Sherman's Food Adventures: Nightingale


One of the last meals Mijune and I had before Covid-19 shutdown (and really, it was a good idea to not go out anyways...) was at the popular Nightingale restaurant from Chef David Hawksworth.  Recently, Chef Alan Tam (no, not the singer) took over the reigns from Chef Phil Scarphone.  Even though I've been here before (and countless times for Mijune), it seemed like a good opportunity to check out some of the classic dishes on the menu as well as a few changes from the new chef.  

Although we had each already had our own dinners, we ended up with 2nd dinner (pretty normal for Mijune). Starting off light, we had the delicious Seared Albacore Tuna with red kosho, radish, lime vinaigrette and fried onion furikake.  Although simple in theory, the flavours of the dish were far from that.  The bright sweetness of the fish was perfectly complimented by the acidity of the vinaigrette.  An extra component of refreshing bite came in the form of the koshu.  Staying on the same theme of lighter dishes, we had the Citrus Salad next.  This consisted of cashews, fresh herbs and bee pollen vinaigrette.  Lots of things going on here including the bitterness of the radicchio and tangy sweetness of the blood orange and grapefruit.  Herbs added a certain green taste that was complimented by the nuttiness of the buttery cashews.  I don't normally love salad, but I did love this one.

One of the most iconic dishes at Nightingale has to be the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with spiced Maple syrup, sumac and pickles.  There are some pretty good versions of fried chicken in the city, and this one stacks up well compared to Annalena and Downlow.  The best part is of course the chicken as it was juicy and tender with a crispy well-seasoned batter.  Sweet with extra layers of flavour, the syrup didn't detract from the crispiness.  It was beautifully balanced by the salty tang of the pickles.  Yummy.  Mijune insisted we order the Baked Sweet Potato with jalapeño, saddler's smoked bacon, crème fraîche and scallions.  Okay, she was right as this thing was friggin' addictive.  Sweet with depth and super soft, the potato was not only elevated by the smoky saltiness of the bacon, it provided the necessary crunch to balance the softness of the dish.  Bringing it all down was the dollop of crème fraîche. As if this wasn't enough, the peppers provided a kick too.

A new creation from Chef Tam was the Whipped Avocado with guajillo salsa consisting of pumpkin and sesame seeds, roasted garlic and olive oil.  Served on the side was deliciously charred and blistered za'atar flatbread.  Beyond the creamy and fresh avocado, the salsa was what made this dish (well, the bread was pretty awesome too).  It was smoky, nutty, aromatic and only the slightest hint of heat.  Yes, the smokiness of the bread as well as the nuttiness of the spice didn't hurt things either.  Trying to get more veggies into our meals, we had the Roasted Cauliflower with sultana raisins, cilantro, sunflower seeds and turmeric vinaigrette.  Not sure if this meant healthier, but it was indeed tasty.  Again, layers of flavour here including the smoky sweetness of the cauliflower, more sweetness from the sultanas and an earthiness from the vinaigrette.  We only wished that the cauliflower was a bit firmer.

Although Mijune wasn't too keen on the Triple Cooked Potato Wedges, I insisted on ordering them because I'm a sucker for fried potatoes.  Besides, more veggies right???  Well, these were served with a harissa aioli and seasoned simply with sea salt.  Being triple cooked, they were golden brown, crunchy and nutty.  They were crunchy as I expected with the fluffiness of potato inside.  This was achieved due to its physical thickness whereas frites would be crunchy with much less potatoness left.  I was curious about the Grilled Beef Shortribs and they turned out to be an Asian-inspired version complete with kohlrabi kimchi.  They were tender and fatty with cararmelized smokiness.  They were a little wet, but that meant that they were just not chewy.  They were simply garnished with sesame seeds and scallions.

Sweets began with the Sticky Toffee Pudding with candied pecans, boubon butterscotch and Maple ice Cream.  As this dessert can be very rich and sweet, the one we had was somewhat lighter.  Very buttery and aromatic with the deep rich sweetness of toffee.  Decadent.  Seemingly simple, the PB&J Ice Cream Sandwich was fantastic!  Sweet, but not too sweet and perfectly nutty, the ice cream was smooth while the amount of jam was just right.  Captured the essence of the flavour profile while cold and encased with crunchy, yet light cookie.  Delish.  I am so glad Mijune suggested we hit up Nightingale because it was even better than my initial visit.  Things change, chefs change.  Good to keep up with everything.  I hope when we can get back to eating out, that Nightingale is there too.

*There was a discount for the food

The Good:
- Their classic dishes are really good
- That ice cream sandwich...
- Okay pricing for the food quality

The Bad:
- Need to order quite a few dishes to get full
- Some seats upstairs aren't the best


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