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Nina May - Chef Colin McClimans' and GM Danilo Simic's Local and Sustainable Modern American, Logan Circle


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End of staycation = eating out.

Eating out + pandemic = eating outdoors

Outdoors + summer in DC = hot & muggy

Hot & muggy outdoors requires shade + refreshing food

All that led us to Nina May last night (Wed 7/8/20).

Nina May has plenty of outdoor seating, with ground floor tables and covered rooftop tables.  We sat on the covered rooftop and a large oscillating fan kept us from burning up.

To start, we ordered 2 Little Neck Clams with Wild Watercress (shaved radishes, herb butter, chard tomatoes) and Spring Onion Focaccia (with pickled pickled ramps and whipped ricotta).  So each clam order came with 1 slice of foccacia.  So we really didn't need a separate order of focaccia, but we didn't know just from reading the menu.  The clams were fabulous even if a little on the salty side, especially with the herbs.  They's gone in 60 seconds.  The focaccia themselves were okay -  I wouldn't order them again by themselves.

Next we had 2 salads from their vegetables selection.  Maryland Cherry Salad with Fresh Arugula (toasted almonds, marinated cucumber, balsamic vinaigrette) and Bob’s Grilled Romaine Lettuce with Shaved Parmesan (cured egg yolk, herb focaccia croutons, anchovy vinaigrette).  I really liked the former, was ambivalent about the latter.  I never thought cherries would go well with arugula, but the vinaigrette balanced both out.  The grilled romaine had that charred taste which was not my favorite.

To make sure we leave stuffed and happy, we finished with Prosciutto Wrapped Rabbit Porchetta (rabbit sausage, fava bean salad, mustard vinaigrette) and Ramp and Ricotta Agnolotti with Spring Lamb (fava beans, forest mushrooms, crispy shallots).  Both were excellent.  The rabbit being rabbit looked a bit dry but had great flavor.  The agnolotti were al dente.  Both were served with lots of delicious veggies so we probably could've just skipped the salads.  We'll know better next time.

Even the kids didn't want dessert after that pig-out. 

P.S.  I don't want to get sick but I still want to eat some great food.  Eating outdoors is my compromise.  I can heartily recommend St. Anselm, Albi, Cranes and Nina May.

 

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Went back to Nina May because the clams were so good last time.

Started with a new dish on the menu - Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Hushpuppies with DIY smoked remoulade.  The hushpuppies were excellent (soft and moist), although I'm not sure there were sufficient amount of crab meat in there to be distinguishable.  There were dabs of mayo and ketchup and other herbs to make your own dipping sauce.  They gave us some complimentary biscuits that were good but we really didn't need more carbs.  The last starter was the excellent Maryland Soft Shell Crab with corn relish, blueberry mustard, pea tendrils.

Our second course were 2 orders of clams.  This time, they used a red sauce as opposed to the white sauce we had last time.  They really undersalted the dish and then charred the focaccia so I didn't quite enjoy them as much.

Lastly, the Rabbit Porchetta (same as last time, and just as delicious) and Fettuccine with Tomato and Green Garlic extra virgin olive oil, basil, garlic chips.  The fettuccine was very garlicky and I think the pasta, while al dente, may not have been handmade in house.  Nevertheless, it's a tasty dish.  

We went early (had 5:30 reservation).  It was hot and not many people were there.  I hope more people go out to eat later in the evening, otherwise we won't have any fine dining restaurants left after the pandemic ends.

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Another visit to try some old and new dishes.

The old - clams

The new, quail and cavatelli with rabbit leg confit.

This was my third visit, and they gave me a little amuse of one bite gyro, and they comped me a glass of Simonet Blanc de Blancs.  I thought the pasta dish was pretty amazing, the quail pretty tasty, and the clams plentiful.  

The neighborhood continues to be sparsely trafficked so sitting on the patio with large fans was fairly enjoyable even in the summer heat.

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We did the chef's choice takeout at Nina May a few weeks ago and we LOVED it. Everything survived the 20 minute walk home and another hour or so of sitting on the counter because we weren't hungry yet. 

When I got there, around 6:15pm on a Friday, the patio was pretty full and there were three other to-go orders getting taken out. Hope they continue the good things and can stick it out through these COVID times.

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The Chef's Choice looked so good that we ate outside notwithstanding it was only 40 degrees at best today.

We were seated at the upstairs patio (early 5:30 reservation gets the sheltered tables) that is mostly protected from wind by clear plastic tarp.  There were overhead heaters that imparted some warmth.  Be sure to dress very warmly!

For $70, we got the following:

Winter Citrus + Red Beet Salad crispy salsifi, shaved radish, lemon vinaigrette.

Charred Onion + Braised Lamb in Pita Bread pickled cabbage, cilantro yogurt, kimchi brussel sprouts

Cacio Pepe Agnolotti of Carmelized Onion and Ricotta Cheese parmesan reggiano, toasted black pepper, fennel fronds

Little Neck Clams with XO Sauce salsa verde, shaved radishes, braised leeks

Red Wine Braised Chicken parsley gremolata, creamy polenta, smoked mushroom jus

Chocolate Layer Cake caramel buttercream, cocoa nib tuile, bourbon caramel 

We ordered extra clams because we love clams.  The chef must love clams as well since they are almost always on the menu.  They did not disappoint - in fact there were 3 winners tonight, the clams, the lamb, and the agnolotti.  We might order just those 3 items next time. 

Soon after we sat down, we received the salad, the lamb/pita and an order of clams.  The lamb was moist and flavorful - wish there was more of it.  The clams were obviously fresh - the only thing we missed was bread to sop up the sauce with.  The salad was refreshing - I'm sure my body will thank me later for eating veggies.

Our second round consisted of the pasta and another order of clams.  I only got 2 agnolotti while the kids fought over the plate.  

Lastly came the chicken.  I gave the kids the dark meat (drumstick and thigh) while I ate the breast.  The breast was a bit bland and dry but the kids praised the dark meat and even asked for some breast meat.  They even ate some of the creamy polenta.

For dessert, we were comped a chocolate mousse, in addition to the chocolate layer cake which was a part of the prix fixe.  The cake had a distinct bourbon taste which turned off the kids so they attacked the mousse.

Next time, we'll probably just double up on the 3 winners.

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