First Bite: Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery


I had an opportunity recently to check out the new Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery, chef Carina Lampkin’s revamp of her former restaurant concept Blackbird Kitchen & Bar. Located in downtown Sacramento on 9th Street, the restaurant’s dark, edgy ambiance feels much the same, and the noise volume is as raucously elevated as I remember from my previous dining experiences in the space. Lampkin’s popular raw oyster bar has been replaced with a traditional drinking bar, and she has installed a dizzying array of tap handles—beer lovers will delight in the restaurant’s wide selection of suds. I was happy to see that Lampkin’s trademark “Captain’s Chowder” has remained on the new menu—creamy and satisfying, and chock-full of Pollock, squid, mussels and clams, this dish alone is worth a visit. Another appealing menu item was the salmon toro, prettily arranged on a plate with an array of lively pickled vegetables and flower petals. One improvement in “Blackbird 2.0,” as the servers call it, is that there is now a bar menu available offering more casual and approachable dishes such as a plate of “Norcal” tempura and fish tacos—and carnivores will be pleased to know that chef Lampkin has kept her first-rate Blackbird Burger on the menu.