You may have noticed that the Sweet Partner in Crime and I do a lot of cooking. Comes with the territory with the wine stuff. Friday, though, we decided we needed to head out. We had a nice night at our disposal and we decided to take a stroll.
NuVo "Modern American Cuisine," originally located in Florence, moved to Newport last September to great reviews and some nice buzz. Embarrassingly, we'd never been there, even though it's less than a mile from The Naked Vineyard. We decided to remedy the situation.
NuVo, for those of you who aren't familiar, is in the old Mokka location on York Street between 5th and 6th. The location isn't large -- it probably can seat around 50 people inside. The back patio (where we sat) seats about another 15 in the back. Like many of the other better restaurants in the Cincy metro area, they do a lot of interesting things with locally raised ingredients. While not everything on the menu was truly "locavore" (Understandably...the Ohio's not a good place to harvest scallops) we could tell the chef, Michael Peterson, made an effort to incorporate wherever he could.
We ordered a couple of glasses of Dom du Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc to go with our salads -- which was NuVo's take on a Caesar (the roasted garlic dressing was delicious), topped with some delicious goat cheese. We were lucky/unlucky with this course. We got large pours of the wine since we got the last pour from the last bottle of that wine. They also ran out of the promised pink peppercorn croutons, so they gave us...well...larger portions of everything else in the salads. Not a bad trade.
Between courses, our server brought us a palate cleanser -- a carrot and orange sorbet topped with a dot of balsamic vinegar. This little bite was a combination of strangely complimentary flavors. Sweet and tart -- with the carrot flavor very much up front. I could have imagined these flavors in a salad instead of a sorbet, but cold and creamy certainly worked.
The night was still fairly warm and neither of us were quite feeling up to anything overly heavy. We ordered a couple of glasses of Ugni Blanc (also by Tariquet) for our entrees. The SPinC ordered the seared red snapper with vanilla and orange glazed veggies over some annatto spiced rice. I had the restaurant-made fettuccini with lobster, pancetta and tomatoes. Ordinarily, I've seen pasta dishes like this done in cream sauces -- but this one was in a sweet corn and lemon juice emulsion.
The snapper was meaty, tasted exceptionally fresh and was cooked to perfection. The combination of the annatto flavors with the fish gave us happy flashbacks to our Aruba vacation several years back. The pasta was exceptional. The lobster's creaminess, the firm flavor of the pasta, the pancetta's smoke, and the acid of the tomatoes were rounded off by the sweetness and tang of the corn and lemon juice. Plenty of care went into making the flavors balance in both dishes. Harmonious is the adjective I'd use.
We didn't end up staying for dessert (we had a date with some Dry Creek zin and chocolate on our back patio at home), but the server did bring a final sweet. Homemade dark chocolates (one with a caramel filling) topped with a little sea salt and a "Dr. Pepper reduction." Yum.
NuVo's certainly not an inexpensive meal. The entrees range from $17-28. Our bill, which included a salad, our wine, and two entrees was $86, but for a nice night out -- definitely worth it. The service was laid back and extremely pleasant. We were able to relaxedly dine without feeling rushed. The only drawback was the décor on the patio -- which was, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent. (The SPinC said, "Give me $500 and an afternoon and I could really spruce this up.") That nitpick aside, we'll definitely be back -- hopefully for one of their Wednesday tapas nights, which sound absolutely fabulous.