If you ever visited The Bird (or Frenchy’s Naturel) in Logan Circle, you might be surprised at what it’s become. Now under new ownership, the venue has transformed into Nina May, a quaint, cozy, upscale restaurant with a gold and blue toned decor and a menu of local, seasonal mid-Atlantic fare.
When dining at Nina May, you can choose between an a la carte menu or a chef’s choice for $39. The chef’s choice is pretty fun and takes the work out of choosing what to order, and chef Colin McClimans will be happy to accommodate any dining restrictions. I went with the chef’s choice (vegetarian version) and didn’t regret it for a second. $39 felt like a steal for the amount of food I got.
We kicked off with one of the most stunning beet salads I have ever seen. Hunks of sweet poached apples come nestled amongst crescents of magenta and tangerine colored beets, which are adorned with pickled parsley root and crunchy flakes of parsnip chips. On the side was our bread basket, which was filled with buttermilk parker house rolls and served with fresh butter. I ate more of those than I would like to admit.
Next came stewed marrowfat beans, served in a pool of earthy rutabaga puree. The beans are super meaty and dense, with a smoky flavor profile. The combination of the beans with smoked portabella mushrooms and the rutabaga mushrooms make it the epitome of a winter comfort food dish. A few dollops of whipped chevre cheese lightens and brightens the dish.
My favorite dish of the evening was a heirloom carrot and brown butter cavatelli, which was as divine as it sounds. The cavatelli was chewy and perfect, swirled in a brown butter sauce with caramelized onions, browned Brussel sprouts and walnuts for a bit of crunch. It is decadent, fragrant and luscious.
I ate every last bite of the cavatelli, but somehow, I managed to save room for dessert. Pumpkin crème is too good to pass up, and this one is so good it made my Best Desserts of 2019 list. As I noted there, the glassy, crunchy burnt sugar top of this crème brulee provides the perfect textural contrast to the luscious pumpkin infused custard in the crème brulee. The hunks of spongy angel food cake that adorn the dish are an added bonus; don’t hesitate to use them to mop up every last smidge of the custard.
Visit Nina May before this gem is discovered by the masses. You’ll forget The Bird ever existed.