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Nectar review (long)

MC | Feb 28, 2005 09:53 AM

Got taken to Nectar on Saturday. Here is my review.

The place is hard to find, especially at night. The street is not well lit and the restaurant is non-descript from the outside. This caused us to be a bit late but I must say that the restaurant was very accomodating and our lateness was a non-factor.

The layout of the restaurant is interesting. Entering you walk through a set of curtains and are met by a perfectly lit room. The restaurant has one of those great buzzes as you enter. Staff are smiling and energetic and people at tables all seem to be enjoying themselves. The hostess is STUNNING! Almost worth the trip itself.

We were seated downstairs (there are two floors and we got put in the basement). Same decor but a slight disappointment as its not quite as impressive as the upstairs.

Our server, David, was great. Young, enthusiastic without being intrusive. While I had done some reading about their "deconstruction" philosophy he provided even further details and committed the menu to memory. He also provided us with perfect wine pairings with our food. Quite possibly the best matches I have ever had. Truly spectacular.

Started with some carbonated water in a funky bottle. It was fine but water is water... Got four baguette slices. Completely broing and unoriginal. Could get this bread at any grocery chain.

The menu is really bare bones falling in line with their deconstruction philosophy. Hard to understand what exactly you are getting. E.g. Salad - yellow or green; soup - thick or thin; fois gras - chaud or frois. That is all that is on the menu. Interesting because its different but for foodies its lack of detail is frustrating and seems more kitchy then anything else. Good thing David was there to help us navigate.

Started with Malpeque Oysters. We each had one raw and one cooked. Both superb. The raw were coupled with a homeade cocktail sauce with juliennes of horseradish as opposed to the normal fine dice. Got this minature bottle of tabasco which was cute but wrapped so tight that it was extremely difficult to open. Also given an eye dropper full of fresh lemon juice which was great. The cold oysters were the perfect temperature and very fresh.

The hot oysters were a deep golden brown and served with a homemade tarter sauce. Delish... Perfectly cooked and went down almost as smooth as the raw ones. Had a superb glass of Niagra sparkling Riesling (G.H. Funk, 13th street). Great pairing.

For the appetizers I had the lobster croquettes (wild\spicy) and my friend had the chaud fois gras. The croqettes were hot and delicious. Crispy on the outside with good sized chunks of lobster. Served with another of those annoying tabasco bottles and a minature canellle of pesto in pesto oil. Interesting how ingredients are seperated on different plates but again I found this to be more kitchy then anything else. The recommended white is one of the greatest glasses of wine I have ever had. A Campania Fiano Di Avellino (Thomas and Geisen). Wow!!! Good call David!

The fois gras was a nice sized piece. Seared well but a little cold and also a little overdone (could have used 10-15 seconds less). Maybe that's a little picky but fois gras is fois gras. Served with fruit perserves (on their own plate) and a pea shoot salad (own plate). The french sautern was as always a natural match.

The selection of mains were disappointing in terms of options. Three fish and four meats. Again non-descript with all the usuals. Tuna, Salmon, Snapper, Duck, Chicken, Lamb and Steak. Nothing really stood out. For the main I had the duck two ways and my friend had the tuna three ways.

The duck breast was cooked really well (medium rare of course) and served with searched spinach and pearl onions. It also had a superbly creamy and delicious spaghetti squash. Very nice but not particularily creative or original. The duck leg was blah. Cut into shards and served with a wild rice. Not really impressive at all. The wine though was another winner. A Piemonte Barbera D'asti (Le Orme Michele Chiarlo). Smooth and flavourful.

The tuna was better. A seared loin (medium rare) was not particularly original but nice. The cooked variety was served with tomatoes and capers was very good and not overdone at all. The third was a long thin strip with a balsamic reduction. Again not so new but good. Matched with an Australia Grenache Shiraz (Jeanneret) was yet another awesome choice.

For dessert we shared the desert sampler with an Inniskilin Vidal Ice Wine and a french fortified wine. Nice selection of desserts with the best being the butterfinger cheesecake and coconut carrot cake.

Total came to $270 (before tip). On the whole I was a little disappointed on the food for the $ paid (save for the oysters). But the wine was so good that it really made up for it. David was really great and wrote out all the wines that we drank and included the agents to call to get them.

I'd recommend this place if money is no object but would hope they would be a little more adventurous in the future. The food is not in the same league as places like Susur or Scaramouche. Not even as good as Boba or Corner House.

Still had a fun night and a thoroughly enjoyable time.

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