Saturday, August 04, 2007

Nasu Blanca (Baltimore Restaurant Week)

Yes guys, I am writing about it just like you said I would :)

Nasu Blanca has to be one of the best places I have eaten in a long time. Two friends and I went last night and found that out. It's a little - okay, more than a little - out of my price range for me to become a regular customer, but they are hoping to make it more often. Hell, so am I. I just might have to wait for the next Restaurant Week, though.

The place was packed last night, and our server, in kistchy pearls and a fun black dress, noted that it has been like this all week. And they all had three entrées and three appetizers from which to choose (and the same dessert; see the menu for yourself). Because there were three of us, we were in the unique position of being able to sample everything, by each of us ordering a different appetizer and entrée. They also had a special outside of the BRW menu: tempura-battered squash blossoms. Sounds scrumptious, but I'll try it next time.

Our waitress/sommelieuse noted that, for an extra $15, we could get wine pairings for each course, in the form of red/white wine or sake. The guys opted for the wine pairings. I stuck with with cheaper option, so I have no clue what wines were drunk or how they paired with the food. Instead, I just stuck with a tall, cool glass of Sapporo for $5. Nice, crisp and clean beer that Sapporo is.

We each tried every appetizer. They went as follows:

  • Japanese eggplant in den miso sauce - Out of all the appetizers, this is the one I liked the most. Very sweet and dense. And I hate eggplant. Hate it. So this was something.
  • Prince Edward mussels in a sofrito-sherry broth - This was my appetizer. We all loved these. It's difficult to do mussels poorly. Good thing they didn't! And they came with crusty toasted bread to sop the broth up with.
  • Mixed greens with katafi and ginger dressing - It was good, though I am usually not wow'd by salads. Not this one either. But I liked the addition of the katafi (or kataifi - shredded phyllo, or the rich Greek dessert of the same name that's made of the stuff). In this salad, however, the katafi was not at all sweetened. Instead, it added a nice crunch.
As good as all that was, the entrées were in a different league altogether:
  • Paella valenciana with chorizo, chicken, mussels and saffron rice - Tasty if at first mushy paella. But my friends liked the texture. I don't know why it seemed a little mushy to me. Not to them. I got over that quickly. It was some tasty rice, to be honest, and not that mushy as I got into it. I guess that sounds a little confused. Let me rephrase: Yes, I would indeed recommend it to you if you went there.
  • Panko-crusted walu with sweet potato slices and butter ponzu sauce - I have never eaten walu, which is a firm and flavorful fish. Very tasty. It looked small but was very filling. The sauce and sweet potatoes were also wonderful. Even the throw-away greens on top and underneath were delicious. Normally, this dish costs $28! So this was an excellent deal. This was my entrée, by the way, though we all had our ways with each.
  • Strip steak with pimenton dusted fingerling potatoes, cabrales butter and tempranillo wine reduction - This was my favorite entrée - in fact, my favorite of everything I ate during Restaurant Week, even the steak at Petit Louis (which is a close second). My friend ordered it medium rare. He says you can tell a great deal about the quality of a restaurant by how they prepare your steak. If you ask for it medium rare, it needs to come out medium rare. It did here. Blissful steak.
We all had the same dessert, a white chocolate banana bread pudding with caramel and toasted walnuts strewn artfully across our gleaming white, square dishes, and all with a small dollop of cream on top. Tasty dessert, very rich, though it runs a close second to Petit Louis' mousse. It's still delicious. I could eat it all day.

All throughout this dinner we had such attentive service. The entrées came out immediately after the appetizers were done. And the waitress, wanting to make sure that my friends had their respective wines before each dish came out, hurried out their wines before each course came out. That is some good service.

The grand total before tip came to $145. This included our three prix fixe menus ($30 each), the wine pairings ($15 each), the Sapporo ($5) and two basil julep cocktails (you do the math). They included basil and shiso, the Japanese leafy herb which you usually find on any plate of sashimi. It tastes sort of peppery.

Nasu Blanca, in short, was the perfect way to end my Restaurant Week (yes, it's over for me; I have a trip to save for, y'know). It also has to be one of the best dining experiences I have had in a long time. Do go if you have the money. Save up first, but go, at some point go!


Fairfax said...

They do a happy hour during the week that is significantly less expensive. Glad you got there. We loved it, too!

Julie said...

That was one of the places I wanted to try. I'm putting it on my list for next Restaurant Week.

I didn't do as well as you and Fairfax at going to restaurants; I only made it to one restaurant for Restaurant Week. Of course, one is better than my previous Restaurant Weeks where I managed to forget it was Restaurant Week.

We went to Timothy Dean's Bistro and the food was awesome. The service is not particularly polished but I'd definitely (happily!) go there again.

I can't wait for Restaurant Week to roll around again.

Catherinette Singleton said...

Hey, do they have a bar there? My girlfriends and I were planning on grabbing some cocktails, and want to make sure that we don't get kicked out for only wanting adult libations.

John said...

There was a bar downstairs, I think. We were ushered upstairs pretty quickly but yeah, I do remember a bar.