Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nix's Mate - Not Just an Island in Boston Harbor!

Nix's Mate recently opened in the Financial District's Hilton Hotel.  Named for a small island in Boston Harbor, which also offer's the inspiration for the restaurant itself, the space is light and airy with its high ceilings and bleached walls accented and grounded by light beams and floors.

Inside Nix's Mate
This visit to Nix's Mate was arranged by Lin so that a group of bloggers, DaisyMeghanLisaMeganJacki and Meesh and I, could get together and catch up over something we all love - eating!  The menu is rather large with lots of different styles of food.  We decided to order a bunch of appetizers to share and enjoy.

First to arrive was the Fried Crab Cake Nuggets with a shaved beet salad, mustardy aioli, arugula, watermelon, roasted corn and walnuts.  This was a refreshing, summery salad with great texture added by the crab cake.  I loved the mustard dressing as it added nice tang and spice to the dish.

Fried Crab Cake Nuggets

Arriving at the same time was the Polpette Vongole, which was a beautiful presentation of tiny meatballs tossed in a red clam sauce.  Any plate that uses the shell is always special in my book.  I enjoyed this surprising mixture of clams and meatballs, and the brine of the clams was a nice addition to the sauce.

Polpette Vongole
An always reliable appetizer is Bacon Wrapped Scallops, and these came with a maple butter.  I loved the sweetness of the maple butter, which contrasted well with the saltiness of the bacon.  I only wish there were a couple more on the plate.  

Bacon Wrapped Scallop Skewers
Ever since my first taste of cheek meat, I have sort of become obsessed because it is always SO tender. Seeing the Braised Veal Cheek "Pot au Feu" served with roasted baby vegetables and bone morrow, I knew I wanted to give that a try.  This was definitely a rich dish, especially with the bone marrow, and may have been a bit heavy for a summer menu.  The richness was lessened a bit by the green beans and bok choy.  However, the cheek meat was cooked well and, like all cheek meat, nice and tender.

Braised Veal Cheek
Next we tried the Harbor Island Flatbread, which was topped with salami and pepperoni, tomato gravy, mozzarella, leeks and spicy fried rock shrimp.  This was definitely an interesting bunch of toppings that did actually work, but I was looking for a bit more flavor from this dish.  I did not taste much spice from the "spicy" rock shrimp.  Also the toppings overwhelmed the crust a bit.

Harbor Island Flatbread
One of the dishes we could not help but order was the Fried Maine Lobster Caramel with a warm Vermont cheddar, green onions and chilis.  I mean, where to begin?  The cheese?  The caramel?  The fried lobster?!  Nothing about this dish sounded like it would work but magically this dish did.  It was rich and flavorful and packed a lot of flavor in each bite.

Fried Lobster Caramel
In an attempt to offset some of the rich dishes above we also got a couple of salads.  The first was the Tuna Carpaccio Nicoise with cracked olives, green beans, roasted potatoes, capers, a hard-boiled egg and lemon aioli.  This was a nice, refreshing dish, with the lovely raw tuna over the bed of lettuce accented with the light aioli.  This dish also had plenty of tuna to share, which made it even better!

Tuna Carpaccio Nicoise
Finally, we had the Boston Bibb salad with pecans, blackberries, caramelized onion dressing and cornbread croutons.  I was left a bit wanting by this dish - I wish the blackberries were not really in jam form and that there was more flavor in there.  However, the cornbread croutons were delicious!

Boston Bibb
Even though we tasted most of the appetizer menu, we still had plenty of room to try some of the desserts, especially given the sweet teeth this group has.  First we tried the Chocolate Hazelnut Tort with olive oil, sea salt, chestnut brittle and Thatcher Farms cream.  This was a delicious dessert - what all desserts should be, sweet perfection.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tort
Next was the strawberry shortcake with buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk caramel and buttermilk panna cotta.  I loved the amount of strawberries on this plate!  The biscuit was light and fluffy and the panna cotta was a great texture to contrast the more traditional components of this dish.

Strawberry Shortcake
Additionally we got the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with homemade brioche and toasted marshmallow.  This was a definite table favorite.  Each of these components worked so well.  The bruleed banana had a great crunch and the smokiness of the marshmallow added a lovely accent to the flavor of each bite.

Bananas Foster's Bread Pudding
Finally we got the Ice Cream Sandwiches made with homemade cookies and Christina's ice cream (a favorite in the In and Around Town household!), all of which is topped off with caramel and chocolate sauces.  This was an impressive presentation - a tower of ice cream sandwiches!  The cookies were oatmeal raisin (no my favorite) but a well made cookie that was able to hold up to the ice cream and sauces well (it was still a sandwich after being photographed by all of us!).

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Nix's Mate offered up a nice menu with a great variety of menu items.  In an area dominated by pubs and traditional "Boston Bars" I think Nix's Mate will satisfy a definite unmet need in the Financial District.

Nix's Mate on Urbanspoon


  1. I agree with Meghan, really excellent photos. this was such a fun night!

  2. Sounds like a great night! I love being able to try so many dishes in one sitting!

  3. This looked like such a fun meal! I want that bread pudding now.

  4. Great review, and I agree, you got great pictures! I hoping to go back for dinner, I am curious about some of their entrees. So glad you could come for this dinner!

  5. It was great trying so many things! The crab nuggets and salad was one of my favorites, along with that fried lobster.

  6. Your photos are stunning!! You ladies must have had a blast :)

  7. Too bad I wasn't able to join you guys. Everything looks soooo good. Great pics!

  8. Joining the chorus: your photos are awesome!

    I tried Nix's Mate after reading these blog posts. I was especially looking forward to the lobster appetizer, which definitely lived up to my expectations.

    Due to a series of unfortunate events, I ended up accidentally deleting all my photos from that dinner. I do want to write a blog post about Nix's Mate but I don't want to do it without photos, so I think I'll be returning at some point for that lobster appetizer — maybe for lunch this time instead of dinner.

    Thanks for posting this!


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