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From fowl to shepherd’s pie, Blackbird Gastropub is tops



The Norman of my youth was a lawless wasteland, where killers roamed free and a sickening plague known as “Sooner magic” oozed from the scorched earth, pulling the few good men left into the crimson depths below.

Also, my uncle’s house was there, so that was nice.

There really wasn’t a Norman of my youth, because there was no reason for my kind (OSU grads and their spawn) to visit enemy territory.

Still, the city has changed considerably from that imaginary scenario a few paragraphs back. There are sidewalks now, and buildings. The people breathe air, and so do the dogs. The fashion police aren’t hunting down visitors one by one, giving them tattoos of the Sooner Schooner.

They even have restaurants like Blackbird Gastropub, 575 S. University Blvd., Suite 110.

Despite the proximity to the university, Blackbird feels like it is a million miles away from a college campus. The atmosphere is light and cool, minimalist without being Spartan. It’s the sort of spot that is equally comfortable for business lunches, dates or bros just bro-ing on each other after a hard night of bro-ing out on the town.

An absolute essential at Blackbird is the pot roast, which can be had in a variety of ways: nachos ($12), a platter ($17) or, as we tried, sliders (three for $10).

Ciabatta rolls are topped with tender, flavorful pot roast with a jus-infused bottom bun. Truffled mashed potatoes and a thin, fried ring of onion sit atop the beef. Holiday meals wish they tasted as good as this meal-turned-appetizer. There’s only one problem, though. If there are more than three of you (which occurs on occasion), someone might have to make the ultimate sacrifice ... and share.

Still, there’s plenty more good food on the menu. The wild mushroom fontina burger ($10 with fries) is a belly-filler of beefy proportions, especially with the addition of sautéed mushrooms, which brings both a different texture and new dimension to the umami of the patty. One of my friends (local artist, Gazette cartoonist, freelance writer and bon vivant Jack Fowler) refused to try even a bite of it because he won’t eat mushrooms.

Apple galette (Mark Hancock)
  • Mark Hancock
  • Apple galette

Jacky, someday those mushrooms will eat you. You ought to prepay the favor.

For a truly hearty dish, the classic shepherd’s pie ($10) is one of the best. The base is a mix of ground beef seasoned with rosemary and thyme and mixed with diced vegetables. This also is topped with black truffle oil mashed potatoes before the whole mess goes in the oven, baking and fusing together to form the Voltron of traditional Irish cooking.

Jack also wouldn’t eat this. Jack is a very picky eater. C’mon, Jack; get it together.

One thing we could all agree to eat was the duck breast with fig and port wine reduction ($18).

Fact: Ducks are nature’s tiny, feathered hobos. They like to ride on trains and eat beans from a can and will bite if you tease them with bread. Therefore, it is our duty to eat the delicious hobo meat off of ducks — because it is still technically illegal to eat humans.

This dish is 5 gorgeous ounces of duck breast cooked to your liking (I recommend medium-rare) and served with a thick, jammy sauce of fig and port wine. If you haven’t had duck before, perhaps try a bite or two without the sauce, just for the sake of comparison. It is one of my favorite animals to eat, and I hope you come to love it, too.

On the side are more of those truffled mashed potatoes, which neither you nor anyone will tire of eating, as well as honey-glazed carrots and a few spears of fresh asparagus. For $18, it’s a steal and a pretty fancy meal for that business lunch bro you’re dating.

By now, you should be stuffed, but that has never stopped anyone from getting dessert. We tried the apple galette ($6) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. That hot little apple pie was plenty sweet but not overpowering, and the ice cream helped cool it down. This, too, is a dish you might have to share.

Leaving Blackbird full and logy, we realized how easily this could have been a trap. What if this is Norman’s new plan, to lure Cowboys down with the promise of fine food and then put them to work in the football dungeon, turning the crank that powers Bob Stoops’ robot body?

Luckily for us, that food was worth the risk.

Print headline: Duck covered, From fowl to shepherd’s pie, Blackbird Gastropub is tops.

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