Simple AND Satisfying

16 03 2011

Sometimes, the simplest food can be the most satisfying.  My experience at Nick and Nat’s / Uptown 21 was definitely that – and more.  My friend and I decided to try Nick and Nat’s only recently despite the fact that it has been on the uptown Waterloo restaurant scene for quite some time.  This is one of those places that I regret not going to earlier.  Not only did the pleasantry and professionalism of the experience endear us to the place, but the food really sealed the deal.

We arrived on a weeknight, rather late, looking for some good quality snacking.  At around 10:30 pm (yes, I was genuinely hungry at this time!) most restaurants tend to be in “shut down” mode.  Menu items are often unavailable or are not served as fresh as they could be, but Nick and Nat’s was busy for a random Tuesday.  The restaurant is quaint with only about 15 small wooden tables arranged within its rather narrow confines.  We were given a window seat, which was not very well insulated, so in order to warm up we promptly ordered some South American reds.  The waitress was pleasant and answered our myriad of questions about the menu as we found to be a little confusing.  Apparently, Nick and Nat’s had recently introduced a Prix Fixe menu – which is a good thing considering that the price of the food is a little on the steep side.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) we weren’t about to gorge ourselves in the late, late evening but wanted to order one of the items off the Prix Fixe.  We were told that it would not be a problem at all for us to order any item we wanted; this made us both very happy.  What we ended up with was a really great appetizer that paired beautifully with the wine, and an even more beautiful dessert.

Our wine arrived promptly and was served from a small decanter.  It was pretty good and, I must admit, at just the right temperature (I tend to like my red wine very chilled but it would have destroyed our appetizer).  We started with a cheese plate – this was a selection of one goat cheese, one cow’s milk cheese with a vegetable ash centre, and one blue cheese.  These three delectable “fromages” were served on a rectangular platter, each flanked by their own complimentary condiment.  The condiments were paired to match each cheese and consisted of pickled beets, lemongrass sticks and a fruit coulis.  The whole thing was served with some lightly toasted rye bread.  It was delicious and went oh-so-well with our wine.  In fact, we ate it all up much too quickly and contemplated ordering yet more cheese.  Alas, this was not to be as our dessert arrived shortly afterwards; we had ordered a tequila and chocolate parfait.  This culinary beauty arrived in a large, tall glass and was a perfect combination of dark-chocolate pudding layered with dollops of Patron-spiked whipped cream (heavily-spiked, mind you).   The juxtaposition of the rich, dark chocolate (which originated in Mexico) with the, metaphorically, lighter whipped cream tasting of tequila (also of Mexican origin) was brilliant.  This was served with a lightly sweetened puff-pastry twist which added just the right amount of crunch to the dish.  Thank goodness we shared both “snacks” since rich, ultra-creamy cheese and chocolate parfait is not what one should be eating so late at night!  Nick and Nat’s did not let us down.  The words in the menu were a direct reflection of the food we were served (which is often not the case), the service was good, and the place was pretty yet quaint.  Now to think of an excuse for a return visit to try that Prix Fixe menu…

The Milky Way

Perfect Parfait

A word about the setting: even though the place is small, we found it to be uncluttered and very clean.  A charming aspect of the restaurant is the fact that you can sort of see into the kitchen no matter where you are sitting in the restaurant.  The chefs looked like they were actually having fun back there and that is always a good thing – especially at 10:30 pm on a Tuesday.