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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nectar of the Gods

My Main Line excursions continue to expand...

On the recommendation of a colleague, whose food and dining opinions I greatly respect, I made a short trek eastward along Route 30 to the tony enclave of Berwyn, home to one of the increasing number of upscale, progressive restos in the area, Nectar (http://www.tastenectar.com/).

The food is decidedly Pan-Asian/Fusion, with the decor to match. Very impressive, from the outside-in. Contemporary furnishings, soaring ceilings, and ample seating at the bar, sushi bar, booths, tables, upstairs, and back deck. Almost ultra-mod, but the lighting and ambiance still gave it a welcoming vibe.

I arrived at 6:30 and the joint was jumpin already -- always a good sign.

Couldn't resist a sushi roll for starters, and I went with one of my faves: eel and avo. It arrived exactly the way I like it: warm from the toasty eel inside, with a healthy drizzle of eel sauce on top. Sweet, a tad salty, a bit sticky, a touch starchy... this is what I would take a picture of to describe that elusive Asian taste sense UMAMI (Editor's Note: Umami has been pretty widely popularized as "Savory," juxtaposed with the traditional other 4 tastes: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter)...

I ordered a fish dish for my main course, always cognizant of the fact that I still don't prepare as much fish at home as I should. My choice was the favorite of my waitress, who offered that endorsement only after I placed my order (she seemed genuine about it -- another good sign!).
Pan-seared wild striped bass, surrounded my a melange of oyster and shiitake mushrooms and asparagus, all delicately but generously coated in a French black truffle sauce. The fish was served skin-side up, and it was crisp and crunchy, a stark and welcome contrast to the moist, flaky flesh. My only issue was how to dive in. I would normally forsake the knife altogether with a fish dish, but the thickness of the skin made it a necessity, and when I did cut in, it reminded me of the classic slapstick routine of a rake to the face after stepping on its tines, a la Joe Pesci in "Home Alone." Picture it: I press down with my fork; the back end of the fish stands up at attention! Small price to sacrifice for the payoff: the presentation was beautiful, and was bested by the taste. So many flavor profiles at work here, what with the fish, the skin, the veggies, and the sauce. It was all put together in a very refined manner, yet the result was borderline decadent... atypical praise for a fish entree...
Another quality dining experience in this neck of the woods. Nectar is most definitely sophisticated, in style and in substance...

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