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Nectar


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Although never been there, was a little dissapointed when I saw an ad on one of the culinary job sites where they were looking for a pastry chef, but only offering $9.50 - $10.00 an hour! A REALLY BIG slap in the face to pastry chefs, not only in the D.C. area, but all across the country. No matter how good the food is, as a pastry chef myself, I usually don't frequent places that care so little for the pastry department. :angry:

McKay

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I had a beverage with the pastry chef of Nectar this eve. He had his arm in a cast after a little hit and run situation. He assured me that they were looking for an assistant position, and the ad you saw was incorrect. If you've ever eaten there, you would see that their pastry dept. science is tight, and they care about that course as much as anyone else in the city. Especially when their pastry chef puts on the blue apron after he finishes service as the restaurant director.

Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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Although never been there, was a little dissapointed when I saw an ad on one of the culinary job sites where they were looking for a pastry chef, but only offering $9.50 - $10.00 an hour! A REALLY BIG slap in the face to pastry chefs, not only in the D.C. area, but all across the country. No matter how good the food is, as a pastry chef myself,  I usually don't frequent places that care so little for the pastry department. :angry:

I can assure you that Nectar is committed to a quality pastry program. If you scroll back up through the posts in this thread you will find several that commentators explicitly mention dessert. Jarad Slipp is the pastry chef, and I don't think he is leaving that position any time soon. Was the ad you saw perhaps for an assistant or an apprentice level position?

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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The ad I saw is on www.hcareers.com. Listed under keyword search of PASTRY CHEF for all the U.S. and under Potomac Hospitalty services on Sept 12. Ad says they are looking for a pastry chef ( assistant is not listed ), so I would take it that the position was for pastry chef ( when an ad for a restaurant says it is looking for a pastry chef, it is presumed to be THE pastry chef, not assistant) This doesn't always apply though in a larger venue situation ( hotel , resort, etc...)

Also, for a restaurant that seems to be very good ( I meant no harm in my initial response that it wasn't - it is obviuosly VERY good ) I still feel that a pastry assistants position in a fabulous restaurant in D.C. warrants more than $9.00 - $10.50 per hour. My concern on this isn't the quality of the desserts ( which are well received it seems to be ) but the fact that The pastry chef is wearing 2 hats ( as restaurant director as well as PC) and maybe not allowing the money that someone deserves to be making as Pastry chef alone, concerns me as a pastry chef myself. This topic has been brought up on the Pastry forum in many different aspects, from pastry chef recognition to someone just out of culinary school being offered a pastry chef position when she really didn't have an interest in pastry in the first place.

Take my comments for what you will.

McKay

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McKay,

I appreciate your concern over the wages paid to pastry professionals. However, I think you may be picking the wrong target here. In terms of how they approach pastry, Nectar is one of the good guys, not the bad guys.

I can only assume that Nectar chose the pay scale they are offering for this position based on a reasonable amount of knowledge about what people who do the job they want done are currently being paid in the DC area. Otherwise, they have no hope of filling the position.

Now, why are those the prevailing wages? Supply and demand, almost certainly. If there where greater demand for people who know their way around pastry, wages would go up. So don't blame Nectar, blame the places in their price range where dessert is a slice of outsourced cake and a scoop of outsourced ice cream plated by a busboy. If they put in serious pastry programs and demanded serious pastry people, wages would be higher.

Also, realize that Nectar is a small place. Having Jarad do double duty may be what enables them to offer quality pastry at all. They could easily outsource the same stuff others do, or present the same basic creme brule, apple tart, and liquid-center chocolate cake you get at a hundred other places; but they have chosen not to. If this forces their competition to be more serious about pastry, then pastry chefs all around town will come out winners.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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Great points Darren.

It could also simply be the fact that Jarad got his arm busted up and can't do it, so they are looking for an assistant that will do what they are asked and not much else. Going outside the budget to hire an unexpected employee is not really that exciting for your bottom line.

Mckay,

Go have dinner at Nectar. Check the place out. Those guys' hearts are in the right place.

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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  • 2 weeks later...

My mother is in love w/ Jamie Blakenship! :laugh:

Thanks to Jamie, her daughter (me) no longer complains about the long trip down 95 in an old car, but jumps at the opportunity to come home, visit mom, and go to Nectar!

We went again last night. Jared was missing, apparently because he hurt his arm--for a third time?? (GET WELL SOON JARED!). But Jamie was there, with several new additions to the menu, and we experienced it all. We ate. And ate. And ate until mom was nearly asleep in her plate at the end of a nearly 3 hour meal (what a trooper!). It's nearly 10 am the next morning and I'm still full...

We had:

1. Oysters w/ cucumber and dill. Each in its own little dish w/ sauce. Oysters were from Nova Scotia (didn't catch the name), and were pretty good, although I think a slightly brinier variety might do better--perhaps Stellar Bays?

I had a glass of a sparkling Riesling with the oysters--delicious! (2000 Schumann Wagler Riesling Sekt-Trocken-Rheingau)

2. Pumpkin, yogurt and crisp sweetbreads soup. I could eat this daily. The sweetbreads were placed in a large dish, and the soup poured over. It was a perfect pairing, and a tremendous winter dish. A great replacement for the pea soup.

3. Duck w/ fruit, turnips and mustard oil. I wanted to take a picture of this dish--the colors were spectacular. Deep reds and whites. The duck was rare rare rare--nearly still quacking--which I thought was a bit daring, but ultimately a good call. There were some lovely mashed potatoes here as well.

I enjoyed the 2000 Bergstrom Pinot Gris from Willamette with the duck. It was a nice pairing with the turnips. I'm off to Oregon soon, maybe I should go look up the 29 yr old that makes this wine :raz:

4. Cheese course. These were nice, but not terribly memorable cheeses. One reminded me of morbier, but wasn't, and another was like a chevrot, but again, was something else...

5. Berry cobbler w/ white russian milkshake. Oh, this milkshake! Fantastically delicious! Could've sucked down 3 of them. The berry cobbler was a nice warm touch on a very cold night, and came in the greatest little black casserole dish.

All in all, a truly memorable meal. Mazman came late and joined us for the last two courses, and I know he loved that milkshake in particular. And afterwards he and I wandered over to Firefly, where I finally got to meet John W. and checkout his thoroughly happening joint (Tom Ridge was there last night! True star sighting :wink: ). I fully intend go back and enjoy his food next time.

I simply have to get to DC more often!

You guys have some great stuff happening here.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Hey guys. New poster here.

I am a big fan of Nectar. The restaurant has a relatively small menu with carefully selected ingredients and well prepared food. The food is prepared thoughtfully. D.C. could use more small restaurants like this that pay attention to the customer and appear to try very hard with every meal.

I thought Thomas Head's review in the Washingtonian was terribly unfair. I'm not sure what the rest of the readers of this forum think of his reviews, but if I read one more reference to "nutty" dry aged beef, I am going to puke. I think he caters his palate to the middle brow sophisticates of Chevy Chase -- the folks who adore the unimaginative, but steady places.

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

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8Track,

Let me tell you a secret:

The latest ABC report says that Washingtonian's circulation is 152, 439

The Sunday Post's circulation is about 1.15 million at this point.

People count on Sietsema and he clearly likes Nectar.

Hush now.

Secretly, I'm from Chevy Chase...

...

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Had some beautiful foie gras with thin slices of nearly candied banana and pistachios tonight for an app. Also had the hanger steak (rare, but perhaps not rare enough) with perfectly crispy fingerling potatoes, chanterelles, and I believe swiss chard. Ended it with the cheese course. Everything was well executed with some great service at the bar, no doubt due in part to my dining companion's charm.

Wow, foie gras twice in a week. I'll be consulting my cardiologist in the a.m.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Mike,

HUSH! With 6 stools, that bar at Nectar is the best kept secret in town. All the bartenders are fun, nice guys. Plus, at the bar you can talk, drink, eat, laugh with the staff and smoke, too. As far as foie goes, get on the Lipitor train!

Mark

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Mike,

HUSH! With 6 stools, that bar at Nectar is the best kept secret in town. All the bartenders are fun, nice guys. Plus, at the bar you can talk, drink, eat, laugh with the staff and smoke, too. As far as foie goes,  get on the Lipitor train!

Good point. My lips are sealed. As are my arteries.

Good night all,

Al

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Sorry Mark. Gotta rave some more.

I stopped by Nectar last night to pick up my credit card that I left the previous night. The bar was quiet so I sat and had a beer while reading the paper. Suddenly, the oysters showed up. Absolutely deeelish. A plate with 6 little bowls each filled with a cucumber puree, a little dill and seaweed, and a tasty little oyster plopped into the middle of it. It had a wonderful salty cukey-fresh aroma.

Then I was off to Firefly... go to other thread.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another trip to Nectar, another stunner of an evening. It was Jared and Jamison's night off, but the ship was in the very able hands of Alex in the kitchen and Brice up front. The great thing about Nectar is the intense focus on creating extraordinarily satisfying combinations of flavors on every plate and in every food and beverage pairing. I say beverage instead of simply wine, because over the course of the evening we enjoyed not only wine, but also sherry, bourbon, and calvados, paired with the various dishes we were served.

A couple of the highlights of the evening have already been mentioned by others. We began with the oyster shooters with cucumber gelee and mustard oil. The oysters were served with a wildly refreshing Schumann Nagler sparkling reisling from Rheingau. Plenty of other places would offer a safe yellow-labeled champange with this dish, but not Nectar. Champagne shmampagne--sparkling reisling is where it's at. I learn something new and exciting every time I set foot in the place.

Next up was the creamy squash soup poured over crisp sweetbreads. The sweetbreads remained crisp and crunchy through the course, adding a beautiful counterpoint to the warm velvet texture of the soup. With the soup, we had the pairing of the evening, from my point of view, a rich nutty Lustau Escuadrilla Amontillado Solera Riserva sherry from Jerez. This was the first of two sherries we had, both of which I appreciated immensely. Once again, Nectar comes through with something you absolutely don't expect, and it's just fantastic.

From there we moved on to perfect rectangles of sashimi tuna with a garden of micro-basil shoots, a salad of baby beets, asparagus tips, fingerling potatoes, blue cheese and greens dressed in walnut oil. In the glass with the salad we had the biodynamic, but unclipped, Nicholas Joly "Becherelle" 2000 from Savinnieres. Does the biodynamic approach bring more minerals in from the soil? Or do they come through because the winemaker is willing to abstain from oaking them to death? Well, Joly wrote the book on biodynamic wine so we can all read and decide for ourselves. With the salad, we had a Brundelmeyer Gruner Veltliner 2002 from Kamptaler, Austria. Needless to say, no evening at Nectar is complete without a gruvey--the ultimate asparagus wine.

My main course was a hangar steak with wild mushrooms and fingerling potatoes. What's the point of going to a dark-paneled steakhouse and washing down a pound of charred beef with a bucketful of pure liquid tannin, when Nectar can make you a steak like this one? The beefy goodness of the center of the steak stands on it's own, warm but red. The carmelized surface marries the meat to the mushrooms. In the glass, Finca Sobreno, Selection Especial, 1999 from Toro. Made from tinto de toro, a.k.a. tempranillo, it's a full rich cherry ice-cream experience.

Scallops were, as usual, a big hit. The term diver scallop has gotten genericized to the point that it is now used to refer to any large scallop. Nectar makes it clear that these are still the real deal, by noting that theirs are hand-harvested. The scallops were accompanied by Flowers Perrenial 2001, a blend of pinot noir, syrah, and pinot meunier, rounded out with just a bit of chardonnay.

The cheese course has got to be my favorite in town. Sitting down with it is like seeing an old dear friend after a period of time apart. You know the basic parameters--five cheeses: a goat, a soft creamy cheese, a sharp aged cheese, a blue, and an oozy stinky cheese-lovers bomb--but you never know how Jared will have worked within those parameters. Maybe he'll take you to Normandy, maybe Vermont, or Gloucester, or perhaps the Basque country or Piedmonte. And the toasted rasin nut bread, in slices just a few millimeters thick, is the perfect accompaniment.

Finally, dessert. Each of the four of us had something different, each matched with an appropriate beverage. Deconstructed apple pie with Daron XO Calvados, Baked Alaska with a bourbon sauce and Basil Hayden Bourbon, pumpkin three ways (creme brulle, spice cake, and ice cream) with Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximenez Solera Riserva

sherry, and a dark chocolate tart with Rolet Vin de Paille d'Arbois 1999 from Jura.

I know I'm sounding like a broken record when I say this, but it's impossible to overestimate how important it is that DC has a small-scale (I hesitate to say "neighborhood") restaurant like Nectar with a staff so deeply committed to quality food, drink, and service. My next visit can't be soon enough.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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Darren,

I had a stellar dinner at the Nectar the day before you. Jarad was there, Brice was there, Alex was there. I was entertaining a restaurateur friend of mine. He was impressed. Dinner was impeccable. No faults. We had many of the dishes Darren Vengroff had.

Mark

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A e-gullet triple header! I ate there last night!

The menu consists of 6 appetizers, 6 entrees, 6 desserts. Dinner opened with a selection of 4 breads served table side on a silver platter and a small ramakin of very rich farm butter mixed with sea salt.

Appetizers

Pumpkin, yogurt and crisp sweetbreads soup: Small morsels of crispy sweetbreads in a pool of yogurt arrived in a bowl in to which pumpkin puree is decanted tableside.

Raw tuna topped with sun dried tomato, pine nuts, and basil. A long thin slice of ruby red tuna, topped with a mixture of sun dried tomato, pine nuts and basil.

Entrees

Duck with cabbage, potato and caraway. Sliced duck breast cooked to the ordered medium rare, and served with a round of cabbage and potatoes and a caraway sauce. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the accompaniments really worked with the duck.

Hanger Steak, mushrooms, potato and spinach. A healthy serving of medium rare hanger steak, with porcini mushrooms, sauteed fingerling potatoes and a spinach puree. This was a dish that really worked! The waiter also suggested a very tasty 1999 Finca Sobreno.

Dessert

Cheese Plate. A serving of five cheese

Valencay, a goat cheese which we found to be a bit bland.

Coulommiers, a brie style cheese with citrus notes that was excellent.

Lincolnshire Poacher, a hard cheddar style cheese from England, also excellent.

Beenliegh Blue, just not a fan of blue cheese at all, so I won't comment.

Trou Du Cro, described as stinky, and really perhaps the highlight for its addictively pungent yet creamy flavor.

Although the cheese plate was served with a slice of toasted raisin bread, we wished for little fruit to round the plate off.

Fall Fruit Cobbler with Warm White Russian Milkshake

Almost souffle-like in its tenderness, filled with blueberries, backberries, raspberries and apple. Served with a glass of white russian milkshake, that really has to be tried to appreciate how good it is.

Dinner was rounded off with a strong cup of Kenya AA coffee.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally made it there tonight, for a fantastic birthday dinner. I ordered tuna tartare, steak and baked alaska. This sounds like a supertraditional dinner, doesn't it? But it wasn't. The tuna is a rectangle of sashimi-grade tuna topped with a spicy dried tomato-pine nut relish and itty bitty baby basil greens. The steak? Four rectangles of thick, juicy hanger steak topped with cepes, with a red-wine reduction sauce and bright bright green spinach puree. Big glass of spicy, brassy shiraz with the steak which made me actively happy, I was almost squirming I enjoyed it so much. Oh, there were some crispyish round potatoes on my plate too which kicked ass...little half-spheres of potato heaven. The baked alaska had a maple-nut ice cream and this extremely alcoholic, terrific "hi-ball sauce". My only complaint was that the sauce was hard to pick up with the alaska since it was so thin, so I ended up drinking most of it with a spoon after the alaska was gone. The plating at this place alone is gorgeous and inventive. I want to return for lunch sometime.

My partner had the scallops with haricots and chorizo, which looked terrific. The scallops were seared until caramelized, rich and sweet. He chose the fall fruit crisp with warm white russian milkshake for his dessert. I thought it a bit odd that a fall crisp included raspberries and blackberries, but it must have been fantastic because I didn't score a bite of it. It came in one of those attractive French oval bakers (they make chicken pot pies in these same dishes on the lunch menu at 2941). The milkshake was mildly alcoholic, and had a texture between whipped cream and the frothed milk on a cappuccino. Mmmmm.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I hate going to four-hour operas when I've overeaten (then again, I hate going to four-hour operas when I haven't overeaten). And I refuse to pay the Kennedy Center's extortionary $15 parking charge, so I parked on 25th Street, right next to the "I Don't Want Anyone To See Who I'm With" entrance to Nectar.

For the price of a quarter-mile walk, you can take that garage money and get yourself a pre-theater cup of meaningful coffee, and the most whimsically named dessert I've seen in awhile:

"Apple Pie Ala Mode ... kinda"

The inimitable Jarad Slipp, this generation's Jim Morrison and the clear favorite for the upcoming Agar-Agar King award, explained this interesting little presentation, noting that the apple portion of this dessert (set in a gel and served warm) was made possible because agar-agar retains its gelling ability when heated to a higher level than gelatin, which fails at 110 degrees.

Me? I'm just glad I parked on 25th Street.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Edited by DonRocks (log)
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this generation's Jim Morrison

Is that something you would want to be?

Probably not an accurate portrayal, Bill, but Jarad came out last night, draped in seaweed (or was that his Gucci tie), and started singing in a haunting and monotonic voice:

I am the Agar-Agar King ... I can do anything ...

Jarad and Jamison are often thought of in tandem, inseparable, like Abbott and Costello, Penn and Teller, Laurel and Hardy, so carrying this to its logical conclusion, I took two individual photographs I have of them and ran them through a morphing algorithm I have on my computer, only to get the following result:

http://www.elvis-costello.net/gallery/details.php?image_id=6

Fearing reprisal,

Rocks.

Edited by DonRocks (log)
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