You may be fed up to your heirloom tomatoes with the constant chatter about restaurants practicing locavorism and sustainability. But Nectar’s entire identity hinges on the idea that it’s possible to nourish both the diner and the environment. Hormone-free meats and fish and chemical-free produce weave through Chef/Owner Julie Francis’s minimalist but imaginative menu, which lists local farms and growers. In some establishments this comes off as pretentious, but when you consider the unspangled simplicity of the room and the quiet, earthy dishes, it’s evident this is a fiercely personal choice.
Of the 15 or so plates offered each night, you may find raw milk cheeses from Kenny’s served with local honey, house-made fig chutney, and spiced almonds for dessert; or a starter that combines Sheltowee Farm’s mushrooms with triple cream mascarpone and basil pesto as a companion to plump herb gnocchi. Duck and chicken, goat and beef from nearby small-herd farmers are paired with seasonal vegetables—cauliflower, Asian pear, and fennel slaw with the roasted duck breast; a chipotle-tinged sweet potato mash under an assertive achiote-rubbed chicken. Francis’s popular monthly dinner club series, a fixed price menu of five courses planned around one ingredient (Meyer lemons from Madison’s, Blue Oven breads, and Chocolats Latour have all been recent headliners) extends and enhances the local theme. It is as much a celebration of good, simple food as a manifesto.
1000 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout
Rank Last Year: 6
Photograph by Ryan Kurtz
Originally published in the March 2011 issue.