When giving a restaurant a 5, I ask myself, did it create a food memory? Was the meal I ate, in the atmosphere I ate it, with the company surrounding me memorable? The answer for Nectar was a resounding yes. I’ll be up front in saying I have a friend that works there and he recommended we come in before I left for Los Angeles, but don’t let that hinder my review, he wasn’t even there.
Let us begin with the service, our server was cordial and extremely knowledgeable. I asked her what were some of the things she liked, and she proceeded to walk us through most all of the menu. She was helpful and not insistent, she also checked up on us quite often to see if everything was alright. Her service built the foundation for the meal that was to come; we started out with the edamame dumplings, they were a delicious soft interior texture with a supple exterior and delicious butter shallot thyme sauce with asparagus tossed with well caramelized chanterelle mushrooms.
Next we got the cheese plate. If you know anything about me, you know that I work in cheese, so I’m always excited to eat local cheeses, and I was filled with mirth with the cheeses. My absolute favorite was the Nutcracker cheese from Yellow Springs Farm, it was soft and the goat flavor was lightly caressed by the nutty floral flavors of the spent walnut flowers it’s aged in. The cheese plate was accompanied by pickled carrots and radishes that operated as great palate cleansers and a spicy little loaf of bread that I ate as a side between bites, choosing instead to just eat the cheeses by themselves. If I were pressed to pick a second favorite it would easily be the Blue from Birchrun Hills Farms.
I got one singular a la carte tuna nigiri just to test the sushi waters. This is the only place I wasn’t 100% impressed, but mind you I’m extremely brutally harshly horrible when it comes to sushi, especially the rice. And while the rice itself was cooked perfectly, it had cooled to below room temperature, though you could tell it was cooked well because it still retained its shape and it didn’t lose tenderness, but it lost the vineger/sugar flavor that’s only pronounced at room temperature. The fish itself was cut well and the nigiri was formed well also, my only beef was with the rice, and it wasn’t earth shattering, but I’m honest so that’s what I’ll be.
After that my dad got the tempura lobster and braised short rib with fried potatoes an arugula salad and a thai chili hollandaise. My mom got the pan seared scallops with a black truffle risotto that had roasted mushrooms. I went with the pan seared striped bass with black truffle sauce over mushrooms and asparagus. I didn’t get to try the lobster because it was obviously that good that my dad couldn’t part with a singular bite, but he was able to share one of his potatoes, and it was one of the best potatoes I’ve eaten in a restaurant. It was the epitome of a mashed potato inside with a crunchy exterior, and the hollandaise really made it shine. The braised short rib was a hearty portion and you know what? I tasted like short rib, which really made my day. I’m tired of restaurants that braise their short ribs forever in some flavorful liquid that just over powers the natural meat flavor that you want in such a rich piece of meat. The scallop was unreal, seared on the outside, buttery and melty on the inside complimented with one of the best risottos I’ve had. It wasn’t mush, and it wasn’t dry, it was balanced and the rice itself was borderline al dente which made you want to take the next bite. The striped bass was sumptuous, I thought a few days earlier that I’d had the best fish of my life in Annapolis with a perfectly grilled rockfish, but I was wrong. This striped bass was meaty, buttery, tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned, and the crusty skin was unmatchable. I could eat bass skin all day, everyday if that’s how it’s prepared, and when you rubbed the meat of the fish in the black truffle sauce it took on the flavor of lobster, somehow elevating it even higher.
After the entrees we moved on to dessert, my parents shared the chocolate torte and I got the creme brulee with bread pudding. The chocolate torte was all things decadent, with a chocolate on chocolate with chocolate and a side of chocolate approach that I normally don’t fall for, but I can’t deny how good it was. Especially the blood orange sauce surrounding the torte, it was the best consistency of any dessert sauce I’ve encountered. I feel like some people would say that it was too light or watery, but I know I’m going to dream of it tonight because it cut the richness of the torte perfectly, really well executed. The bread pudding was great, well cooked, soft, sweet, and paired well with a pecan brittle and herbed cranberry sauce that allowed for contrasting bites. I loved the brittle, being someone that lived in Georgia for several years I’m always impressed by a brittle that doesn’t stick to your teeth. A good brittle should break up when chewed, turn toffee like in the indents of your molars and slowly melt like butter over a minute long period. That is the ideal brittle, and this was on the mark. As for the creme brulee, it was something new, a kabocha custard was something I never would have thought of in a million years, and it gave the custard a definitively new texture that was unfamiliar, but welcomed. I loved it.
Overall, it was great meal, start to finish, no exceptions. The decor is innovative and has enough going on to maintain your interest, the service was great, the food was beyond exceptional, and the experience was memorable. I don’t know if I’ll be able to have tempura without thinking of my dad housing his down, or scallops without thinking of my mom. It was a really one of a kind dinner and I want to extend a thank you to everyone at Nectar for sending me back to LA in style!