I went to dinner tonight at Nectar (832 NH Ave, NW, WDC), having been tempted by previous positive reviews. When making the resevation the other day (on OpenTable.com) I tried for a 7pm seating, but was told that only 7:30 was available. When we got to the restaurant, imagine our surprise to see that only one other table was occupied. (Perhaps they only start seating at 7:30??)
Service was very attentive (after all, the servers had few other distractions, though eventually about half the tables were occupied), and we were not at all rushed. For starters we ordered two orders of the cucumber-beet-citrus soup and one of the crab-grapefruit thing, and for mains we had an order each of the hanger steak with polenta, the scallops, and the sea bass with crispy skin. This posed a wine challenge, so we eventually decided to get a half bottle each of a white and a red (all the wines are available in half bottle sizes, which are served in a carafe rather than a mini bottle; the wine list is also reasonably priced). What impresed me was that, after I took some time to decide on a white wine, the waitress decided to bring samples of the wine I ordered and another one that, upon reflection, she thought I would prefer. Indeed she was right, and we went for that one (apologies for not noting the names of the wines we chose).
When the soups were served, we were initially distressed by the tininess of the portion--we were presented with a large bowl in which there was a tiny portion of beet wedges on a bit of sauce. The two of us who ordered it shared a look of distress, upon which the servers announced the dish and then poured the soup from small pitchers into the bowl. The soups were excellent, as was the crab thing.
The main course posed no surprises, and were excellent, the steak having been prepared exactly as I asked for it. The scallops were sweet, and done to a turn. The sea bass (which I did not taste) was declared excellent by its owner.
For dessert we had the creme brulee, the baked Alaska, and the warm strawberry milkshake with fruit terrine. Here again we had a bit of a surprise, since the creme brulee, which was served in a covered dish, appeared to be a small serving consisting solely of two prunes with a caramel sauce. The waiter then inverted the "lid" to reveal the creme brulee to be in that part of the bowl. Very amusing, and something we'll have to try at home.
My one complaint about the place was that they provided us with a second bottle of mineral water--priced at $7 a bottle--without asking if we wanted it. A minor point, but still...
The menu includes a selection of coffees, all prepared in a French press pot, though no espresso. All in all, a really good evening; people really should be visiting Nectar more often, lest it suffer the fate of Zuki Moon and close prematurely.
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