My girl Coothie sailed in from the DC area recently and asked for a true LA night-out experience. I chose Nic's as the drink/dine venue of the eve - had never been, but had a good feeling it would deliver.
Place: Nic's Martini Lounge, Friday, 2/3 - 7:30 PM
Myself + 1 guest
Ratings in brief:
Ambiance - B
The space has multi-colored striped walls and a funky vibe. I like.
Service - B
Henry, our waiter, had his hands full, but he took good care of us.
Food (Taste) - B+
Surprised. Pleasantly surprised, and in one case, positively blown away.
Food (Presentation) - B+
Well-presented, plated, displayed. Dishes looked purrrty.
Wine/Drinks - B-
For a place that specializes in martinis, I was not all that impressed. The drink list was creative enough, but the execution - just so-so.
Value - B+
We drank like two femme-fishies and ate up a storm, so the high tab was expected and it didn't hurt one bit.
Overall Experience - B+
Girls night out, yo - we descended on Nic's a bit late for our reservation but we're promptly seated and attended to by Henry. Great central table, next to a very loud birthday party that kindly adopted us as surrogate members. Awesome vibe in this place - packed with hipsters, but a friendly bunch - as well as a celebrity or two, which made my just-visiting girl-pal absolutely gleeful.
Nic's has an appropriately loungy look and feel, and be warned, it gets LOUD. That added to the festive nature of the outing, however, so I didn't mind a bit - but on a romantic date? Not good. Just FYI.
The skinny on the dishes:
We had a bazillion martinis. Lots of interesting combos - including an "Where's my Effen Martini" that featured black cherry liquor and a splash of coke - but they just weren't mind-blowing. With "Martini" in the name, I was hoping for some crazy good concoctions. They were the weakest link in the food chain for the eve.
Standard fare here, just served with butter.
Ahi Tuna Bruschetta - weird. Not repulsive, but a bizarre mix. This consisted of rare, finally chopped tuna, tomatoes, parsley, and a few other herbs/veggies scooped onto toasted bread and smeared with a bit o' olive oil. It was OK. No descernable flavor, and I'm not fond of the mushy fish with toasted bread combo.
Grilled Octopus with Feta - OK, this was the standout homerun holy squid this is good stuff winner of the eve. The octopus was so fresh and tender it absolutelly melted on tongue-contact. The feta matched perfectly with a lemony, olivey zing that made my toes curl. My guest thought she hated octopus - it turns out she just doesn't like BAD octopus. Who knew. We both just freaked over this dish.
Crispy Duck with Black Cherry Vodka, Pomegranate, and Soy sauce - this was served with a serrano ham hash and yams. Can I say goddamn? Killer sauce. Duck was well cooked - large portion, and the yams were lip-smacking too. Spectacular dish. Not quite eye-popping ala the octopus, but super-lovely.
Salmon with Mangoes and Oranges - very spa-friendly. I wasn't crazy about the taste of the salmon - had a funky twang (perhaps caused by the too-sweet fruit), but this was just OK. My friend, who ordered the dish, really dug it, however, so maybe it's me.
No dessert - we were too busy drinking and flirting. Ahem.
Total for 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 7 martinis, before tip, was about $180. Pricey, yes, but did I mention how much we were DRINKING? Righto.
Nic's Martini Lounge
435 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills 90210
Cross street: Little Santa Monica
Next time, I gotta try the oysters - I hear they're famous for 'em.