Blackfish the #1 restaurant in Philly:
(If I'm not mistaken, that look's like Chip's papparadelle ragout on the cover, one of my favorite dishes).
RocketJSquirrel and I were at Blackfish on Sunday (enjoying the amazing creation pictured below), and I'm happy to report that Chip is already planning our menu. Mitchh has received ~16 expression of interest, so get signed up before it's too late...
[Sweet onion-stuffed crepe with white truffle fondue, and yes, those are indeed copious slices of Italian white truffle--this has to be one of the most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth!]
The $45 4-course "special ingredient" is only available on Tuesdays. I'm also including a 20% tip in the $84 to simplify things, and I don't believe we will be paying corkage. No promises, but I've known Chip to occasionally throw in some extras too.
Everything I've ever had at Blackfish has been worth the price of admission. But you are right, those Tuesday dinners are a particularly good deal.
We debated going the cheaper route, but ultimately decided to go with a larger menu specially created for us to fully appreciate Chip's cooking.