Against my better judgment, and based on the recommendations of at least three people, I unfortunately had dinner at Nice Matin today. What an overrated and annoying place.
I'll go chronologically. Within a few minutes of waiting for a table, a waitress dropped a beer bottle onto the floor in such a way that it rotated while falling and managed to spray a stream of Samuel Smith beer (probably brown ale or stout) about a yard outwardly and onto the back of my shirt. I took this in stride.
Upon being seated, the first thing we reviewed was the wine list -- what a disaster zone.
First, it's poorly organized. It attempts to replace the traditional classification by region with groupings by flavor category, such as "Bordeaux Style/Meritage" and "Italian/Ital-Cal". Oddly, Beaujolais is grouped together with Premier Cru Gevrey-Chambertain under "Burgundy/Pinot Noir", although Beaujolais has about as much resemblance to Cote d'Or reds (not to mention Premier Cru Cote de Nuits) as the latter does to Ocean Spray cranberry juice. California Zinfandel is grouped with "Italian/Ital-Cal" even though last time I checked Zinfandel was determined to be a Hungarian grape and not an Italian grape, not to mention that the only tenuous connection Zin has to Italy is that Italians are trying in vain to make good Primitivo -- Zin certainly tastes nothing like, nor serves as a replacement for, any other Italian grape. For Bordeaux, names are listed beginning with winery/producer, then appellation/village. For Burgundy and Rhone, the names begin with appellation/village, then list the producer. It's as if whoever made the wine list simply read off the bottle label top to bottom without understanding any of it, making the wine list jarring to read between sections.
Second, many of the wines are of the notoriously poor/mediocre vintages of which there is a glut in the marketplace, such as '98 or '00 Napa Cab, '96 Brunello, '99 Bordeaux. Not that the glut allowed the good folks at Nice Matin to offer more reasonable prices -- markups are at least 2x retail for these young wines, and the alternative is a not-so-gracious $25 corkage fee. ([BROKEN LINK REMOVED])
Third, the poor glassware consists of two types: fine glassware (e.g., Riedel "red wine" glasses) and cafeteria-thickness glassware (e.g., Crate & Barrel "table wine" glasses), each type of which is used for every wine, red and white. It is unclear how they determine who gets which glass, but, looking around us, the best-correlated variable seemed to be the price of your shirt.
After waiting for about 20 minutes with "hello!?" looks on our faces and the menus closed on our table, our waiter decided to grace us with his monkey-suit presence. He informed us that many of their dishes, including their special du jour, their famed beef burger, and a couple of other entrees, were unavailable.
The food was uninspired but decent. Asparagus hors d'ouevre was overcooked. Merguez w/ mustard hors d'ouevre was excessively spicy and acidic with nothing to balance it. The gnocchi, which contained peas and overcooked lobster bits, was pleasant and well-balanced, but the dish as a whole was tiringly blah.
If the prices were about half of what they are, I could justify at least going to Nice Matin for the entrees, but at these prices I'd rather go somewhere good.