Monday, May 30, 2011

Nic's Beverly Hills

Moscow Mule

I'm not sure how it started, but a few months ago, several LA bloggers, including myself started tweeting about our love of whole grains. The nickname Quinoa Club was born and every so often, we tweet random quinoa facts to each other. Recently, it was brought to our attention that Nic's in Beverly Hills was now carrying quinoa vodka. We had to check it out. A couple of Friday nights ago, I joined H.C. for a vodka and culinary journey.

It had been approximately eight years since I last visited Nic's even though I worked down the street from there for years. Since we were both running on empty, we decided to share a few appetizers before indulging in the Vodbox (more later).

I love olives, and I think I hogged most of them on the Spanish platter that also came with Pata Cabre, Manchego, and Serrano ham. The herbed bread was a perfect accompaniment.

Spain Platter: Pata Cabre, Manchego, Serrano Ham and Spanish Olives

Nic's oysters sauteed with walnuts and garlic ("very famous" according to the menu). These were indulgent and flavorful, tasting of the sea.

Nic’s Oysters, Sautéed with Walnuts and Garlic

The roasted beet salad arrived surprisingly cold, but the beets had great flavor with the tangy feta and vinaigrette.

Roasted Beets in Paupilotte with Feta + Zinfandel Vinaigrette

After we'd lined our stomachs, we were ready for the Vodbox. On the side of the restaurant is a specially designed room kept at a frigid 28 degrees for tasting all sorts of interesting vodkas. Of course you can't go into a cold room like that with whatever clothes we wear for the perpetual sunshine in southern California so Nic's kindly provides guests of the Vodbox with faux fur jackets and hats to keep you toasty inside the box.

HC in Pimp Gear at Nic's

HC and Esi inside the Vodbox at Nic's

Vodkas from all over the world.

Vodbox at Nic's

Vodbox at Nic's

I normally prefer vodka in cocktails for it's tastelessness to highlight the flavors of fresh juices that I mix it with, but my eyes were opened in this experience. Our favorite, and apparently one of the more popular offerings was the Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka. Described as "Christmas in a bottle", it had hints of cinnamon and pumpkin and made quite an elegant presentation in the bottle with a single sprig of bison grass. They were out of the quinoa vodka because it is quite popular, but Fair also makes a Goji liqueur that we were able to try. Normally, I'm not a fan of goji berries, but this was smooth and flavorful.

Fair Goji Liqueur

After the vodka we needed some food to soak it up. By this point I was ready to switch from the hard alcohol and thankfully Nic's has a good wine list. A glass of Cabernet and a glass of Riesling accompanied each of our entrees. The fillet mignon was unfortunately not my favorite dish. I found the blueberry sauce to be a bit too sweet and the crispy onion rings were pretty flavorless. I'm sure the whole dish could have been improved on with just a bit more salt.

Pan-Seared Fillet Mignon with Blueberries and Crispy Onions

Fortunately the halibut special was much better. The wasabi cream was not too overpowering and the pea shoot slaw kept things fresh.

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Wasabi Cream and Pea Shoot Slaw

After all that food and vodka, dessert was the last thing on my mind, but we managed to share a rhubarb tart. It was light and sweet with just a hint of rhubarb's signature tartness.

Rhubarb Meringue Tart

Nic's is great for a low key night out with friends. One of my friends recently celebrated her bachelorette party during one of their jazz nights on a Saturday and I'm told it was amazing (I was out of town). I'm definitely going to suggest it as an option when dining out with friends who work in the area so hopefully now I'll visit more than once every eight years.

*All food and drinks were comped. Opinions are my own

Nic's Beverly Hills
453 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 550-5707

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vanillasugarblog said...

oh esi i love this!
wish we could have seen you in the fur coat.
those oysters sound so good; really kicked up.

Erica said...

I love that you get all of these meals comped! That is SO cool. Nic's seems like a cool spot. The whole vodka tasting experience is very neat! And I love the apps you started with- a little of this and that is always my favorite

marla said...

You get to go to the best places! Nic's sounds like fun!

Joanne said...

Wow...all that vodka. What a fun tasting!

And that halibut...the wasabi cream...sounds so delicious!

Lucy Lean said...

You should invite Ryan Seacrest into your Quinoa group 0 he's a fan although is worried it might make him appear girly!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

oh man i haven't been to nic's in so long! the vodka lounge actually sounds cool and i'm not a huge fan of vodka.

M. said...

jazz and oysters...this looks like my kind of place :)

Banana Wonder said...

I recognize that guy ;-) Looks like too much fun!

Diana said...

I don't even know where to start in responding to this post. Quinoa Club? Those amazing outfits? Your inexplicable love of olives?

It's too much.

Take me with you next time. ;)

Kelly@ sass & veracity said...

That was quite the crawl! And comped, too? Very nice. The food sounds great -- especially the roasted beet package. Maybe it was supposed to be cold? There's an ice bar in Mandalay Bay in Vegas that has those big fur coats for tasters to don. Pretty cool -- literally! I'm not seeing some of the photos. Maybe they're just not loading for me.