Aroundphilly.com’s Ken Alan Reviews Nectar in Berwyn

Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2007

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Ken Alan of aroundphilly.com takes a closer look at Nectar…

Nectar
By: Ken Alan
kalan@aroundphilly.com

As a hospitality writer/corporate concierge I continually get asked, “What’s your favorite local restaurant?” A reasonable enough question since I visit so many places, yet the truth is, my favorite restaurants are your favorite restaurants.

Besides, “favorite” is such a subjective term. I’m just as eager to favor that tiny BYOB Italian joint you’ve never heard of (the one that’s hidden away in that workaday section of town) just as I am apt to appreciate those ultra-posh dazzle factories we all know and love. I’d rather take substance and personality over flash and folly, unless, of course, glitz happens to be surpassed by truly amazing food and service.

At least one suburban operation is just such a place – Nectar, a favorite of mine for so many special reasons.

The first one? Ownership. Partner Scott Morrison oversees the day-to-day management, and no piker is he. Morrison also has major interests in the restaurants Basil and Tango, two other notable Main Liners. Then there’s his partner, Michael Wei, from the famed Yangming and Cin Cin. Patrick Feury, an award-winning chef (and Susanna Foo alum) helms the able kitchen, producing some of the most outstanding Asian fusion in the entire region.

Two. Nectar’s feng shui and Zen-i-fied motif utterly appeal to my atmospheric sensibilities: linear and lacquered, sexy and soaring, with its dramatic Buddha silk screen taking center stage. And the scene, no matter how bustling (and it is most nights), always retains a placid serenity.

Next, back to Chef Feury along with his kitchen partner, Kenny Huang. They’ve each pulled back the French focus in recent months, aiming toward a mostly Pan-Asian bend. Fresh sushi, plump dim sum; butter-soft Kobe beef sirloin; sweet day boat scallops paired with tender sirloin; decadent endings such as the Nectar torte and their Vahlrona chocolate pudding…It’s all so very good.

Four. Stellar wine and beer selection aside I really admire the efforts put into the specialty cocktail program there (pomegranate guava martinis – mmmm…). Sakes are available too, though I’d like to see the by-the-glass list increase at some point.

Lastly, nice touches. The $9.95 express lunch on weekdays (choice of soup or salad/choice of sandwich or an entrée) is a steal; there are two comfortable semi-private spaces for business and social affairs; and the main floor dining room is spectacular but for the best view in the house, request a two-top on the mezzanine by the railing (an on-high gander at all the fabulous people down below). Cool rest room alert! Check out the awesomely designed men’s/ladies room – even if nature isn’t calling.

Nectar is continuously called the “Buddakan of the ‘burbs” since it and Stephen Starr’s wildly popular Old City eatery share one common and dramatic theme – a grand Buddha as a showpiece. Don’t let design similarities fool you; Starr’s restaurant is (haute) Chinese while Nectar’s culinary influences lean more toward the Land of the Rising Sun, melding seamlessly with classic Euro touches.

We all have our personal favorites. I gladly admit to considering Nectar as one of mine.

Lunch is served Mon. – Fri., 11:30am – 3pm; Dinner, Sun. and Mon., 5pm- 9pm; Tues. – Thurs., 5pm – 10pm; Fri. and Sat., 5pm – 11pm; Nectar, 1091 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, PA, 610.725.9000; www.tastenectar.com

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