It has been over a year since we dined at Nick's on Broadway for dinner. This weekend was a much-anticipated return, and we opted for the chef's tasting menu with wine pairing. We've done the tasting menu many times over the years, and although the format can be a bit predictable, this rendition was probably the best version we've ever experienced.
The service at Nick's is always top-notch--friendly, professional, and informed. My husband had a beer to start, and I was provided with a complimentary glass of sparkling blanc de blanc so I wouldn't have to just watch him drink. So thoughtful! The amuse was a bite of apple, roasted onion, and blue cheese which tasted of autumn. Then, a small cup of roasted pepper soup with creme fraiche--warming, delicious, could have eaten a bowl.
First course was Quonset oysters three ways. The oysters were extremely mild, almost sweet, with very muted brine. Personally, I like a briny oyster, but the mildness paired nicely with the accompaniments, particularly an unusual strawberry mignonette and (the highlight) baked oyster with sweet potato sabayon.
Second course was a spectacular surprise. Traditionally, the second course of the tasting menu at Nick's has been what we call a"clock" charcuterie board (meats, cheeses, and garnishes arranged in a circle around the edge of a plate like numbers on the face of a clock). No clock this time. Instead, the most phenomenal terrine we've ever tasted: headcheese and bourbon terrine on butter-toasted baguette with whole pickled mustard (and I think there was a sweet spread of some kind on the toast too. Phenomenal! It was so good, it was easy to overlook the rich pork mousse that was also on the plate and phenomenally delicious. As I recall, this was paired with a bright gruner veltliner.
We were pretty sure we'd hit the high point of the meal in the second course, but the third course also made a play for the title. It was roasted mussel and squid with squid-ink and corn risotto. Risotto often appears as the third course on the chef's tasting menu, and Chef Derek Wagner always hits it out of the park. The squid was so succulent you could cut it with a fork. Paired nicely with Caprice de Clementine, a good-value provencal rose which we regularly enjoy at home in the summer months.
Final course was bluefish fillet on bed of puree sweet potato and roasted autumn vegetables. We don't care much for bluefish. Occasionally we'll eat it as a spread or fritter, but for straight-up fillets, we don't see it or eat it anywhere but at Nick's (where it's appeared repeatedly on the tasting menu.) What can I say, it was great. The meat was almost caramelized, the accompaniments were sweet and rich. It was a perfect fall entree and tasted very fresh.
Overall, this wasn't a cheap night out, but we definitely feel like we got our money's worth for a night of creative food and exceptional service. Hope it won't be another year before we make it back.