Tollcross has always had something of a no-man’s land air about it when it comes to eating and drinking spots . Beyond the old-school pubs, (and with the exception of The Apartment & Henricks), lately there haven’t been any real go-to places. Until now.
Landing in the middle of Leven Street is The Blackbird, the latest project from Martin & Colin of Hamilton’s & Treacle fame. The interior gives the eye plenty to catch upon, including original exposed stonework, plaster and fireplaces, bright fabrics, prints and specially-commissioned artwork. The drinks list, with the tempting Alice-referencing ‘Drink Me’ on the front reveals an accomplished compendium of cocktails, which cover everything from the girly sweet, to serious bitters and everything in between.
Lou and I started with ‘Crispy fishcake’ (£4.95) and ‘Wild mushrooms on sourdough’ (£5.95) respectively. The fishcake – singular yet sizeable – was excellent with a crisp golden crumb and good balance between fish and potato filler. A hint of fragrant Thai-style seasoning and coriander kept the bites light, and the addition of tangerine perked up the sometimes sledge-hammer-esque qualities of the accompanying sweet chili jam. The funghi plate wasn’t quite so perfect, but very nearly so. The selection of wild mushrooms was generous, including skinny enoki and chunky oysters, however they could have taken much more of the promised Tallegio and Dijon, and the toast deserved to be much crunchier.
On to mains, and my appetite was ready for ‘Charred Auchterarder venison steak’ (£13.95), the meat cooked pink and the plate-fellows of sweet pumpkin mash, and moreish haggis fritters (which Louise suggested would make for amazing late night bar snacks, hint, hint!) convinces that the food quality is more ‘bistro’ than ‘boozer’. My seafood-loving pal chose the ‘Grilled salmon with chorizo and butterbean stew’ (£12.95), which with the addition of sweet bright broad beans was presented even better than its menu billing, and sported a fine lemony butter sauce.
Despite being thus-far extremely well fed, we were soon tempted down the rabbit-hole of the dessert menu. Lou took on the surprisingly non-icky warm chocolate and peanut butter brownie (£4.95) and I chose homely pear and blackberry crumble which came with the comfort blanket of vanilla custard.
With an emphasis on local and Scottish ingredients, good flavours and skilled presentation, The Blackbird will soon have a flock of fans.
37-39 Leven Street