Monday, July 30, 2012

Nix's Mate

Nix's Mate recently opened in the Financial District Hilton, replacing the forgettable Caliterra Bar and Grill. The former outdated space is rejuvenated by a 22 seat quartz bar, rustic walnut beams, pristine wood table tops and comfortable leather furniture. It's bright and sleek, with neutral earthy and gray tones, very of the moment. There's a minimalist touch with the decor points and a focused technique in the kitchen. Potted succulents, sepia toned photographs and stunning glass jar light fixtures accent gorgeous looking plates. Start with a Moscow Mule ($12) it's refreshing with a gingery kick served in a radiant copper mug; and then be sure to order the Fried Maine Lobster Caramel ($17). The sweet, fresh lobster meat - lightly crisped tail and claw play off the warm velvety caramel as it melts into creamy Vermont cheddar, highlighted with green onions and chilis. I'd love to know how the chef came up with this one, it's wildly creative.
I'm also particularly fond of the juicy, jam like blackberries in the Boston Bibb ($10) as they mingle with sturdy pecans, a creamy caramelized onion dressing and memorable cornbread croutons. Specials this evening also catch our eye, there's a large group of us and we're into trying a little of everything on the appetizers menu. Bacon Wrapped Scallop Skewers ($8) in maple butter come tightly wrapped and perfectly seared, dusted in fresh parsley. Fried Crab Cake Nuggets ($12) successfully accompany a summery salad of arugula, watermelon, roasted corn, thinly shaved beets, walnuts and a mustard aioli.  Both specials, I have a feeling, would do well on the regular menu. 
Spicy fried rock shrimp are an interesting match for salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, leeks and tomato gravy in The Harbor Island Flatbread ($14). Perhaps the cheese could have been more evenly dispersed and the crust slightly more firm and crispy, and while the rock shrimp on their own were good, they weren't very spicy as described. The Braised Veal Cheek "Pot au feu" ($14) is a mini interpretation of the classic French beef stew. I've never actually had pot au feu, regardless, the cheek was tender with a rich flavor thanks to the bone marrow broth, and baby roasted carrots and green beans brightened up the dish.
 Next, Polpete Vongole ($11) pairs tiny meatballs tossed in a red clam sauce with the briny clams themselves, overflowing from a large shell. Much like lobster and caramel, blackberry jam and bibb lettuce, ingredients are coupled that shouldn't work, yet do. I'm still not sold on fried shrimp and salami, though.  

Some members of my party who weren't particularly impressed with the appetizers would advocate desserts ($8 each) are what they're doing best. Cocktails aren't always on point, and the wine list doesn't offer much variety, but the final course nails it each and every time. From the Strawberry Shortcake with a duo of buttermilk accompaniments - the biscuit and the panna cotta, to a decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with olive oil, sea salt and Thacher farms cream, these creations are truly something special. The strawberry and vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches with chocolate and caramel sauces cascading down homemade cookies are not to be missed, and if your sweet tooth is raging, the Banana's Foster Bread Pudding with toasted marshmallow over homemade brioche should do the trick. 

Service was reliable, if not quiet and reserved, I have a feeling eight girls at a giant round table whipping out large cameras was somewhat intimidating! If nothing else, Nix's Mate is light years beyond its predecessor, it strives to impress with food that is inventive and approachable, and mostly succeeds.
Nix's Mate on Urbanspoon

18 comments:

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Even if not a complete home run, it sounds like Nix's Mate is doing some interested things with its menu. Blackberry jam on a bibb salad and watermelon and fried crab atop arugula sound particularly yummy to me!

Simply Life said...

you took great pictures -I can easily tell I am loving the ambiance here and would love to try this place!

Hogger and Co. said...

Funny about the giant cameras at the table. Arugula and Watermelon is one of my fave combos that we make at home.

Meghan said...

It was fun to see you! I really loved the ambiance at Nix's Mate.

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

The presentation of the dishes (and the photography) are stunning!

Elizabeth said...

Gorgeous photos! The lighting is fantastic. I seriously want that banana bread pudding NOW

Shannon said...

that salad looks intriguing, as does the lobster caramel! love the copper mugs, too :)

Lin @ BeantownEats said...

Great review. I agree, that lobster dish was so out-of-the-box I'd love to know how the Chef came up with the idea!

Michelle Collins said...

Ummm...caramel and lobster?! I need to try this.

Amber said...

the desserts look like they would make up for any disappointing cocktails or apps.

Megan said...

I thought this was such a great post, hitting the highs and perfectly capturing our evening. I'm sure we were a little intimidating.

Colleen @ Culinary Colleen said...

The words lobster and caramel in the same sentence jumped out at me! Need to try this.

Jennifurla said...

I certainly would like to try every last dish!

MOLLY GALLER said...

Nix's Mate is directly across the street from my office and we have happy hour there regularly. I love the ambiance. I always feel that photos never look as great as the object does in real life, but in your case, the photos make real life look even better than it does to the naked eye!

In and Around Town said...

Great photos! It was so much fun seeing you :)

Jen said...

Love that copper mug! It's so unusual, and it sounds like the drink is, too. And the bacon-wrapped scallops. So much yum.

Bonnie said...

ohmygosh, do not tease me with that dessert. I'm a freak for sweets!

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Sacha said...

These photos are gorgeous. You can tell from each and every dish the affinity for sweetness that the chef must have. It's incorporated in clever ways. Too bad they weren't all hits.