BlackFinn American Grille has come to Midtown, and it's pulling out all the stops to attract the local clientele. The grand opening is set for next week, but the restaurant is open and serving. At last night's soft opening party guests were given a chance to tour the restaurant and sample some of the dishes on the large and diverse menu.
The restaurant is more than 10,000 square feet, and the massive space has something for everyone. The outside patio area is dog-friendly, and although the view isn't much now, with the area growing it will only add to the area, one of the few walkable parts of the city.
The restaurant itself offers its patrons a choice of atmosphere. There's the casual dining area called the Grille Room and a more quiet space, the Dining Room, which plays homage with photos and memorabilia to all things Houston history. The Saloon will undoubtedly be the area where most will flock. The large bar space is comfortable enough for a company happy hour, a girl's night or Monday Night Football.
I don't think I'm alone in not expecting much from the food in a restaurant like BlackFinn, a chain restaurant and corporate giant at heart -- but the food I sampled was surprisingly good. The set-up for the night included some of the most popular items.
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Since it's a North Carolina based chain, you know that there has to be a pulled pork sandwich on the menu ($9.99). The sandwich was served with coleslaw, the meat was tender, and the vinegar-based sauce was tangy and just slightly sweet. The bacon wrapped meatloaf ($14.99) was down-home comfort food. The lime-seared salmon ($18.99) was well-cooked, and the lime flavor was subtle but effective. My favorite of the night was the carne asada ($22.99) served with a blackened tomatillo salsa that was smoky and toothsome but still had a hint of heat.
Blackfinn is set to open four other locations in the next year, including one in Austin. I think it is a concept that will do well in the growing Midtown area, where late hours and the atmosphere will be a welcome addition.