We recently headed out to Blackfire which opened up in Braddon some time ago. When I originally saw the menu months ago (kudos to Blackfire for being so organised and having a website and menu ready way before Blackfire even opened!) it really didn’t grab me, I saw a couple of things that looked pretty good but boy I thought it was pricey. I find it kind of hard to justify a $40 250gm steak, call me cheap but yeah I try to get a bit of value wherever I can, and it’s hard when so many places in Sydney will do a decent one for a more affordable price. When I heard that Blackfire had finally opened up a month or so ago, I had no plans on going but after talking to a couple of friends and seeing quite a bit of love for it online, we decided to check it out.
I was very glad that I took that plunge too! The food was great and the steak was totally worth the $40 price tag, yes it’s still a little pricey but if I had known it would taste so good, I would’ve been happy to part with my $40 to begin with, as it stands it took a little bit of convincing. I was really wary because there’s been a few times in Canberra where I’ve gone to a steakhouse with a decent reputation, spent a fair bit of money and ended up with something I really didn’t care for, not going to name any names so I guess I’ll leave it there.
Outside of the steak, Blackfire does good quite a few cool things as well, though they really do specialise in meats in all shapes and sizes, slow cooking, roast, grilling and what have you. At the back of the restaurant there’s actually a big open fire grill. It’s really cool to sit there and watch half a pig just sitting there cooking away, and the atmosphere of the place felt really authentic. Plus, someone online posted a picture of a whole suckling pig that looked incredible! If any of that sounds good to you, definitely give Blackfire a try. but be warned, Blackfire’s a pretty small restaurant so do make a booking in advance to avoid any disappointment!
Anyways, to the food. We ended up getting quite a few of Blackfire’s nibblies to try and settled on two mains and two desserts.
First entree of the night, a Charcoal wagyu ($6) with bone marrow and seeded mustard mash. These entrees are pretty much bite size, not really made for sharing. The reason I went with this was purely because of the marrow, I love anything marrow, there’s a chance if you plopped a plate in front of me with pure marrow goo on it, i’d just take a straw and eat it all up (picture that). I guess, I’m just trying to say I like marrow, and this dish did not disappoint!
The marrow was rich, gooey, had a fantastic texture and was just woven throughout the lovely mash. The mash here was creamy, and even with the addition of the rich marrow it didn’t get sickly because it was held back on account of the lovely mustard seeds all throughout it. The wagyu was just a small bite sized piece, but it was extremely tender, and had a lovely sauce over the top of it. It didn’t have a thick layer of fat or anything, but there was marbled fat all the way through it, and that’s definitely how I prefer things. Fat with every bite! I loved this, and it rivalled the steak as my favourite for the night, so definitely get this entree!
Another bite size treat, the Peppers stuffed with crab meat and prawns ($6). Whenever I see something stuffed into something else, it’s usually a bit difficult to go past it because, well come on, things stuffed inside other things! I’m normally not a massive fan of capsicum or peppers if you will, I think they taste strange and tend to overpower whatever dish you put them in but the crab and prawn eventually won me over to it.
The pepper was really soft in texture and broke away really easily, there was barely any capsicum flavour to them, they tasted more tomatoes if anything which was a huge pleasant surprise for me. Inside the crab and prawns were heavily flavoured in a light tomato sauce which meant there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of sourness to the dish and I really appreciated that because with such strong flavours this could’ve easily gone wrong. The crab and prawns were cooked perfectly, keeping all their juices intact and still having a little bit of bite to them. I’m not quite sure what the sauce on the bottom was, it didn’t taste like tomatoes or chillies but it did have a bit of a kick to it and went really well with the stuffed peppers.
Our last bite size treat for the night, Charcoal scallops ($5) with a light horseradish bechamel, radish and tarragon gremolata. This was also amazing! Every element tasted great and played off each other perfectly. The scallop was flavoursome, lightly charred on the top giving it just that little bit of crunch. Scallops, or seafood in general, are one of the few things where if you over or undercook it even slightly, it’s ruined, so I really appreciate what they did here.
To bring some strong flavours and elements to the mild flavour of the scallop, Blackfire had this tarragon gremolata sauce, I’m not sure what that is and I tried Googling it but couldn’t work it out. On the night it tasted like a lovely pesto sauce that wasn’t so strong that it overpowered the flavours of the scallop, but did just enough to add some tang to it. The horseradish bechamel also played its part by adding some creaminess to the dish and also a bit of spice and kick but not too much, which I really appreciated because I tend to struggle with strong mustards and horseradishes and wasabis, they just kill dishes for me since I’m not huge on spice. Finally, the thinly sliced radish, I personally didn’t eat this, I found the horseradish in the bechamel sauce was enough for me but it just added some great colour and really made the scallop look quite tempting, apologies if anyone was interested in how it tasted, but it sure looked nice!
Onto something more substantial but still an entree, the Berkshire pork belly ($16) slow roasted with balsamic red rose rhubarb and apple zabaglione. When this came out we all got really excited because the skin was just charred so beautifully, and just looked fantastic.
This is probably a point of preferences but when I get pork belly, I’m really partial to having really crispy pork skin with really tender and soft pork flesh when I order a pork belly. The pork belly served at Blackfire had somewhat chewy skin, it was flavoured quite nicely but still not crispy as I tend to prefer, probably a style thing. One of the things I did appreciate was that there wasn’t a huge layer of fat on this pork, and I know what everyone is thinking, “why get pork belly if you don’t want fat” it’s not that I don’t want fat, fat is amazing, but all too often you’ll get a serve of pork belly and it’s equal parts meat to fat and it’s just pretty sickening, even to me! That person that eats marrow goo through a straw! The meat was quite firm, but not hugely difficult to chew as if it was deep fried like you can get from other places. Outside of texture it tasted, quite porky! Stupid description I know but well there wasn’t too much complexities at play here, really nice simple dish in hindsight.
Our final entree before moving onto the meaty goodness, a Dukkah crusted smoked ocean trout ($18) with finger lime caviar, charred zucchini and shaved fennel, heirloom vinaigrette. This was a great light entree to end on before digging into our heavy mains. The smoked ocean trout tasted really good, it was really soft and wasn’t slimy at all like I was expecting, I guess that was due to the dukkah crust which kept it nice and dry and also added some great crunchy texture and a lot of nuttiness to the trout. To add to the dish there were plenty of strong and flavourful condiments including the finger lime caviar, which I personally didn’t love, but I can see the appeal for others. It’s quite sour, has a bit of a kick to it and a lot of texture, I’ve never heard or tried it before this dish but Blackfire must love it or it must be a mediterranean thing because it showed up a few times in the night, namely in my dessert as well.
There were also more other more usual flavours, including the charred zucchini which I really loved! It was just lightly charred with a little bit of smokiness to it and just complimented the rest of the dish really well, one of the highlights for sure. The fennel added some nice texture and also helped to milden the sometimes overwhelming smokiness of the trout and other condiments. Together the different flavours and textures came together perfectly.
Next up is our first main, the Wagyu rump cap, marbled 7+ (250gram, $27) with shiraz and short beej au jus. I originally wasn’t going to order this, I had my eyes set on the skirt steak but when I went to order it, I was told it comes slow roasted at medium in this little skillet with sauce all over it. While that does actually sound amazing (and looks amazing too, have a look online, there’s pictures of them everywhere) I did stop at the sound of it coming at medium. Weird thing about me, I’m kind of a huge steak nerd, this is not a good thing, I’m aware, but I’m loathe to touch a steak that’s been cooked past rare, and so ended up changing my order to the wagyu rump cap.
The steak came with a light sprinkling of sea salt and some herbs, as well as a lightly grilled lemon. Blackfire seems to have gone to great effort to ensure that the flavour of the meat shone through and you don’t really expect much less from a restaurant that places so much emphasis on their meats. When you order a main, you get a choice of a bunch of sauces, they’re easily found on the menu so I won’t list them, but for this I got the shiraz and short beef au jus. I love everything about jus it’s absolutely amazing and this was no different, it definitely reminds me of old Christmases where we’d roast a big leg of lamb, and then pour our the jus into a bowl and dip entire bread rolls in there. Didn’t manage to get any bread here at Blackfire but eating meat covered in the juices of other meat is something that seriously needs to be done more, because it’s fantastic.
When the steak came out it looked absolutely amazing, just a deep pink all the way through, with the lovely char barely making a mark on the flesh here. The steak wasn’t the most tender in the world, but I put that down to the cut being a rump, and there is an eye fillet available if you’re willing to splash the cash. I was pretty impressed that they managed to get rump to be as tender as it was, it required very little effort to cut through, and the flavours were just fantastic. Hopefully you can tell in the pictures but the meat was extremely juicy and slicing into it didn’t make liquid just ooze out over the plate so definite plus points for that! I honestly don’t really think there are very many good steaks in Canberra (willing to be proven wrong here) but Blackfire was really a pleasant surprise in this department, and if anyone ever asked me where to get a steak in Canberra, I know where I’m sending them.
Our final main was the 8 hour slow roasted Suckling pig ($36). This dish came out in a little fry skillet so at least we managed to get one picture like this! In the back of the restaurant there’s a huge grill and at the time, we just saw this pretty decent sized pig sitting there roasting away, and this is what eventually made us go with this dish.
If you’re into crispy pork skin like I am, then this is definitely the dish for you, the skin was amazingly crunchy, really nicely flavoured and there was a lot of it! The flesh itself was pretty firm, a lot firmer than the pork belly from our entrees, and honestly was a bit difficult to chew down without the help of some water. Outside of the texture, it tasted really nice, with the smoky open fire really permeating the meat and giving it some real character. You get to order a sauce with this one too and we ended up with the Romesco chilli and almond sauce. It was quite a spicy sauce that also had elements of sweetness, kind of like a thick salsa without chunky bits in it. A bit of warning, this dish is pretty hard to completely work your way through on your own, it’s quite rich and the amount of chewing you need to do for the flesh as well as the skin can get pretty tiring, so unless you feel like a workout, order this one to be shared!
For the mains, Blackfire offered a couple of different side plates. However, everyone seems to be a potato lover so we ended up with a couple servings of roasted potatoes. In hindsight, I’m pretty glad we end up with plenty of this because it was actually really delicious. The potatoes were roasted really nicely, though I probably would’ve preferred them to be cooked a bit more so it would have a lovely charr on the outside. With that said, I’m known for wanting overcooked potatoes, so your mileage may vary.
These were really nice and soft on the inside and didn’t just fall apart as if they were boiled too long or anything. These weren’t a complex dish, just some salt, pepper, and some green herb leaves of some sort (I should really get better at identifying these things). The simplistic nature of these potatoes worked well with our already extremely strong and flavoursome mains, this came as a welcome relief to the richness of everything else. Each side wasn’t massive but I felt it was more then enough seeing as the mains were a pretty decent size in themselves. Not sure how much more I can say about potatoes really, if you’re keen for a bit of carb, you can’t go wrong here.
For desserts, we grabbed the Ricotta and apple lime infused cake ($12) with strawberries and zabaglione. This was a lovely little cake. The cake itself was fluffy, light and delicious. There were a lovely creaminess and cheesiness to it, with bits of apple and lime here and there. There was a dried slice of apple on the top of this cake, and I really love dried fruits like apples, mangos and pineapples that you can get from certain markets so I really loved that they did this, the texture and crunch it added was fantastic. The fresh strawberries on the side added some fruitiness and some sourness which helped with the sweetness and richness of the ricotta and apple lime cake. The cake sat in a liquid that tasted a lot like a custard but it wasn’t quite as thick which was quite nice because everything else was really quite rich so to have full blown custard here could’ve been overload. The custard kept the cake from drying out and was really nice to keep everything quite moist, helping out with the crumby and delicious cake.
Our second sweet treat was the Milk yoghurt mousse and crema catalana ($13) with white chocolate and panuelo chocolate and finger lime caviar. I wasn’t really expecting this from the description, I think when I saw mousse, I assumed I was going to get something in a cup or something from a cup that had been turned upside down. I wasn’t expecting to find a cake but nevertheless, it was a delicious cake! There was a thick layer of milk yoghurt milk at the bottom of the cake and on top there was essentially half a creme brulee. Maybe that is what ‘crema catalana’ means but I’m not sure and haven’t really bothered to check. The yoghurt mousse was delicious, it was creamy and had quite some sourness to it. By itself, I think the milk yoghurt mousse would have been too sour for me but with the creamy richness of the top section, it worked perfectly. The two layers complimented each other and tasted amazing. Again this dish came with those strange little finger lime caviars that I also had in the smoked trout dish, I found it really weird with the dessert but I’m sure other people will like it. But the most interesting part of this sweet treat was the sugar roll up like square on the left of the cake. It was essentially a sugary roll up with herbs bits and chilli flakes in it. It packed quite a punch and was really a lot more chilli than it looked like it’d be. It was kind of like a toffee, a bit hard to bite through with it sticking to your teeth and tongue, but it had an amazingly odd flavour and gave the whole dessert another dimension. I really like this dessert. Its like nothing I’ve ever had before and still extremely tasty.
Our trip to Blackfire was an amazingly pleasant surprise! When we first saw the menu here we weren’t really too fussed in trying it purely because we perceived it as a bit too pricey for what it was. Really happy that we decided to give it a go after hearing so many good things about it because Blackfire was a really wonderful experience with fantastic food that we’d be happy to come back to! Looking forward to trying out breakfast and lunch at Blackfire because I’m going to jump at any chance to come back here and try more deliciousness. If you’re in Canberra and you’re after a good steak, you can’t really do a whole lot better than Blackfire.