Yesterday was my wife’s birthday. To celebrate we ventured out for a nice dinner without the kids, something that doesn’t happen often enough. After discussing our options throughout the day, we settled on Nectar in Mt. Lookout. Despite the restaurants close proximity to our house, neither of us had ever been before. Nectar serves contemporary French Mediterranean seasonal cuisine using quality local and organic products when ever possible. Julie Francis, the chef and owner, changes the small menu regularly to reflect the best of the seasons.
Originally we planned to walk to dinner, but the evening rain forced us into the car for the short drive. Parking can be a bit challenging in Mt. Lookout square in the evening, but we found a metered spot after a couple of laps around the central parking area. Inside, Nectar is warm and inviting. Just one other table was occupied upon our arrival. We were asked if we’d like to sit near the windows or in the rear by the kitchen. I expected a larger crowd but can’t complain when we get our choice of seating.
We were delighted to find out that bottles of wine are half priced on Wednesdays! The wine list is short but offers a good variety of choices. We were most intrigued by the Cabernet Franc from Kinkead Ridge, which is in Ripley, Ohio just an hour east up the Ohio River. This full-bodied wine was delicious!
After placing our order, an amuse-bouche was delivered to our table compliments of the chef. I believe this was a fig chutney with duck confit and radish sprouts. Duck is not something that I eat often at all, so I just had a small bite of this. The base chutney was delicious and paired well with the saltiness of the somewhat dry duck. It gave an overall good impression of the flavor combinations that we would taste throughout our meal.
We ordered the Mediterranean Meze for a starter ($11.50) after hearing suggestions from our server. The sampler plate featured baba ganoush, black bean hummus, house falafel, pickled vegetables, salad, feta, harissa, and olive oil cracker bread. I started with the salad and really enjoyed it. The baba ganoush was perfect, especially with a little of the pickled flavor sneaking in from the vegetables that were served on top. The falafel was the best I’ve had in a long time, but was just a touch overcooked. The hummus was interesting with the black bean combination, but when topped with the somewhat spicy harissa and feta it was great. The olive oil cracker bread may not have looked like much but it too was excellent. An outstanding start to our meal.
For dinner I went with the Hill Farm roast chicken ($23) that is served over fingerling potatoes, bell pepper, garlic, red onion, and Andouille sausage. The chicken was perfectly cooked and flavored quite nicely. Potatoes dominated the mostly vegetable based bed and I wished that there was more of the sausage, which added a nice spice to the dish. With all of that said, I would definitely order this again, though next time I might try the gnocchi.
My wife had the achiote rubbed fish served with black bean quinoa salad and butternut squash purée ($24). Let me start by saying that both the black bean quinoa salad and butternut squash purée were awesome. The fish definitely took a back seat and I believe my wife agreed, as the only thing left on her plate at the end was a little bit of the fish. According to the menu for the night, the fish is typically corvina, but it was a different fish for our visit. I believe it to be sea bass or something similar.
We had a very pleasant first visit to Nectar and I think we will return sometime in the future. As the prices are a little higher than what we typically like to spend, we will most likely save it for special occasions.