Last Friday, Catherine and I went out to dinner at Nectar, in Moscow. Located on Sixth Ave between Jackson and Main, Nectar labels itself as a Restaurant and Wine Bar. Having dined there, I suspect I'd only be returning for the wine bar.
Now, this isn't to say that the food wasn't good. It was. Just, as a restaurant, I wasn't horribly impressed.
We showed up for our reservation, only to have it revealed that our reservation, which I'd made a week prior, wasn't on the books. This was mildly annoying, but the restaurant did manage to get us seated within about twenty minutes or so, which was fine given that we were able to get drinks for the interim.
This does reveal one of the biggest problems I found with the restaurant. The layout is weird. The bar and the kitchen sit in the center, but the tables are spread out across a series of narrow hallways. This was a bit awkward before we had a table, since we'd had nowhere to sit. The greeter confided that they'd had our situation happen with several other tables, so there was a bit of a crowd in the waiting area.
By the time we got a table, we were ready to order, so we did. Our appetizers were a small bowl of their Macaroni and Cheese, and a plate with several different kinds of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and some homemade fennel crackers. The crackers had a bit more fennel than I might have liked, but the salamis and cheese more than made up for it. Catherine even loved the olives, and she generally dislikes them. Though, I suppose these olives were far more mild than most grocery store olives. The macaroni and cheese was excellent as well. The cheese sauce consisted of Cougar Gold, Gruyère, and Parmesan. The Gruyère did an excellent job of reducing the sharpness of the Cougar Gold, and the macaroni and cheese had an amazing flavor. While it was available in an entree size, it was so rich, I'm glad we only got it as an appetizer.
For our entrees, Catherine ordered a Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf with a Chipotle glaze served with baby carrots and mashed potatoes, while I had a white truffle pasta served with a poached egg on top. The meatloaf was excellent, aside from the fact that the bacon was completely unnecessary. It completely disappeared behind the Chipotle glaze, and was a bit too gristly anyway. The carrots were well cooked, and the potatoes had just the right amount of seasoning (including some garlic and horseradish). My pasta was perfectly prepared, the sauce, particularly after breaking apart the egg (whose yolk was beautifully orange), was deliciously creamy, with again a perfect amount of seasoning.
The wine, since such a thing must be discussed at a wine bar, was also an excellent experience. I had a glass of a Chilean red wine, and a flight of Alsatian White Wines, including the best Riesling I've ever had (a 2007 Trimbach), it being dry instead of ridiculously sweet like many Rieslings are. The only wine we tried that night that I didn't like, was the 2006 Hugel et Fils Gentil Hugel Blend, which had a distinct over-aged goat-cheese flavor right in the middle. I'm sure somebody will love that wine. I'm not that somebody.
So, given that we loved the food and wine so much, why am I not liable to return? Well, the price is one reason. After tip, we paid just shy of $100 for the meal, and for that money, I've had a far better dining experience. One that didn't feel as cramped. One where I felt that my service was better than just passable. However, I would gladly go back for a few glasses of wine, and an appetizer. I just feel that experience would be more worthwhile than the full dining experience.