This past week, we were hosted by BlackFinn to check out their new Dine & Wine Wednesdays. I have to admit it’s been a while since I’ve been to BlackFinn especially for dinner. They now offer some pretty tempting $6 appetizers and flatbreads as well as $3 domestic drafts, house wines and well drinks from 4-7pm on Wednesdays. Bottles of wine are half price all night as well as glasses of wine PLUS if you stay for dinner, they’ll take 15% off your bill.
We arrived a little bit late, so we needed to catch up to everyone else. I’d seen a twitpic on my way there from Jax Food Critic of a perfect looking Mojito, so I was already thinking of ordering one. We perused the drink menu and saw an entire page dedicated to Mojitos. We ordered a “Coconut Lime” and a “Dragon Berry” (left and right respectively). These aren’t on their Wednesday Dine & Wine featured happy hour, but I just can’t pass up the chance to try a good Mojito. One of my first places in Jacksonville was actually at Esplanade condominiums located right behind Maggianos in St. Johns Town Center. Living there it was super fun to invite friends over and just go “bar hopping”. This was way before The Markets at Town Center and BlackFinn were built. One of my favorite places to bar hop around St. Johns Town Center? Cheesecake Factory for their Mojitos. I loved sitting at the bar and watching the bartender muddle the mint and make magic. So how did this Mojito compare? These Mojitos weren’t syrupy. They were tasty and delicious and definitely gave the bartenders at Cheesecake a “run for the money”.
Next, we had to try their featured appetizers. First up? The Southern Nachos. These were a generous plate full of crunchy chips topped with the usual cheese, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos (which I picked off), and tomatoes. What made these remarkable was the addition of Barbequed Pulled Pork and, instead of regular ol’ cheese, it was smothered in a chipotle queso. These nachos had a flavorful, smokey flavor. I honestly would head here for happy hour JUST so I could order these. After a long day or week of work, sometimes I just want some queso and chips, THIS is just that and more. Plus for $6 these were a good deal. Usually nachos this big and tasty cost around $8-10. Plus the chips weren’t charred, and we weren’t left with dried out chips on the bottom. (I hate that…) You really need to come and try it for yourself. If you do, please let me know what you thought.
Next up, per Adam’s request, we ordered the calamari. The first time I tried this was at a chain Italian restaurant, and they were chewy and unimpressive. I have to say here they were tasty and not ‘bouncy bouncy’ like my first calamari experience, but still not my personal choice when there are so many other options available. Since I clearly have no knowledge of good calamari, I asked Adam, the calamari “expert,” his thoughts. He said they we’re tender and lightly fried. Compared to other restaurant calamari, it wasn’t as spicy and slightly bland. It could handle some italian seasoning in the breading. The rings were slightly smaller than expected, but the plate was plentiful and more than enough. He’d order these again if we were there & had a taste for calamari.
Lastly we sampled their Margherita Flatbread (above) and their Buffalo Chicken Flatbread (below). The Margherita was good, but a little dry. On the other hand, their Buffalo Chicken was good. The chicken tasted like it had been cubed and then spent time marinating in something similar to Franks Hot Sauce. (Franks rocks my socks.) Flatbreads are really popular at restaurants recently, and I’m used to a thin, dry crust. This was flaky and not dried out at all.
After trying out their happy hour selections, we decided to stay and headed inside for dinner.
We were also celebrating an anniversary, so we decided to indulge just a little bit. Our waiter was really helpful in assisting us to select a Cabernet Sauvignon. Since bottles are half price, why not! Plus, if you purchase the bottle, but would like to enjoy the rest of it at home, BlackFinn will package it up so you can safely bring it home with you.
I do love the QR codes that are showing up on packaging these days from Heinz ketchup bottles to wine!
I also enjoyed a glass of Stella. I love when the beer comes in a glass that represents.
Adam knew exactly what he was ordering before we even sat down. On a previous visit (another anniversary), I’d enjoyed the Iron Skillet Lobster Mac -n- Cheese while Adam drooled from across the table. This time, that’s exactly what he was ordering. Nothing could change his mind.
I selected the Shrimp and Grits. I’m silly and didnt read past the title, so I didn’t realize these were actually grit cakes (which I personally don’t care for).
We enjoyed out tasty beverages until our entrees appeared.
Bam! It may look tiny, but it’s actually a big skillet and very filling! Adam said the lobster Mac was meaty, cheesy deliciousness. No improvements needed.
My Shrimp and Grits (cakes) were really good and REALLY hot! The Tasso (ham) cream sauce was really flavorful and complimented the blackened shrimp. I also loved how they artfully stacked the grit cakes with two jumbo shrimp for an appetizing design. It wasn’t just lumped on the plate. (Seasons 52 also makes sure their entrees are plated artfully). I do wish the dish title had said “cakes,” (and not just the description) because I really had my heart on some buttery grits (Palm Valley Fish Camp style). It’s ok though, I clearly survived, and honestly needed to save room for dessert!!
Oh yes. Chocolaty melty Peanut Butter surprise! Drool. The official (and very deceptive) name is “BlackFinn Hot Chocolate.”
At first this looks so simple until you dig in to discover cakey brownie moist deliciousness. Then you’re hooked on the peanut butter surprise that lines the bottom of the cup. The chocolate and peanut butter soufflé is served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and caramel. It is definitely plenty to share among two or even three people.
Next, we ordered.. HA! We didn’t order anything else. We rolled on home and fell into a sleep coma.