Where: Blacksmith's Bistro and Bar, 809 Market St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday
Price range: $3-$17
It's said that good things come in threes, and this rings true for Blacksmith's Bistro. Now in its third location, the restaurant is the best it's ever been.
Blacksmith's forerunner, Caffeine, opened on M.L. King Boulevard about eight years ago. It was open only a couple of years before husband-and-wife owners Blacky and Kelly Smith opened Blacksmith's Bistro in St. Elmo. They closed Caffeine to concentrate on the bistro, which they ran for four years.
But the couple yearned to move their restaurant back downtown. So when Market Street Tavern closed just months after totally renovating a space on Market Street, the Smiths wasted no time moving Blacksmith's in. It didn't take long for hungry crowds to appear.
There's something for all on Blacksmith's menu, from a good range of Small Plates (tapas/appetizers) to main-dish salads, burgers, sandwiches and a few good Big Plates (heartier entrees). Or you could stop by on the way home from work, order a glass of wine at the bar and munch on some sides, such as the jerk sweet potato fries or onion rings.
The order: Fried green tomatoes ($6), the Gooey Burger with chips ($11); The BLAST sandwich with fries ($11).
Presentation plays a huge role at this bistro, so a meal here is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate.
The fried green tomatoes came on a small white platter spread with black bean sauce. A trio of thinly sliced, lightly breaded fried green tomatoes lay stacked on top of the sauce with housemade pimento cheese spread between each tomato. Complementing the tomatoes was a tangy house sauce called booyah sauce. This could stand alone as a meal with a salad, but it also made a nice starter to share.
Blacksmith's burgers are hand-patted and seasoned remarkably well, then offered with a variety of toppings, from fried eggs to avocados. The Gooey Burger was about as good as a burger gets, with an imaginative blend of pimento cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado and Russian dressing.
The BLAST is Blacksmith's take on a BLT, with shrimp and avocado added. This is one of the best sandwiches I've had of late. The shrimp was spiced with a dry rub then grilled. The bacon was very flavorful. And the grilled sourdough bread added just the right amount of texture, making this sandwich a marvel of taste, crunch and creamy deliciousness. I would be amiss not mentioning the shoestring fries. It's been a while since I've had fries that good.
The clever presentation of sandwiches and burgers brings a smile to diners. The food arrives at the table nestled in small metal bucket-style vessels that add to the bistro feel the eatery projects.
Blacksmith's is a full-service menu with a good staff of servers. Ours couldn't have been more on task and brought our orders out in record time. She was swift to fill empty drink glasses, but otherwise left us alone. No room for improvement noted.
Blacksmith's is a shotgun-style design, with a bar in the front and tables with chairs and bench seating throughout. The kitchen is curtained off in the rear. There is also al fresco streetside dining along Market Street. The restaurant, with its warm tones and wood-paneled walls, has a rustic edge to it that adds to the bistro feel of the space.
Three's a charm for Blacksmith's. The Smiths have come full circle and have landed back downtown with a dynamic combination of taste and style, one that appeals to the many who live and work in the area.
Email Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.