By Kale Knox
I’m standing there on the corner of Canon and Santa Monica watching Saturday night traffic bounce back in forth like a tennis match. I’m trying to not look too much like Oliver Twist in the midst of native 310s with a bowler hat, black tie, and John Lennon glasses. I find myself at the target destination: Nic’s Martini Lounge.
As I sit with my colleague, a cute little redheaded bird comes to us all wide eyed and bushy tailed with a list of martinis. The décor paints the scene as any well crafted and well funded labor of love would, and when I take my first draw from the martini glass I taste the conviction, but when I look at price of my order I find myself confused.
Come to find that I wasn’t drinking some $1,400 shot vodka made from unicorn piss and diamond sweat. The drinks were pretty adequately priced for the amount and quality of the content. I ordered the Nic’s martini in which hits the pallet with a meaty olive zest and just the right amount of bitter to make the flavors bounce. I would recommend this drink for anyone whom doesn’t enjoy sugar in their alcohol and likes a roundhouse amount of kick with it. I also took on the Maytag Repairman which is the Nic’s with blue cheese infused in it. This is probably more of an acquired item, though it was quite tasty as well.
Sitting there, letting the drink marinade my tongue and liver, head mixologist, Louise, approaches and tells us about the TLC put into these drinks. Now ladies and girly men don’t be deterred here, there are plenty of sweet, pretty and frilly drinks crafted with the same precision as I spoke of with what I ordered as well. Louise informs us about his process of making sure that every drink has its own distinct concentration in effort, and that he does his best to spare the fluff with his concoctions.
After this, the waitress drops a plate of Nic’s signature oysters in front of us and my eyes grow to quarter size. I scrape my fork in between the contents and the shell and it lifts right out quite effortlessly. The flavor of spinach and garlic compliments the slightly cooked sea dweller extremely well, not overbearing it with their own distinct natural flavors. The meat of the oyster is soft, just off the cusp of slimy the way I like it. good full meaty volume for a martini beer nut.
The next item brought to the offering plate is what they call the sexy bites, in which is ahi tuna wrapped in butter lettuce topped with ginger and radish cole slaw. It was good but I always find myself disappointed with fusion food as the flavors and textures always seem a little chaotic, but the tuna was prepared extremely well I will say.
We were served 3 plates of Nic’s distinct signatures: frenchy duck and duck liver pate, bite sized baked potatoes, and the piece I find myself walking away from with the most satisfaction, the vodka cured salmon plate. The apricot preserve was too over powering leaving me with only remnants of spicy pate. When you top a potato with cavier, crème fraiche “in which I had no idea actually existed in the first place. I thought it was a South Park invention.” and chives you get quite a concoction of unified oral fixations. I had a couple of these, because their relative size made them easy to gulp down and be ready for more. No homo.
Lastly I came to the vodka cured salmon topped with capers, dill aioli on top of pumpernickel bread. Salmon cured with vodka takes on a much sweeter reception to the senses which I found surprising, and the compliment of earthy tastes such as dill and pumpernickel made me reel my eyes back into my head. Plus it had capers and who doesn’t fuck with capers?
After this the vodkateur Larry “Nic” Nicola himself greets us to say that we have been selected to check out and get fuzzy in the Nic’s Vodbox. So we walk over to this sealed off glass room that reads like the area 51 laboratory in independence day, with all sorts of neon, mood lighting and about 80 different bottles of vodka from all over the globe sitting on the walls and the table. It was time to get proper, and in Nic’s Vodbox it is mandatory. The man instructs us that we must where large fur jackets “faux fur for the peta heads who need the reassurance” and Russian winter hats, and so we do not object.
The room is kept at 28 degrees Fahrenheit and my anemic ass isn’t going to be the first person to die of frost bite in Beverly Hills. As we walk in, a lady greats our convolution with knowledge of all these worldly vodkas. Then she asks what our usual drink of choice is, and so as usual when someone asks me that question I pop my collar, make the gun hand gesture, point at them and say “scotch” in my fonziest voice possible. She directs us to suitable comparisons in the vodka persuasion. I drank a lot of really tasty and well crafted vodkas in there, but because I drank them in such succession I only remember one of them: the 666.
I walked away with a rather enjoyable sensation about Nic’s Martini Lounge, though when I say walk, I really mean stumble. The food, the décor, the spirits all encompassing, makes this place a nice outing for friends, colleagues, significant others, or Russians.