Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Fine Establishment

By: Chef Mark and Kerri Painter--Mark of Excellence

Last week it was my wife’s birthday. We cruised up to Denver and discovered a cool new venue. It’s called Nissi’s. It's in Lafayette, just outside of Boulder—here’s the link --

We danced all night to music by Chris Daniels and the Kings—these guys play blues, funk, rock and creole jazz with a full on horn section. Here's their link –
We think you should check these both out. Here’s why:

Nissi’s is cool!! Cool artwork, awesome food, and a gracious owner.

We walked in to a warm greeting by the hostess and were taken to our table that turned out to be right next to the dance floor across from the band. We found out later, the hostess was the owner, Teresa. The room was decorated nicely with large paintings and soft lighting. The building and atmosphere were upscale, maintained and pleasant. The wait staff was friendly, clean and uniform in their appearance. Nissi's ambiance is welcoming and creates a feeling of comfort for it's clientele.

Here are some of our observations about the food, wine & service:

We had several small dish menu items. We enjoyed the hummus, crab cakes, tenderloin and calamari. The dishes were nicely presented. We thought the crab cakes and sauce on the tenderloin were very well executed. I have to say, that after preparing crab cakes in several culinary competitions, I am a pretty good judge of a crab cake. That being said, the mashed potatoes on the tenderloin dish had a taste that spoke of too much time in the steam table. Fresh prep makes all the difference to a trained taste bud. Also, the hummus remained on the plate when all the accompaniments were gone—maybe they could add more items for dipping or decrease the hummus portion—preferably the former. All in all, we thought the food was worth the price and very tasty.

We had a wine flight, too. There were several flights to choose from. Ours featured wines from South America. There was a Carmenere from Chile, a Malbec from Argentina and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. We asked our server for some information about the Carmenere. It turned out, he had traveled to South America with the owner’s son recently and could actually give us some information about the wine with confidence. The wine flight arrived on a wine glass tree where all three glasses hung. It was nice to be able to sample these types of wines side by side and not have to purchase an entire bottle or full glass to do so. We later selected a bottle of the Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Region of California. It went nicely with our tenderloin. Their wine list was well rounded, not too extensive and fairly priced.

Our server was nice and informative. We had a couple of complications and he handled them fairly well.—my gin and tonic was “off”. We finally decided it must have been a gin and soda. He made a comment that sometimes the gun behind the bar is not always accurate, but ultimately brought back a new, properly made drink.

Glassware and other unneeded items remained on the table until we asked our waiter to take them. Since the table was small, and even if it wasn’t, any items not in use should be removed—especially at a place like Nissi’s. Overall, our service was good and we were happy.

We finished our night with a birthday dessert. The waiter brought a molten lava chocolate dish. In case you can’t tell, when you cut into it, the warm chocolate sauce flows out of the cake. Since my wife isn’t a chocolate fan, our server brought her a complimentary caramel apple dessert that was a la mode. These treats wrapped our evening in note of sweetness.

The music rocked. We danced all night. My wife’s brother, Chris, is the drummer for the band. Here’s his website: This band is fun to dance to and plays music for many tastes. Check ‘em out!!

Check back soon for new reviews on other fine establishments…