Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nice Matin

Last week I headed into the city for some Halloween debauchery with my sister, her boyfriend, and some of their friends. It was destined to be a memorable night, and I even got to create another alter ego. Maya “Off-the-Hook” Rook—a tough, guidette bitch from the Jersey Shore. (Note to my readers: if you don’t have an alter ego I highly recommending getting at least one. I now have two, and they are both fabulous.)

But before hitting up the New York City nightlife scene, we had to eat. My sister treated me to a wonderful meal at Nice Matin, located at 201 West 79th Street. The menu was inspired by Chef Andy D’Amico and Simon Oren’s trip to Nice, France. The result? An excellent menu and lovely restaurant.

After we each ordered a glass of red wine, first up for the meal was the escargot, which was baked en cocotte with tomato fondue, garlic butter, and bread crumbs. The bread crumbs that topped the escargot were crunchy but quickly melted into a buttery, cheesy softness in the mouth. Each little dish had two snails rather than one, which is how I’ve usually had it. Bonus snails! It was a perfect appetizer—garlicky, buttery, warm, and succulent. 

I knew I needed real food. For the past week I’d had my nose to the grindstone with grad school work and I’d also run out of money, so basically I’d been living off of bread and pasta and vitamin supplements. Not cool. My body was craving vegetables and meat. It was an easy choice to order the soup du jour—butternut squash soup.

When I usually make butternut squash soup I do it as a puree, so I assumed that’s how it would be prepared here. Au contraire, mon ami. Instead, it was a hearty soup with large chunks of butternut squash, mushrooms, onions, and lentils, all simmered in a lovely chicken stock. With the first spoonful I felt my body start to revive. It was exactly what I needed—delicious, healthy, and satisfying.

Sonya ordered the spinach salad, which I partook of as well. Her plate brimmed with baby spinach, aged French goat cheese, roasted beets, pickled onions, hazelnuts, and nut oil vinaigrette. The spinach was fresh and green, the cheese was luscious and creamy, and those beets…wow. They were really incredible, like little cubes of ruby goodness sprinkled over the plate. I really need to start integrating beets into my own cooking. The salad was superb.

After my body replenished itself with the vegetable loveliness of the soup and salad, it was time to move on to meat. I ordered the Raviolis Nissarda—short rib ravioli flavored with orange and sage, red wine daube sauce, and parmesan. It was exquisite. Each ravioli was a pocket of hearty short rib decadence—the perfect balance between pasta and meat. I opted for the smaller order, and it was just the right size for me. I was able to enjoy every tasty bite without being too full.  

Instead of ordering dessert, we each ordered another glass of wine. That’s just how we do. I don’t think I could have eaten another bite, but if I go back I’d definitely want to try dessert—the menu looks phenomenal.

After the meal I was replenished with delicious food and good conversation with my sister. The sun had gone down and darkness was setting in over the city. It was Halloween weekend, and now I was ready for shit to get off the hook…

Nice Matin on Urbanspoon

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