Friday, January 10, 2014

Nic’s: What Every Restaurant Should Be

Nic’s in Beverly Hills is exactly what every restaurant in Los Angeles should be. With the perfect blend of daring elegance and creative combinations, this restaurant has captured the eclectic essence of LA and everything that defines it.  Bold, beautiful and curiously courageous, Nic’s knows how to take risks.  And the reward pays off.  Nic’s has created a refreshing juxtaposition, the perfect blend of funk and class, to show masterpieces are made when you have the courage to combine the unexpected.

Nic’s founded by Larry Nicola, has crafted an “urban cuisine where steaks and spa are equally at home.”  Nicola’s outside the box pairings of delectable diversity is inspired by his extensive travel and global culinary consultant work.  Additionally, his latest venture as the vodkateur has allowed him to spread his knowledge and exquisite taste to conduct special vodka tastings for private parties and/or events.  But Nicola’s heart extends further than the kitchen.  Active in the community Nicola donates his time and talent to AIDS benefits, Christmas dinners for the homeless, public television fundraisers, and working with diabetic children to demonstrate the benefits of good nutrition.  It’s the innovation of Nicola’s vision, his involvement with the experimental and his care for the community that transcends into everything Nic’s menu offers.  It is a restaurant of eye opening tastes, a place that puts every ounce of life into its efforts, making every detail delicious.

Walking into Nic’s, with its sixties inspired décor; you feel the buzz of an era that knew how to live it right.  Crystal chandeliers back dropped by shades of avocado and orange show that at Nic’s personality is just as important as presentation.  Nic’s crowd, a mix of après work Hollywood business types and young and glamorous trendsetters, sip martinis made from some of the most premiere vodkas offered in United States.  Patrons greet one another like old friends, and managers shake hands, announcing this place may be cool, but is never cold.  Edible Skinny visited Nic’s in December for an exquisite dining experience.

Nic’s, famous for its vodka selection and VODBOX, has arguably the most delicious and innovative martinis in LA.  Nic’s famous mixologist masters have concocted a list of cocktails that are elegantly inspired with an organic twist.  Every martini on their list has a personalized touch with a twist of surprise.  From their humorous names to unexpected ingredients, Nic’s libations create the perfect pre-dinner palate prep or luxurious way to unwind at the end of the day.  Martini’s like Nic’s "What A Nice Pear You Have" served with Grey Goose, Le Poire Vodka and fresh pear juice, showcase Nic’s innovation and boldness with the simple addition of shaved Parmesan to the rim.  Similarly their decadent drink "Coco Cabana" made with VuQo Vodka (Distilled from Coconut Nectar), Vita Coco, Coconut Milk, and Pomegranate Juice shows that when you take the risk to put something unexpected together, the results are delicious.  And Nic’s approach to food is equally as daringly delectable.

Nic’s has managed to tailor their dining experience to perfectly personalize the LA lifestyle.  Without overemphasizing the fact, the fare at Nic’s is full-flavor but also adapted for a health conscious crowd.  Nic’s offers bite-sized appetizers that enhance the palate without expanding the waistline.  Appetizers like Nic’s Oysters, which are served on top of sautéed spinach and walnuts, drizzled with a champagne cream sauce, dance between robust and refreshing.  The contrast of nuttiness and tang create a new twist on an old staple, tasting both youthful and established.  Perhaps one of the most delicious appetizers the Edible Skinny has ever sampled would be Nic’s Lobster Beignets with habanero nasturtium drizzle. These perfect pieces of paradise are stuffed with Maine Lobster, fried to golden perfection, and then rolled in sugar.  The combination of sweet, spicy and savory, unique and sophisticated, play so well on the duality incorporated throughout Nic’s menu.

However, it was until our salad course, that Nic’s completely blew us away.  Nic’s Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad with toasted Pistachio, Radish Sprouts, & White Balsamic is nothing short of edible art.  This dish exemplifies how Nic’s menu combines the unanticipated and extraordinary in a way that makes us wonder, “why haven’t we been doing this all along?” Using the unique blend of watermelon and goat cheese, Nic’s shows that creative doesn’t always have to be convoluted.  That taste is not defined by tradition.  This modern take, on an often uninspired course, leaves us wishing more restaurants were bold enough to ditch the lettuce and see where inspiration leads them.  For those looking for a more robust dish, Nic’s filet mignon paired with blueberry puree and crispy onion offers that sweet and savory combination that Nic’s seems to achieve so flawlessly.

Any visit to Nic’s wouldn’t be complete without steeping into the VODBOX.  The VODBOX is mecca for vodka enthusiasts.  Acting as a walk-in, drink-in exhibition freezer, this glass walled and stainless steel room offers hundred of the world’s most exclusive and fashionable vodka’s all the for the tasting.  Before entering the VODBOX, guests are provided with faux fur coats/hats (leopard or black).  Once patrons are escorted into the 28°F freezer, the vodka expert walks through the selection, redefining the limits of what you thought vodka should be. Vodkas like Pinky Holland combine hints of violet, rose, mango, and peppercorn for a sweet but spicy finish.  More traditional bottles like the Jewel of Russia Classic, made with wheat and rye showcase the sophistication of simplicity.  The great part of the VODBOX is that Nic’s offers something new without the commitments.  Flights or bottle service are offered with a complete history and highlights about the unique qualities of each label.

Nic’s is so much more than a restaurant or bar, is an education of all the things we’ve been missing.  Culinary creations that dare to be courageous and a list of exclusive vodkas that redefine elegance, show that there is still so much left to explore, but for now, Nic’s is the perfect place to start.

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