Whoaaaaa it’s been a hot second. The one bright spot for me in a very very dark time has been getting takeout from restaurants where we were never able to get a reservation before. Also tacos. Lots and lots of tacos. But I’m not here to talk about takeout food, I’m here to discuss our fifth (!!!) anniversary dinner at Nina May, which is no longer requiring a deposit to make reservations.
Because it was our anniversary and we’d ordinarily be doing the tasting at Komi (can you hear me weeping in the background?), we decided to do the chef’s dinner. At $70 for two, how could we pass up? But first, cocktails:
From Oaxaca With Love (left) was the perfect selection for my mezcal-loving spouse (and mezcal-loving me). It is smoky and bitter and just a tiny bit sweet. On the right is Heat From Mexico. Our server warned us that it was a little bit spicy but I’m going to categorize it as “grandma spicy.” It was super tart and refreshing and in 90 degree heat, it disappeared very quickly.
The first course included three veggie-forward plates:
Tomato carpaccio: This is a lot of tomatoes. And pretty much just that. It’s hard to tell, but this plate was the size of a large pizza. Tomatoes are delicious, especially when you’re sitting on a hot patio in July, but yeah. Big plate of tomatoes and Nina May’s favorite accessory–a very large fork. I’d be impressed by this if I was served it at someone’s house party, but mostly just because it looked so beautiful.
Grilled squash was again something fairly simple that they managed to dress up. The yogurt sauce was delicious and there was a good char on the squash. There was a tiny bite of smoked trout on each of the squash halves, which felt like a bit of a cop-out, except that it was extremely salty (even for smoked fish), so only a tiny bite was necessary. Note the presence of yet another oversized fork.
The crown of the first course belongs, bizarrely, to a salad. Crispy potatoes, huge smoky lardons, pungent-but-not-overpowering mustard dressing, and an awesome poached egg. It’s like brunch in salad form. Om nom nom. So anyway, we were full after this course. “No big deal,” I said. “We just have the meat left.”
LOL, wrong! The prime rib course also came with a tomato, mushroom, and leek flatbread. This time, it was only the size of a medium pizza.
Okay, yeah, it was super delicious. The crust was still pretty chewy. Roasty tomatoes, hearty mushrooms. My only complaint was this was way too much food.
Here’s the prime rib. It was smoky and peppery in the crust but had a few too-chewy bites. The charred broccoli and scallions were excellent. The fork was, once again, quite large.
And finally, dessert. The white chocolate chip brownie had a great, chewy-fudgy brownie texture that I, a middle brownie preferrer, enjoyed. The mascarpone cream on top was light, maybe too light, but the cherries were sweet, tart, and juicy. Note: this picture would have looked better if I had taken it before we ate half the brownie. Like I said, it’s been a while.
Price: $70 per person (after two rounds of cocktails).
Bottom line: I very much appreciated how vegetable-forward this dinner was. Restaurants in general, but especially fancy tasting menu places, NEVER serve enough vegetables. Nothing pisses me off faster than getting five green beans on my plate. Nina May doesn’t skimp on veggies and their cocktails are divine. You will also struggle to get this much food for $70 anywhere except, like, Denny’s. I don’t recommend attempting that. My favorite restaurant ever? No. But worth a pass, especially now that reservations are free.