My fiance and I were in Ocean City, MD over the weekend, and had dinner at Nebula Friday night. I had read good things about this restaurant (I can't remember where, though), and was curious to try it. We were not at all disappointed.
The amuse bouche was a demitasse cup of "lobster cappuccino." It was a smooth broth-like soup with a frothed top. It was delicious, featuring a good balance of sweetness and brine. I would have liked a whole bowl of it!
I had a vanilla & parsnip soup as my 1st course. It was served over a dense and flavorful pumpkin flan and garnished with lobster claw meat. Overall, it was good, but a bit too sweet. My fiance had the beef tartar. The beef was cut into bite-sized pieces, producing a great texture (I liked it better than a diced tartar). It was garnished with very small rounds of soy-seasoned turnip, which were a great complement to the rich meat.
Our intermezzo was a shotglass full of fresh apple cider. Very refreshing.
I had halibut with a white bean ragu as my main course. The fish was perfectly done, with a nice buttery sear, and the ragu had been seasoned with bacon, with a subtle smoke flavor. My fiance had the paella, which was full of lobster, clams, mussels, and chorizo. Its broth was a delicious citrusy one.
Next, we had a cheese course. We were presented with a list of 7 or 8 cheeses, and chose 3: a creamy soft one, a goat's milk cheddar, and a fontina. The cheeses were served with cubes of cranberry gelatin, which we found to be a welcome touch. Their sweetness went nicely with the saltier cheeses.
For dessert, I had a molten chocolate cake filled with peanut butter. I know this cake is all too familiar now, but I wanted chocolate that night. Very tasty. It was served with a scoop of beet ice cream, which was initially sweet, and gave way to a pleasantly earthy aftertaste. My finace had a poached apple, which was served over an apple cider doughnut he called the best doughnut he ever tasted.
As a final touch, the kitchen sent out some mandarin orange slices dipped in dark chocolate.
The wine by the glass list was short, but each of us was pleased by our selections. We didn't look over the main wine list with too much attention, as we knew we didn't want to order a bottle that night.
The service was excellent, very friendly and welcoming. My fiance and I both remarked that we thought the pacing of our meal was perfect.
The decor was nice: Dark blue fabric-covered walls with window-like insets lit from beneath by orange lights. Cool and warm at the same time. Our table was wonderfully private, up a few steps from the main level of the dinig room and cordoned off by drapes. I found the presence of flat-screen TVs throughout the restaurant to be distracting, though. When we arrived, Top Gun was playing on those screens, and by the time we left, they were showing a surfing documentary. Odd.
Overall, we were very impressed. I found Nebula to be unlike anything I've ever experienced in Ocean City. I can't wait to try it again in the spring or summer, and see what new offerings that season will bring.
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