I stumbled upon Nick’s on Main in Los Gatos while scoping out restaurants for Clint’s “birthday dinner”. Clint has a couple of these birthday dinners a year, all clustered around his actual birth date.
This year, he had three “birthday dinners”. Nick’s on Main won unanimously as the best of the three dinners.
We were in the mood for superlative dishes. Fine dining that exceeded comfort food that wasn’t avant garde, served in a charming, intimate setting. The American bistro motif with definite European influences of Nick’s on Main immediately welcomed us in. The curved black bistro chairs pushed against crisp white table cloths and the painted exposed brick walls, all dimly lit by the candle chandelier that hung overhead.
The menu was simple and frankly, did not do the food justice.
We started with two “TRUST” the Chef appetizers ($15). If you order multiple “TRUST” the Chef dishes, each will be a different creation. I suggest you order several of these to share at the table. There’s no doubt that each person at your dinner party will be interested in trying out everyone else’s “TRUST” the Chefs appetizer. Therefore, it makes sense to avoid the inevitable and declare first course as family style to avoid any shyness.
I feel strange raving about the bread at the table, but it was a treat in itself with a spicy tapenade which was served on the side. Much more delightful than boring butter. The bread was also the perfect vehicle to soak up all the sauces from both “TRUST” the Chef dishes.
We paired appetizers with selections from Nick’s wine and beer list. For Heather and I, glasses of 2009 Kathryn Kennedy Sauvignon Blanc which paired surprisingly well with both “TRUST” the chefs. Peter and Clint opted for beer. I don’t recall what beer they ordered, but they seem to enjoy it thoroughly.
For our main course, I selected the sea bass, Heather chose the ahi tuna and both Clint and Peter decided on the lamb.
The sea bass was very good, but not melt-in-your-mouth memorable. It did pair well with the flavorful Polenta and the combination was an improvement.
The ahi tuna was perfectly seasoned on the outside. It is some of the best ahi tuna I have tasted, on my plate or reaching over into someone else’s dinner plate. I am sure the goat cheese and brown butter herb sauce helped.
The highlight of the main courses was the Basil Pesto Crusted Grilled Colorado Lamb Chops. The crust was flavorful and had a texture which perfectly complemented the medium rare centers of the lamb chops. The whipped potatoes and Swiss chard were nice accompaniments, but the star of the show was the lamb.
For the special occasion, I paired the dinner with a 1999 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon pulled from our wine cellar. Nick’s charges a very reasonable corkage fee.
The wine had aged beautifully and had enough character and balance to pair nicely with each of our main course selections. When a wine paired exceptionally well with dinner, I will unconsciously drink more wine. I easily polished off a couple of glasses of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although the dessert menu looked most tempting, we were only able to obtain the dinner reservation if we agreed to be out of the restaurant by 6:30 pm. Nick’s had been nice enough to squeeze us in. One glance outside and already there was a small crowd forming and I am sure four of the people have been fated to sit at our table. The wait staff was so gracious to delicately break it to us that we must part our ways.
In fact, the service was fantastic throughout the whole evening. Discreet, yet attentive. Finding the right balance is a true art form.
We decided that grabbing some gelato at the local gelato shop would be an equally appetizing dessert option.
Just before we left, we finally met Chef Nick. There is no better way to finish off a meal than to finally shake the hands of the chef that created such a memorable meal.
The bill came in a fun ingredients book, “The Food Lover’s Companion”. I always thought the best food lover’s companion was an excellent chef, who knew it came in the form of a book.
I randomly opened the book and turned to this page:
Chef Nick not only warms your stomach with an excellent meal when you visit, but also leaves you with some food for thought.
When at Nick’s on Main, “TRUST” the chef, you are in good hands.
Nick’s on Main Restaurant
35 East Main Street,
Los Gatos, California