- Todd Mar 18, 2001 06:52 PM
Last night I dined at Nells. It has been a few months since I had last been there. It was fabulous. The first course was Sweetbreads with Risotto. This was the best preparation of sweetbreads that I have ever had. I also tried the Swordfish with Truffle Oil that was to die for. The Free Range Chicken was delicious and tender. The service was attentive and perfect. My only criticism would be the wine list. It was small and not very special. Otherwise, I give Nells a Five Star Rating!
Was taken to Nell's last week for my birthday. From appetizers to dessert it was excellent. We could easily have had two of the onion tart appetizers. I also like the mushroom base for the mahi-mahi. It was a standard there, but new to me as combination
The server was great, too. She said the calamari was just like the Saleh al Lago days, although we didn't try it.
Our only criticism was that they are a bit heavy handed with the salt. When I gently mentioned this to the chef (after complimenting everything), he was pretty defensive: "You must not cook with much salt at home." I replied that it was true, but I also eat out a lot. I do know the difference.
I would highly recommend Nell's. Just tell your server that you don't want any added salt (beyond what's already in the dish base or stock)!
Looking for great sweetbreads? Head over to Cafe Juanita. I think Nell's and CJ are two of the very best restaurants in the area. I know, it's the Eastside. Believe me, you'll thank me. BTW, the calamari is great at Nell's.
Todd, I understand your concern about Nell's wine list. They recently hosted a Bouchard tasting, so perhaps the list will be bolstered with some Burgundies soon (though if they are the recent vintage they may be young). I think Nell's and Szmania's features among the best Riesling by-the-glass selection of any restaurant in Seattle. Nell's wine list also features some excellent Northwest Reds (Quilceda Creek, Andrew Will Merlot and Cabs, etc.). The last time I dined there they also featured the Roda II, one of my favorite Rioja's of all time.
The single best dish I encountered at Nells was the onion tart with Jerusalem artichoke chips and hazelnut butter. Its a wowser! The pan-fried calamari and the sweetbreads with green olive risotto also got extremely high marks. The roasted duck breast was on the rare side of medium rare, as ordered, but was tough and chewy, with soft rather than crisp skin. (Does anyone cook duck better than the Chinese?) However, the kohlrabi and especially the wild ramps were well-prepared and intelligently chosen accompaniments to the duck. The cheese selection was limited but nicely varied, and the cheeses were in reasonable condition. An orange crepe with lemon cream and rhubarb compote was a lovely way to end the meal. Rhubarb is a litmus test for me, and the rhubarb compote here wasnt overly sweet, although I would have preferred even more tartness. All in all, a very enjoyable experience.