Did you know that the Financial District restaurant Nix’s Mate is actually named after a tiny Boston Harbor Island of the same name?
The island Nix’s Mate has an interesting history, one that involves pirates (arrrrrrr), including pirate chief, William Fly. The restaurant Nix’s Mate happens to have a private dining area named after Fly. Fly, along with two other pirates, is buried on Nix’s Mate, the island, which appears and disappears with the tide. Being a lover of the sea and the islands, I thought the restaurant concept was pretty cool, and I was excited when Lin brought plans together for a bunch of Boston bloggers to have dinner there. My fun dining companions for the night included Daisy, Erica, Lin, Lisa, Megan, Meesh, and Jacki.
I arrived a little early to Nix’s Mate and decided to get out of the humidity and to have a cocktail. I instantly loved the restaurant’s décor. Light wood, high ceilings, lots of light, and my favorite, various shades of grey, give it a soothing, relaxed feel.
Nix’s Mate has a nice cocktail list, but what really jumped out to me was the Ginger Collins. (I’d also like to see them add a Champagne cocktail!). A friendly server took my order, and I was left to relax on one of the comfy leather couches by the window while I waited for the group to arrive. The lounge area is really a great space.
Candied ginger. . . yum! I can’t say that I loved this drink though. I was hoping it would have a kick of ginger spice, but it was overpowered by gin flavor. It was good, but not what I expected, and I don’t think I would order it again.
Once everyone arrived, we took our seats at a large, round table in the corner. Surrounded on two sides by big windows and lit from above by this cool chandelier, our table was a great space for group dining.
As food bloggers often do, we ordered a ton of small plates and shared them all.
Bacon-wrapped scallop skewers, maple butter – I thought that these scallops, while deliciously salty and sweet, were a little on the small side, and I definitely wished that there were more on the plate since they were so good.
Braised Veal Cheek “POT AU FEU” Roasted baby vegetables, bone morrow – I actually didn’t try this, but the table seemed to like it. It looked like a nice dish for fall or winter and had a pretty, rustic presentation.
Harbor Island Flatbread – Salami & pepperoni, tomato gravy, mozzarella, leeks, spicy fried rock shrimp – I really wanted to love this flatbread, but I thought it was pretty bland. The shrimp were standard fried shrimp, not spicy. The most flavor came from the pepperoni, which helped, but it didn’t really taste that different from a regular old pepperoni pizza.
Fried Maine Lobster Caramel! – Warm Vermont cheddar, green onions, chilis – Everyone raved about this dish. Fried lobster and caramel? It’s kind of difficult to even describe, but it was amazing. It’s worth visiting Nix’s Mate for this alone!
Boston Bibb Salad – Pecans, blackberries, caramelized onion dressing, cornbread croutons – This was a nice, light, and fresh salad, and I love the blackberry and croutons. I didn’t notice much flavor in the dressing though, unfortunately. I love caramelized onions and dips/dressings made with them, and I hoped for that wonderfully sweet flavor.
We also shared the Tuna Carpaccio Nicoise and the Polpette Vignole (meatballs in clam sauce), and while the tuna was definitely a group favorite, I just didn’t find it very memorable. I did love the meatballs; they had a little bit of a kick, and I found the meatball and clam combination to be interesting.
Food bloggers pretty much always order dessert, so we decided to split four of the items on Nix’s Mate’s dessert menu. Dessert actually impressed more than dinner!
Bananas Foster bread pudding – This was a table favorite. Bananas with crunchy caramel tops, toasted marshmallow, and brioche. Yum.
For me, the prize for best dessert was a tie. I loved the abundance of strawberries and the buttery shortcake in the strawberry shortcake and the homemade cookies and ice cream in the ice cream sandwiches. The cookies were nice and soft, with chocolate chips giving a great texture.
The fourth dessert we ordered was a hazelnut chocolate torte which was too sweet for my taste buds.
Dinner with a group of food bloggers is always fun, and I am glad I had the chance to dine with this group. My feelings about Nix’s Mate are mixed. I’d love for them to jazz up their by-the-glass wine selection a little with some more interesting options. As far as the food goes, nothing was bad, it just seems like they might be playing it safe with seasonings and other flavors. It is a restaurant in a hotel, so that would make some sense. I think their hearts and minds are in the right place, and there is definitely creativity behind the menu and the space. I’d return for a cocktail at the bar and to try some of the other dishes on the menu that we missed. There are a lot of options!