Report Card: BlackFinn Saloon

A shot of the dining room from the BlackFinn website

A shot of the dining room from the BlackFinn website

BlackFinn American Saloon on Urbanspoon

http://www.blackfinncharlotte.com/

Overall GrubGrade A

 

The Breakdown:

Atmosphere:  Grade A:  BlackFinn Saloon doesn’t really look like anything special on the outside, but it’s a different story on the inside.  We really like the subdued décor of the dining room.  We went for a really early dinner, so the place was pretty quiet and empty.  The tables might be a little too close together for my taste, but we snagged a booth and there was no one else but us there, so it was nice and quiet.  One really neat thing that we’ve never seen before was individual television sets in each booth.  While not conducive to conversation, it does allow you to watch a sporting event without having to crane your neck at odd angles to see a wall mounted television.

High marks:  Laid back décor, individual television sets

Low marks:   Tables might be a little too close together

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Service:  Grade A-:  Sometime I wonder if we are a little too harsh on this category.  It really takes something unique for us to give above a “B+” for service.  Our server, Tori, performed her duties with speed and competence.  That’s not usually enough to push a service grade this high, but Tori did something most servers won’t – she gave me her honest opinion.  I was torn between two entrees and asked her opinion.  She never hedged at all.  Instead of telling me “both are really good” or “you can’t go wrong with either,” she actually told me which dish she thought was better and WHY.  I took her advice, and she was spot on.  The dinner flowed nicely, and nothing was forgotten or missed.

High marks:  Good, quick, service – server not shy about giving opinion of dishes

Low marks:   None, but it’s a “saloon”, so we were pretty undemanding

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Food/Spirits:  Grade A:  We decided to start our little food adventure at BlackFinn with some Ying Yang Bang Bang Shrimp.  We were a little disappointed.  The shrimp are described as being tossed in a “sweet and spicy sauce,” but we found the sauce not spicy at all.  The sauce was still good, and the shrimp were perfectly cooked.  For drinks, Katina ordered a Basil Berry Cooler and the BlackFinn Tea (somebody was in a party mood).  She describes the Basil Berry Cooler as sweet, very refreshing, and delicious.  Katina said the drink reminded her of a mojito without the mint.  As for the BlackFinn Tea – think of an Arnold Palmer, but with a little more hair on its chest.  For myself, I went with the Dragonberry Mojito, and followed it with a couple of Goose Island 312 ales.  The mojito had just the right amount of sweet.  You could tell it was a mojito with a slight twist.  The Goose Island 312 is one of my favorite wheat beers.  I love the cloudiness and thickness, and the citrus hints go perfectly with warm weather.  For entrees, Katina selected the Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese, and I settled on the jambalaya after a discussion with our server.  Katina really enjoyed her mac and cheese.  She says it was creamy, and the BBQ sauce from the pulled pork added some sweetness.  Toss in some diced tomatoes and bacon, and you get one hearty dish.  The jambalaya was fantastic.  The only criticism I had was that it could have been a little hotter (spicier).  I find a lot of jambalaya dishes become unbalanced, with too much of one ingredient and too little of another.  This jambalaya was very well balanced.  I’m a huge fan of Andouille sausage, so I was pleased that the jambalaya had an abundance of this ingredient.  BlackFinn really put together an excellent meal for us.

High marks:  Excellent drinks, stellar mac and cheese, really well balanced jambalaya

Low marks:  Ying Yang shrimp and jambalaya could have both been a little spicier

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Value:  Grade B+:  We were starving when we got to BlackFinn, so no doggy bags for us.  However, we didn’t have room for dessert, either.  Really good food and drinks coupled with generous portion sizes make for a good combo.  Throw in the fact that we got out of there spending just one Ben Franklin, and we feel like we got a pretty good value.  You should definitely stop by the BlackFinn Saloon if you’re in Charlotte.  You won’t be disappointed.

High marks:   Excellent food and drinks, generous portion size

Low marks:  Our bill would have been more reasonable if we’d gone easy on the drinks

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