Partners Scott Frielich of Subculture Group, Angelo Abbenante of Lynora’s, Cleve Mash of Clematis Social, and executive chef Tim Nickey each have a soft spot for traditional, Chinese-American mainstays such Peking Duck. So it’s appropriate they nearly named the new modern Asian restaurant they’re hatching in September after the crispy, Cantonese classic. Rather, they chose “Blackbird”, a songbird emblematizing mystery, magic, and samsara, or rebirth.
Located along Old Dixie Highway near the foursome’s popular Mexican emporium, PapiChulo Tacos, on U.S. 1 in Jupiter, FL., the restaurant occupies a prime corner once belonging to the iconic Jupiter Crab Company.
When the property’s most recent iteration, Shipwreck Bar & Grille, shuttered and hit the market in early-2021, the partners quickly snagged it.
“It represents a slice of Old Florida we respect and want to keep preserved for our community,” Abbenante said.
Frielich agrees. “We saw the opportunity breathe new life into it and introduce a progressive gastronomy experience that has been unexplored in North Palm Beach until now.”
The two-story, 5,500-square-foot space features 150 seats and banquets, three dining venues, and two cocktail bars, including an alfresco setting on the second floor with expansive, southwesterly vistas of the Jupiter Lighthouse and Loxahatchee River. Guests can access inside or by an exterior staircase.
Nickey, who has led two of Miami’s more popular Asian kitchens – David Grutman’s Komodo and Jeffrey Chodorow’s China Grill – is preparing a Pan Asian menu dotted with dim sum favorites and Chinatown-style staples. Highlights will include Shanghai soup dumplings;,smoked salmon and everything bagel ragoons; Australian wagyu tomahawk with truffle ponzu butter sauce; and sweet and sour pork with chunks of pineapple and dragon fruit. As a signature dish, Nickey will present Szechwan ribs inside a smoke-infused glass dome that will be removed tableside.
Complementing the kitchen’s creations will be a libations menu offering scratch cocktails concocted with fresh herbs and exotic fruits, new and Old World wines, and an expansive collection of Japanese sakes.
“We’ve created an uncompromising bar program where the liquid does the talking,” Mash said
Blackbird’s Far East interior was created by West Palm Beach interior designer Kat Solomon of Kat Solomon Design, collected luxurious textiles, mixed vintage and contemporary furnishings, and added avant-garde touches, such as a 12-foot Buddha, a ceiling adorned with inverted white umbrellas, and flocks of tiny paper birds (lit with LED lights) that wing around the main dining room.
Solomon, who formerly worked with tennis star Venus Williams, kept the restaurant’s preexisting footprint intact while salvaging as many architectural elements as possible, including cast iron railings and the soaring mahogany ceiling and millwork. Art plays an important role in the design narrative, as well. Miami muralist – and Mash’s niece Amanda Valdes – created three works, including a two-piece installation suspended above the main bar .
Blackbird will be open daily for dinner at 4 p.m. Entertainment and a live dj will be featured on Friday and Saturday evenings from 10 p.m. to2 a.m.Dim sum brunchshowcasingupscale versions of tried-and-true classics prepared with modern twistswill be hosted on Sundaysfrom 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Feature Photo: Szechuan Smoked Pork Spare Ribs (Alissa Dragun)