Always give the people what they want. There are so many instances of companies, politicians, and people interacting with the Honeycomb mascot that have forgotten this simple maxim. As such, after our trip to Nightingale, Fancy Dinner Club is going through a wholesale rebranding. Matt, always the first to arrive at the Club Formerly Known as Fancy Dinner, checked in using our former name, only to hear in return “Oh, Fancy Party!” Without further ado, I present to you Oh, Fancy Party! #1: Nightingale.
I actually went on a date here in my pre OFP! days, and I was immediately reminded that Nightingale is a great date place. The lighting is perfect (it even worked with a police car, lights ablaze, sitting next to the window). The cocktails are classy. And most importantly, there are lots of cool decorations to look at. Your date starts talking about their ex? Hey, check out those weird sea urchin things on the wall! Can’t get your date to stop looking at their phone? I wonder whose idea it was to put the light bulbs in those bizarre wooden cages. Someone assumes having kids is an okay first topic of conversation? Wow, look at that faux jail cell wall. I think I would rather be in jail right now…Nightingale gets an A+ on the decor.
Before our meal began, we received a round of “compliments of the chef” plates, which made us feel pretty cool. Yes, put a single shrimp, slice of chorizo, and some crazy chili sauce on a tiny plate and you’ve earned my respect. I ate the whole thing in one messy bite, much to the dismay of my companions. The presentation was also confusing – the dish was on top of a little plate on top of a slightly bigger plate with a napkin in between. I wiped my mouth with the napkin, and asked our server if I used it right. She gave one of those good-try-buddy looks and moved on. I think I nailed it.
Our scheduled programming started with a few bruschettas and a meat plate. The first bruschetta was a white bean bruschetta with Chicago-style peppers. Besides being very pretty, I thought it was a pretty tasty (plus it had cauliflower in it, too!). Chris gave it the strangest review of all time, something along the lines of “It was fine, but I would never eat that again.” The other bruschetta was a blue crab and serrano pepper mix. It brought some serious heat, but was also seriously good. The toast on both bruschettas was super crispy and buttery – hats off to the bakers. The meat plate was meat. Fancy meat, good meat, but…meat.
The entree round did not disappoint either. We ordered an odd amalgamation of items, including pork, mussels, roasted carrots and parsnips, and potato cakes. The pork dish was incredible. Truly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It had this ridiculous crust on it, but also fell apart with little-to-no resistance. I basically have a permanent GIF of that pork coming apart that’s been looping in my brain ever since. The accompaniments, hot peppers and rye spaetzle, were perfect sidekicks. Ten out of ten, would eat a million more times. As a true testament to how good it was, once we were hit with the aroma of that dish, we completely forgot about the other entrees at the table and all dug into the pork while the gettin’ was good (it was so, so good, for those just joining us in the middle of this paragraph). The other dishes probably felt a little left out, but I’m sure they understood. Perfect texture, great flavor, holy shit.
As for the rest of the entrees, well, they played second fiddle while the pork confit acted as the metaphorical Johnny, outdueling the devil for a golden fiddle. That’s not to say they weren’t good though. I’m always a fan of mussels. Seafoody broth that you can dip little bread triangles in? You can’t go wrong. I did think the broth needed a little more pepper or something like that, but overall pretty solid.
The potato pancake and sauerkraut dish, the suggestion of which was met with disdain from Matt and Chris, was actually universally liked. The sauerkraut was pretty mild, and the apple butter was a great addition.
The carrots and parsnips came with a mole sauce that I still can’t quite figure out whether I liked. At the time, I remember not caring for it, but maybe that’s because of the appearance of the sauce on the plate. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions as to what the sauce on the side of the plate looks like, but I have a feeling you’ll reach the same verdict that the four of us did.
As we were thinking about dessert the kitchen came out with compliments-of-the-chef dish #2. It was a pear/rosemary sorbet with balsamic and bread crumbs. It was…weird. I like those ingredients, but not as ice cream. You got a little too cute, Nightingale (though we certainly still appreciated the gesture).
Before coming to Nightingale, the one thing we were told to get was the chocolate pot de creme. We also added in the pear crisp per recommendation of our server. We were split 50/50 as a group in terms of what we thought was better. It was a tough call for me. On one hand, why would you ever choose to use pears when you could use apples? Sure, you’re thinking outside the box a little bit, but unless we’re talking an elementary school cafeteria Red “Delicious” apple, pears will always lose to apples. The pear crisp was basically perfect except for the pear. The pot de creme was good, but it kind of had the mouthfeel and aftertaste of mac n’ cheese, which I found extremely disconcerting for something that I assumed would just be a bowl of chocolate. There was also the matter of the spoons. There was a big spoon and a little one, and none of us really knew which one went to which dessert. At least give us some ambiguous IKEA-esque instructions, Nightingale.
I asked Brad to take a picture of the spoons so I could make some sort of big spoon/little spoon joke, but he accidentally took a video, which is way funnier. Also, here’s said video of spoons.
Considering how close I lived to Nightingale for years, I am very disappointed in Uptown Drew for never taking advantage of it, but very happy that Suburbs Livin’ Drew had the opportunity to finally have a meal there. The pork dish was unreal, but the meal overall was one of the better ones I have had (and, for what its worth, was the best OFP! meal of all time). For those of you looking for a place to take that special someone (or really any someone), Nightingale is the place to be.
Over my time here as President and CEO of Fancy Bathroom Club, I’ve come to realize that bathrooms are like onions, in that they both are smelly. The best bathrooms are even MORE like onions, though, because they are smelly AND they have layers. I suppose the theoretical perfect bathroom would have layers and not be smelly, but then that would ruin my onion metaphor.
The bathroom at Nightingale has layers on layers. It has layers within layers. It is, in a word, eclectic. And, in another word, layer-y. Word? Yes.
Upon entering the single-occupancy bathroom, you’re greeted by a toilet to your left AND A URINAL TO YOUR RIGHT. Why does this bathroom contain both, when only one person at a time is in the bathroom? Are there some people that prefer going in a urinal versus going in a toilet? These are questions for which there can be no answer.
After you’ve moved past the first existential crisis this bathroom has to offer, the hits keep coming. The bathroom has one of my favorite staples of any fancy bathroom, random artwork. These photographs appear to show a random Minneapolis streetcorner, and a blurry closeup of a guy with a whiskey bottle. Points in the plus column there.
The streetcorner photo is directly above the urinal, which might actually give the urinal option a much-needed leg up. Blurry drunk guy is near the sink, next to a wall-mounted soap dispenser, which would be a nice touch if there wasn’t already a soap thing on the sink. Which there is.
Continuing our descent into madness, the tile work. Oh the tile work. The wall tiling is actually pretty nice, but it could use a little spice in the lower half – the all-white isn’t my jam anymore. I’m jaded.
The floor tile, though, is the thing that ties this insane mix of crazy shenanigans together. Just look at it!
Why is it striped?! There are no stripes in this bathroom! It’s like the rest of the room was inspired by Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and the floor was inspired by Charlemagne.
I don’t even know how to rate this bathroom. I’ll give it an-apple-floating-in-gin-served-in-a-man’s-hat out of five flushes. This bathroom is whack.
But I liked it.