by Kellie Abrahamson
The Markets at Town Center’s newest restaurant, BlackFinn American Grille, officially opened last month, giving area foodies the opportunity to experience even more delectable dining at the city’s red hot shopping district. The Jacksonville location is the tenth restaurant in the chain and the first in Florida.
Each room in BlackFinn has a different theme. There is a certain masculinity to the dining areas that will appeal to men, but it’s not so overt that female diners will feel out of place. If you’re craving a date night but your man’s not into froo-froo trappings, BlackFinn is your kind of place. The first room you’ll encounter in the Grille Room, a country club-esque space decorated with a golf theme. The showcase piece is the room’s beautiful wooden bar complete with outlets built in to accommodate those needing to work through lunch. Next is the Dining Room, a warm, homey space with a fireplace and wildlife busts and photos dotting the walls. It almost feels like the living room in an upscale cabin. The Dining Room is the ideal location for an intimate dinner for two or a family gathering.
On the other side of the building is the Saloon, a room that will be hoppin’ on game days. A massive bar takes up much of the space with booth seating along the walls, each with its own TV. A DJ booth is tucked in one corner and a booming sound system will keep the party going until closing time (2 am, seven days a week). The room has a nautical feel to it, complete with an enormous shark suspended from the ceiling. Exiting through the Saloon will take you to the Patio, an outdoor dining space with its own bar. As the weather cools down you might find it difficult to get seated in this Nantucket-chic spot. Casual and charming, BlackFinn acknowledges that this is perhaps the most desirable dining location in the building. That will be especially true when live acoustic acts begin to perform on the Patio on weekend evenings.
While the atmosphere is pleasing, the food at BlackFinn is really the star of the show. At first glance the restaurant offers up fairly standard Americana fare: steaks, seafood, burgers, pasta and comfort food like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. But a closer look shows that each item is prepared with flair, seasoned in unexpected spices from around the world and served with dramatic plating that will have everyone in your party staring in disbelief as each entree is placed on the table. Four steaks are offered on the dinner menu, each expertly cooked to your specifications and paired with unassuming yet divine side dishes. The Herb Rubbed Campfire Steak ($28.99), for instance, is well-seasoned and delicious, but you’ll be insisting that you’re fellow diners sample the maple glazed carrots it comes with (or greedily keep them to yourself). The Hong Kong Style Chilean Sea Bass ($24.99) is a masterpiece. Served with a coconut curry rice cake and spinach, then smothered in a soy sauce blended with Asian spices, this is one dish you will be coming back for. Even the comfort foods are special. The meatloaf ($14.99) is wrapped in bacon and served with honey chipotle ketchup and the Macaroni and Cheese can either be served with “Surf” (massive chunks of lobster- $18.99) or “Turf” (barbeque pulled pork- $13.99).
Items on the dinner menu are substantial, so be prepared to ask for a doggie bag if you plan in indulging in an appetizer or dessert. Both, by the way, are highly recommended. On the appetizer side, the Blackened Brie ($7.99) is a great combination of flavors and the BlackFinn Crab Tower ($14.99) is a winner. Chocolate lovers will want to save room for the BlackFinn Hot Chocolate ($6.99), a glass filled with a fallen chocolate and peanut butter soufflé topped with vanilla ice cream and homemade whipped cream. For something a bit less sweet, sample the Strawberry Shortcake ($6.99), a southern-style buttermilk biscuit smothered in strawberries and homemade whipped cream.
BlackFinn’s commitment to quality carries over to the bars as well. While the Saloon has the largest selection of beer, wine and liquor in the place, each is fully stocked and manned by terrific bartenders eager to please. Fresh-squeezed cocktails will be a big hit and lovers of all things local will be happy to see Bold City’s Killer Whale Cream Ale on tap.
BlackFinn American Grille is open for lunch every day from 11 am to 4 pm. Dinner is from 4 pm to 11 pm, but night owls can grab a bite off of the late night menu which is served until 2 am. On Sundays stop in for brunch from 11 am to 4 pm. Be sure to take advantage of BlackFinn’s weekly specials and join the Finn Club for special offers and news on upcoming events. To sign up or to learn more about the restaurant, visit www.blackfinnamericangrille.com.
See You at the Finn!
by Kellie Abrahamson