Deciding where to go for a dinner date is part of the entire date experience, isn't it? First you have to talk about the type of food, whether you are looking for something casual, convenient and nearby, are up for something new and unknown, or maybe finally try that place you've been meaning to get to. For the Mr., the answer to "What do you want for dinner," is comprised of 2 possibilities: chicken (whether home or out) and Italian. Typically, he wants an Italian style chicken dish when possible. However, he does look the menu over, listen to specials and will still break out of his comfort zone once in awhile, but he has to have that safe dish of Chicken Marsala or something similar on stand-by.
On this cold winter Friday I asked the question of "where" and was answered with "what." I made a few suggestions and he agreed to one that was in nearby Middletown. However, when we arrived the restaurant had an hour and a half wait time due to a nearby performance at the Paramount Theater. Back out into the cold we walked just a few doors down to Nina's. Please do not be upset that this wasn't our first choice, we sometimes forget what else is in the area and were happy, not resigned, with our selection.
I was worried for a moment we would encounter the same problem with a long wait time at this location. However, we were seated almost immediately and this was my view:
I wondered if the large table was reserved for a group that would be seeing the comedy act at the Paramount. Later, I would have my answer.
To begin, a leather bound wine list and a separate cocktail menu are left on the table. Hmmm. Many look amazing...
I do believe if a dish or a drink is named for the restaurant, it must be fairly amazing for them to build a reputation from it or put their name on the line. I begin with a Ruby Red Nina.
We are told the evening's specials from appetizers, salads, soup, and entree choices. I changed my mind about how to begin and selected the night's soup - I have forgotten the name, but can tell you it was a seafood with potato creamy blend without being a puree. And this is how it looked at the start:
The bread was served warm with a generous portion of creamy butter. The soup was delicate in flavors with just a few small pieces of seafood.
Our main courses...
This oricchiette dish was prepared with sausage, broccolini, and sun dried tomatoes. Yes, I had to pick out an ingredient as well. The Mr. takes a few of my unwanted sun dried tomatoes and when we decide to surrender and admit we can't eat another bite, our server laughs at our little mounds of peas and sun dried tomatoes. The remainders are wrapped without the offending bits.
In the meantime, a large family has arrived for the reserved table. A young girl, perhaps 6 years old, is seated at one end. She has a large orange flower in her hair and is likely wearing a specially selected outfit for the occasion. I notice her first as she is quietly pouting, full bottom lip out, no tears and no words. It seems she did not get to sit next to the person she wanted. The table is full with 2 other young ladies, perhaps siblings and a handful of young 20-somethings and perhaps an almost 30 something as well as "Mama." Everyone is happy and on their best behavior. Gathering for a full table selfie, taking turns with cell phone cameras and eventually plugging 2 in to charge during the meal. I can't help it, I am tuned in. This table could be a future story prompt. What were they celebrating? What were the relationships? Who will the young lady with the flower in her hair grow up to be? I am fascinated, but know my interest can easily be misinterpreted. The Mr. laughs at me. He knows and understands.
Dessert? Why, yes. Although I ask for it be packed to go and I order a cappuccinpo while the Mr. sips a coffee he fills with creamer and sugar.
It was a wonderful date night. The food was expertly prepared, well seasoned, and served while piping hot. The conversation flowed well and I was just as entertained as if I had attended a show. The potential story still simmers in my mind's back burner.
The next night I enjoy half of my "mixed berry tart" which I would rather refer to as a galette. I wonder if menu items are named so the masses understand what they are ordering, rather than for accuracy.
We had a wonderful time at Nina's and my senses, as well as my belly, were Fed Well.