Nage -- RW (Jan 08)
I went with a friend tonight to Nage for Restaurant Week. Neither of us had been there before, but had a nice experience.
Normally I tend not to expect much from any restaurant in a hotel... a prejudice, I know. When I arrived at the door, this cold, slushy night, I was surprised to see a sign, "Due to the cold weather, please use the hotel entrance to your left." I *happily* walked the extra 20 feet. Any restaurant that knows to look out for these details to make their guests' dining experience better (no huge gusts of cold wind whenever anyone opens the door at MY table, please. kthxbai!) gets points in my book.
Firstly, the service was very pleasant, and that includes everyone from the gentleman at the door to the food runners, throughout the experience, and everyone seemed to go out of their way to say "thank you" to us as we were leaving. Very nice.
Given that it was RW, the meal did sort of go by quickly, but it didn't seem rushed while we were eating... I was surprised to look at the clock in the car on the way out and found we'd only been eating for about an hour. That said, I'm not full, as I write this, and I'm thinking about making myself a snack later. :)
Onto the food... I started with the Duck Confit, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Strudel with a Butternut Squash Puree. It was a toss-up between that and the Spiced Sweet Potato and Shrimp Soup with Candied Pecans and Crispy Serrano Ham, so I asked our server and she said to definitely get the duck, that everyone's been raving about it. So I did. It was very nicely presented, and it was pleasant, although I don't think I'd rave about it. I'm guessing the duck, mushroom, and cheese all sort of melded together, because I didn't get individual flavors. Nice, though. My friend got the Mixed Greens salad, which he said was only okay.
Entrees... I had the Wild Rockfish Marsala with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Fava Beans, and Purple Peruvian Potatoes and my friend had Vanilla Seared Scallops with Mustard Seed Toffee over Pancetta Sage Risotto and a Parsnip Puree. The rockfish was prepared excellently. Nice flavor, perfectly done, crispy skin. Very nice indeed. The vegetables were a medley and offered nice color... with the exception of the potatoes. I really could have done without those. They were mashed in a mound holding up one end of the fish, and really kind of detracted. They had a bean-like consistency which I didn't care for. The scallops were nicely done, large scallops, translucent in the center. The vanilla flavor was termed "unique," but I thought it was subtle enough to not throw off the taste of the scallop.
For dessert, we both were very much looking forward to, and got, the enticingly-named Sticky Gingerbread with Blue Cheese Pear Ice Cream and Chardonnay Pear Sauce. The flavors worked very well together, in my opinion. My friend said that he'd probably get it again, but was thrown by the concept of a blue cheese ice cream. We both thought that the gingerbread was distinctly NOT sticky, and was instead rather dry, which was a little disappointing. The size was also a surprise... it was quite small indeed.
I'm sure that if I'd had lunch I'd have thought the food portions were perfectly fine... I didn't know what to expect going there, though, so I had only a small snack for lunch and was rather hungry.
Again, overall it was a nice experience, and I would go to Nage again to try it on a non-RW night. The service really helped put it in the + column for us. :)
It's funny that you mention the hotel restaurants - DC's such an odd duck, we have so many good restaurants in hotels! Citronelle, Corduroy, Cityzen, the former Maestro...
The food definitely sounds unique, but does it suffer from the "too much stuff on the plate" syndrome? I generally dislike it when chefs just start piling on flavors - a lot of times they do it to mask less than great ingredients.
I was wondering the same thing. I've looked at their menu often and have always wondered if it's just "too much stuff" on the plate. I've always been curious whether or not the flavors work or if they are trying to put to many "trends" on a plate etc. Lately I've been a litte more impressed with the "simplify" strategy (Hook etc) but Nage is close to my apt and I've always been curious about it.
It does get close to that for me... the plates were all visually appealing, but there was a lot going on there. One thing I didn't mention about the rockfish is that it had these spiky crispy-fried slivers of, one assumes, scallions on top. It made for nice presentation, but the net effect of eating them with the rockfish was that I kept thinking I had a fish bone in my mouth and had to chew very carefully. Turned out there were no bones at all in the piece I was served... but I think the chef should choose a different topping for the fish if he or she thinks it needed one at all.
The base ingredients were certainly fine... the rockfish and the scallops were both very nice, and I feel that the flavors of the fish came through overall. I'd give them a try. :)