April 29, 2007
I love guests, entertaining, and being selfish, so it’s only natural that I would con my boyfriend, Frank, into visiting me even though I only have two weeks of school left. Waiting is just not my thing. After several meals on campus, I decided to show him all that off-campus dining has to offer. When thinking about the restaurants I’ve been to and which were worth trying again, I realized that the only places my friends and I eat at are chains (Applebees, Outback, Friendly’s, Uno’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Panera…McDonald’s Drive-Thru at midnight). Wanting to try something new, I opted for the popular Nola’s, conveniently located down the hill in Clinton.
Nola’s is nestled between the charming storefronts on West Park Row, facing the town’s grassy quad complete with gazebo, fountain and statues. Kirkland Art Center, a steepled building resembling a church, is located across the park on East Park Row, creating a lovely backdrop. The whole scene makes me nostalgic for a childhood I can’t experience (think Christina Ricci in "Now and Then"). Anyway, when we arrived at 6:00 all the tables except for one were reserved, and the waiter assured me that they would be filled to capacity shortly. I was relieved since the only open table was basically on top of another group, and that can just be awkward. After ordering the Saturday appetizer special of assorted sushi rolls and sashimi (unagi, tuna, and salmon), I was able to take in the atmosphere. The room was long, with a trendy bar in the back corner, the walls were brick and displayed assorted gradient oil paintings, and modern, edgy chandeliers provided warm lighting. In addition, the guys sitting next to us sported black glasses, bed-head hair, and perfectly pilled tight fitting sweaters and mused on Kurt Vonnegut. They just had to be NYU boys. Of course, then that would totally explain the atmosphere! I now understood why upon sitting down I envisioned a row of brick tenement buildings instead of the village green. We had stumbled onto a portal to the Village! How clever that they would hide it in Clinton…
But anyway, more about the food. I ordered the “Barramundi,” sea bass with shitake mushrooms in a lemon butter sauce, and opted for the garden salad with ginger dressing. Frank got the “Chicken Nola,” boneless chicken breast wrapped in Prosciutto in a Marsala sauce with the chicken and asparagus soup. I’m not much of a soup person, but after trying some, I eagerly finished the rest. It had a familiar, home made taste (which was odd…how would I know, since I don’t eat soup?), but I savored the pearl onions, asparagus spears and shredded chicken. The sea bass was equally good. The fish flaked perfectly and was complemented by the mushrooms and sauce. I would have preferred a rice pilaf, but the mashed potatoes were too good to complain about. As we were finishing the last bites, the musician who had been setting up the whole evening finally began to play. So I rationally decided to get dessert in order support his creative flow (it would be rude to get up and leave just as he began to play). We split the lava cake: a delicious heated concoction of chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, and drizzled chocolate sauce. Mmmm. Dinner was so good that even the rain didn’t faze me. I had both my urban fix, my wellies and my trench to protect me.