Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Nightshade Noodle Bar: Tasting Menu Delights

Nightshade Noodle Bar is one of my Top Three Favorite Restaurants in the Boston+ area. It's consistently excellent, with killer cuisine, an interesting drinks program, top-notch service, and a cool ambiance. It earns my highest recommendation (check out prior reviews) and I have encouraged numerous people to dine there, who also loved their own experiences there. Thus, when I was deciding where to have a celebratory dinner for my birthday, I chose Nightshade. 

For this visit, I opted for the Blind Tasting Menu option, where you simply choose the number of courses and then the Chef decides which dishes to serve you. You can suggest a course or two you would like included in the menu. The Tasting Menu options include 7 courses ($85), 9 courses ($110), 12 courses ($140), and 14 courses ($160). In addition, on Wednesday evenings, they offer a special 5 course menu ($50). For an additional fee, they can also create Custom Drink Pairings for your dinner.

This was my first time trying one of their Tasting Menus, and I chose the 9 course dinner, without the custom drink pairing as I decided to select my own wine. I also asked for the Dry-Aged Duck Breast to be included in my tasting menu. I was thoroughly impressed with my dining experience, greatly enjoying the various dishes, which presented a nice variety. Some of the dishes were presented in a single dish, to be shared with my dining companion, while others were presented in individual dishes, one for each of us. By the end of the evening, I was sated and very, very happy. A wonderful birthday celebration.

As I was there more for a celebration, I took photos but no notes, so I don't recall all of the specific details of each dish. Our server, who was personable, knowledgeable and attentive, did explain each and every dish. Some of the dishes were prepared fairly simply, while others were more complex, with a greater amount of ingredients, and each dish was well balanced, with both taste and texture. 

We started our dinner with a glass of a Brut Nature Cava, as all celebrations should begin with some bubbly. It was a very dry and flavorful Spanish sparkling wine, which ended up being a great choice for our initial food courses. 

We began our dinner with Caviar Service, with an eggspuma dip, garlic, and crisp potato chips. The caviar, slightly sweet and mildly briny, went nicely atop the creamy dip and the salty chips. There is some creme fraiche in the intriguing and tasty dip too. I liked the fun pairing of caviar with potato chips, rather than the usual blinis. 

The Second Course included more unique treasures from the sea, Percebes and Uni. The chilled Percebes, also known as gooseneck barnacles, commonly come from Spain and are very dangerous to harvest. They are found on rocky coasts, in dangerous surf, in Galicia and the fishermen risk their very lives to obtain them. Their shell almost looks like talon, and you simply need to twist off the shell to get the tubular meat inside. The meat is tender, lightly sweet and briny, a definite taste of the ocean, and they were served with a Vietnamese lime pepper dipping sauce. A delicious and unique treat. It's been a long time since I enjoyed percebes, so it was a pleasure to have them again. 

I've long been an Uni fan, so was also pleased to enjoy some again too, this time in the shell with some Thai basil. Creamy, salty, and tasty, the Uni also went very well with our bubbly. This duo, of Percebes and Uni, was one of my favorite dishes of the tasting menu. 

For the Third Course, we received Kabocha Squash Bot Chien, which is composed of Vietnamese rice cakes, crispy confit duck tongues, green chili sauce, duck egg, and pickled carrots & daikon. As I've said before, this is an intriguing and creative dish, which was a fine blend of textures and flavors, all meshing well together. The crispy duck tongues were a nice addition and unless you knew what they were, you probably never would have guessed that they were tongues. This is a fine example of a more complex dish, which is well balanced and works extremely well. 

The Fourth Course was Peach Bahn Mi, with green chili citrus butter and pickles, atop toasted bread. A nice treat, with some sweetness from the peach, a nice crunch from the toast, more crunch from the pickles, as well as good acidity balancing the sweetness. 

It was difficult to get a good photo of the Fifth Course, as it was deep down inside a a small cup. It was Dry-Aged Duck Breast with braised yuba, smoked pork broth, and a tamarind bbq sauce. The duck was exquisite, tender, moist and flavorful, and I could have easily devoured a much larger dish of the duck. What looked like thin, wide noodles was the yuba, dried tofu skin, which was a little dense and sopped up the broth and sauce well. Highly recommended.

The Sixth Course: The Homemade Egg Noodles, one of my favorite dishes on their menu, made with caramelized garlic sauce, peanuts, Thai basil, and chili crisp. A superb dish, with immense flavor, lots of umami, and a great balance of textures and flavors. I think I've eaten this dish every time I visited Nightshade, and I'm sure I'll eat it again many times to come.

Onto the Seventh Course: Amarena Cherry Claypot Caramel Foie Gras atop grilled coconut sticky rice. A decadent dish, with delightful textures, including the silky foie, and a nice blend of flavors, from the cherry to the coconut. 

As a palate cleaner, our Eighth Course was light and refreshing, although I can't recall exactly the components. Our Final Course, of which I didn't get a photo, was a small dish of Chocolate Mousse. a rich, creamy chocolate with a subtly complex taste with hints of citrus, dried fruit and spice and enhanced by a touch of sea salt. And there was a lit candle in my dish for my birthday. A nice little touch. 

During the course of the dinner, we drank a bottle of the 2018 La Tintorera “Kira-9” Rosado, a Spanish Rosé made from 95% Mencia and 5% Dona Blanca. It was fermented and aged in stainless steel. Delicious, dry, and full of bright red fruit flavors. Easy drinking and very food friendly, it went well with the various dishes we enjoyed. Great summer choice! 

If you haven't dined at Nightshade Noodle Bar then you should make reservations to do so soon. If you have been there before, why not visit them again? I'll also note that I made a brief stop at their new Sin City Superette, which is adjacent to the restaurant. The small shop has a wide variety of items, from basic essentials to Sushi, from fresh veggies/fruits to frozen meats, from cheeses and tortillas, and much more. You can get Nightshade's Chili Crisp! And earlier during the day, you can get freshly made sandwiches, such as cheeseburgers and special hotdogs. I need to return there to spend more time checking out everything they have for sale. 

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