Blackbird readies for Feb. 25 opening with new beer focus

Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery is set to open Feb. 25 with new owners and a refreshed concept.

The revered restaurant formerly known as Blackbird Kitchen & Bar (1015 Ninth Street) unexpectedly closed in late September, leaving its employees in a panic and the rest of the food community in a state of confusion. As it turns out, there was some family drama at the family-owned restaurant, and the business was losing money fast.

With the addition of non-familial partners, executive chef Carina Lampkin is feeling good.

“I’m happy to have the team I have now so I can stay in the kitchen and not worry so much about the marketing and finances,” she said. “The concept has been retooled a bit to be profitable and sustainable, but we’re still offering the community beautiful food and art.”

She shrunk her kitchen staff from seven to five people—that’s about $60,000 in payroll cuts—and expanded the bar program. Lampkin estimates about 90 percent of the 50 taps will be California brews, and about a third of those will be from Sacramento. Meanwhile, the raw bar will be transformed into cider bar, with six ciders on tap.

Special beer dinners are in the works as well. For Sacramento Beer Week, Lampkin has planned a five-course, beer-paired meal with Ninkasi Brewing Company on March 6 and a Two Rivers Brewing Company takeover on March 7, with accompanying party-style bites.

The daily dinner menu will remain seafood-focused, but Lampkin is lacing more beer into the food and adding a bar menu to match a more casual, and hopefully lively, off-hours vibe. (There are new wooden community tables in the back, for example.)

“It’s kind of like a no-duh,” Lampkin said. “People would come in asking for fish tacos all night but we wouldn’t sell them after 6 p.m.”

Expect other elevated bar classics, like Lampkin’s “Little Cochina,” a dish of pork braised in porter with avocado mousse, tomatillo pico de gallo, queso fresco and chips on the side. “It’s like nachos, but 100 times better,” she said.

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