1091 Lancaster Ave.
Rating: 4 Silver Spoons out of 5
Overview: Big, bold, (think Philadelphia’s Steven Starr) Asian Fusion comes to the Main Line. Nectar, a large, stone, $5 million dollar palace, rises out of nowhere just after passing through Berwyn (traveling West) on Lancaster Ave. Chef Patrick Feury (who opened the spot with Michael Wei of Yang Ming and Scott Morrison of Basil/Tango) succeeds in providing a quality, city-style fine-dining experience to the area with creative, delicious cuisine.
Food: Although Nectar features a traditional sushi bar, the rest of the menu is far more creative. Lamb skewers sit atop a fried goat cheese salad, providing a nice contrast. Spring rolls come filled with duck and mushrooms with a sweet, flavorful sauce. While somewhat ordinary in style, the pork dumplings are top notch, crispy on the outside and succulent within.
Feury’s entrees take the cuisine to the next level. A venison tenderloin was expertly charred on the outside and a perfect medium rare within. The plate was completed with a variety of complimentary flavors — grilled winter vegetables, chestnut puree and a mustard and beet salad. Poached lobster and grilled scallops served together were delicate but tasty. The only slight of the evening was the arctic char — tea smoked before being grilled — which was a bit too smoky for my taste. However, the plate again dazzled, featuring a parsnip puree and a pinot noir sage sauce.
The stars of the dessert menu — warm mini donuts — make a trip to Nectar worthwhile all on their own. A dozen tiny, warm cinnamon-sugar coated beignets come with three stellar dipping sauces: chipolte-chocolate, espresso anglaise and apple cider caramel. (Chipolte-chocolate wins the prize, although it would be even better if served warm.)
Ambiance: Nectar features one of the more grandiose designs ever seen on the Main Line. It is amazingly large and stylish — a 200 seat room features huge ceilings, dark, colorful light and a giant silkscreen Buddha tapestry as a centerpiece. This restaurant recalls the center city experience of a Buddakan or Pod more than any other venue the ‘burbs has to offer.
Service: Although the service was generally agreeable, several inconsistencies marred the overall experience. Firstly, when I originally called to make a reservation, I was bounced to three people and eventually a line that was never answered. When we arrived, although the room was 2/3 empty, we were placed at the table nearest the kitchen door and had to request a less busy location. Lastly, the waiters were a bit overzealous about clearing completed plates — several times they attempted to remove dishes that we were not quite ready to part with. Their intentions were likely honorable, but there is a fine line between being helpful and being too aggressive.
Wine List: The wine list is separated into several quirky but helpful categories — with cutesy names like “sweet nectar” and “bold nectar” that offer some help in navigating the medium-sized list. The prices, however, are outlandish, even for a restaurant of this quality. Less than a handful of bottles come in under $50, with many more available for $100 and above. Perhaps Feury and co. know something that I don’t about the clientele, but I find it baffling that many people would be shelling out three figures for a bottle of wine all that often. Offering a better selection in the $30-$50 range would make the overall experience much more enjoyable and complete. House wine is available for $6.50 a glass, a flat out deal compared to the bottles.
Value: Make no mistake about it — Nectar is fine dining and is priced accordingly. Entrees tend to run in the $20s, with a few available in the teens. The top dishes like the aforementioned lobster/scallop combo and venison were each $29, which is a reasonable price considering the quality of each dish. Appetizers tend to be around $8, and if combined with some sushi would probably make a pretty nice, reasonably priced meal. As mentioned above, the wine list is offensively overpriced, and as such brings down the value of Nectar as a whole.
# of times we’ve eaten there: 1