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Dinner at Nectar

Sthitch | Jul 12, 2004 10:37 AM

My wife and I wanted to try somewhere new (at least for the two of us), so we decided to give Nectar a try. We travel to New York quite often and when we are there for more than one night, we always try to head to Craft for dinner on at least one of those nights. I always wished that we had a similar restaurant in Washington. If you have never been to Craft, what Tom Colicchio and his crew attempt, and succeed at doing, is to prepare a main ingredient to perfection. The dishes are simple, but must be prepared flawlessly as they cannot hide mistakes with sauces and accompaniments. Finally I have found such a place, and it is Nectar.

The menu is very limited; I believe that there were only five entrée selections on Saturday. I started with foie gras that was cooked perfectly and topped with a piece of caramelized pineapple. The combination was so perfect, that my wife, who always finds foie gras too rich, wanted a second bite. She had a perfectly prepared Tahitian crab salad. It was simply dressed and the crabmeat stood out for its flavor, texture, and quantity. The entree I ordered was the sea bass. The fish was perfectly cooked, with the skin so exquisitely prepared that it reminded me of a wonderful piece of fried chicken. The fish was served with no sauce, but a simple garnish of baby fennel. My wife had the hanger steak that was done to perfection and served on a bed of brilliantly prepared polenta. Desert did not disappoint. My wife decided on the Baked Alaska. At its core was a hazelnut ice cream with nice sized pieces of hazelnuts spread throughout. The desert was finished with an “invisible hot chocolate”, which was chocolate flavored vodka. I thought that I made a mistake when I order desert, oh how wrong I was. I asked the maitre de what his favorite dish was, and he told me the baked Alaska, I informed him that my wife was getting that, and asked for his second choice. He pointed me to the baked fruit in papillote. The problem is that I did not ask what fruit it contained. It arrived and they announced that it was rhubarb and strawberries. Now I love strawberries, but I had never tried rhubarb, and that was by plan. However today I was stuck looking down at the only “fruit” that I had never tried. I took a piece on my fork and expected something stringy and just nasty tasting. Oh, how wrong I was. The rhubarb was one of the most wonderful things I had ever eaten. The rest of the dish was a biscuit, and sauce Chantilly.

One of the only things I could find about Nectar on the board was how great the breadbasket would be, and it did not disappoint. The butter was so fresh that it reminded me of what my Grandmother used to make. The wine program at Nectar is not only broad enough for their menu, but everything is available by the glass, half bottle, or bottle. I really love this option and wish more restaurants would have such an expansive wine by the glass programs. We are both looking forward to returning to this superb and charming restaurant.

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