Nuage Seafood Restaurant & Bar
Two worlds combine to make for the perfect meal
Believe it or not, sometimes being a restaurant critic is no fun at all. It can be a dream job when all goes well, but not on those nights when everything ordered is awful and the wait staff pretends you are invisible. We were coming off one such meal and then we ate at Nuage. Suddenly the sky turned blue, birds in the trees chirped, we no longer needed a facelift, and we won Powerball. Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but from start to finish Nuage produced without a doubt one of the best meals we have eaten anywhere in a long time. There is little wonder that this gem has been around for almost a decade. Any restaurant that withstands the test of time in this town is certainly worth a revisit to see what the owner and chef are up to.
This is a small yet handsome restaurant. When you walk in there is a convivial bar to your left where well-heeled customers chat with one another. Just past the gorgeous array of fresh flowers is your table. Everything is sleek and clean and the tables are draped with fresh white linen. Cocktails were ordered: a classic whiskey sour was crisp and not made from the usual sugary mix. The breadbasket contained a generous selection of three different breads, and squares of high quality sweet butter.
The food at Nuage is billed as “fusion,” a mélange of Japanese and French. Fusion is a trendy buzzword, which all too often translates to a meaningless hodgepodge of dishes that in no way go together. Nuage blithely ignores this pitfall, producing one stellar composition after another. It has been quite some time since every dish ordered was perfect. It is here.
If you love seafood, make sure you begin your meal with rock shrimp tempura in a spicy, creamy sauce. The dish is not at all doughy or thick as tempura often is these days, but instead sprightly and well made. We brought our resident oyster lover with us and a look of delight spread across her face with the first bite of cloud-like fried hamahama oysters refreshed with a light avocado and tobiko sauce. A cold lobster roll appetizer features nubbins of fresh claw meat wrapped in a translucent soybean sheet, and spiked with avocado and cucumber and a similar spicy, creamy sauce that accompanied the shrimp tempura featured. The roll is cut into three cigar segments, perfect for fork or finger.
It is possible to dine well on the noodle dishes: buckwheat noodles chilled with seared tuna and sesame sauce, or intriguing ravioli with prosciutto and peas, blanketed with a black truffle dotted asparagus cream. A selection of salads caught our eye. How nice grilled shrimp or chicken, topped with a basil relish and truffle citrus dressing for the greens sounds for lunch. Seared rare wasabicrusted tuna tops mixed greens dressed with a sesame onion dressing.
Nuage’s menu celebrates fish and shellfish. The Diver sea scallops are seared and splashed with a citrus wine sauce. A fresh Maine lobster dish stars a generous handful of lobster meat dressed in a light champagne butter sauce, and a timbale of truffle-scented risotto comes on the side.
There are wonderful meats on the menu. Some are wildly expensive like the Kobe beef filet mignon (seventy-eight dollars for nine ounces), others are modestly priced but first-rate. We adored the New Zealand rack of lamb, served exactly as we requested (warm pink) and adorned with the lovely timbale of risotto. For us duck is always the true litmus test of a restaurant. We have eaten more than our fill of bad duck dishes: greasy, sugary sweet and too rare. We were compensated for our duck eating missteps with Nuage’s crispy duck (breast and leg), served with bright green string beans and a carrot ginger purée.
Because the portions at Nuage are satisfying but not gut busting, we had room for dessert. We liked all we tasted but the standouts were a mocha cream filled napoleon, light as air, and a fried green tea ice cream ball, cleaved in half. The crust was light and ethereal, and the ice cream grown-up flavored, but still yummy.
Usually writing a restaurant review is a balancing act. Some good, some bad, and it’s the reviewer’s job to see if it all equals a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Nuage left us little to balance. It was all good: great food, attentive service and a pleasant room to pass the time in. You can be sure we will be back.
Seafood Restaurant & Bar
203 East Putnam Avenue
Cos Cob, CT
Cuisine: French Japanese Fusion
Mon.–Thurs. 11:45 a.m.–2:30 p.m.;
5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Fri. and Sat. 5:30 p.m.–11:00 p.m.
Sun. 5:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.