There was a nice review of Nice Matin in today's Times, which seemed pretty much on the mark to me; the restaurant was fresh in my mind because we had dinner there the night before. I'd originally thought it was in the space that used to be Wilsons, but it was on the corner, where there had been, as I recall, a grocery store (which sold Broasted Chicken).
In any case, Nice Matin is very attractive; a neat small bar in front, and the rest consisting of a variety of well-spaced tables, booths and banquettes. We got there at seven and the place was half empty; when we left at 8:30 it was practically full, but even so, the noise level was low, so you could actually have a conversation without busting your ear drums.
The house cocktails were nine bucks, but our Stoli martinis were $11 (ouch). The bread was lovely, accompanied by a slab of butter in a dish of herb-laced olive oil, which I haven't had before. Appetizers were $4 and $5; included in the latter were stuffed sardines, and stuffed vegetables (stuffed, I gather, with a lashing of braised short ribs, probably made from the previous day's short rib entree). We splurged on a grilled sweetbread appetizer, which we split....my lady's a sucker for grilled sweetbreads; these were crusty and loaded with flavor (the most expensive appetizer on the menu; $11). Then we had the duck magret ($18.50), with small roasted potatoes and dandelion greens (yum). The wine list was good; I had an excellent sauvignon blanc ($8) to go with my gnocchi in a lobster cream sauce ($17.50) that was utterly succulent; the best gnocchi I've had since about April '79, even though they could have been a little more generous with the lobster. Finally, a rhubarb clafouti ($7) that was a little short of excellent, but, hey, we liked it anyway. Even the coffee ($2.50) was good. Service was outstanding all the way through. And finally,when we got the bill there as an "opening discount" of $9 noted. Who knew? Anyway, net-net, a super addition to the UWS, which I rank above JL, Compass and Aix.
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