This bar food could change your life, to misquote some old movie (“Garden State”). Wink and Nod is not just some bar: it’s a classy lounge with super-soothing low lighting, heavy dark woods complimented by red and gold, and split-level seating for added mystery. It’s sultry: Think retro Hollywood vamp.
Wink could have been just a bar, but some bright spark brought in pop-up restaurant chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta, whose proposed Whisk JP deal floundered. Why shouldn’t a bar have great food? Why ruin a good drink with something that’s been thrown in a fryer and sprinkled with pig bits?
Kruta and Kean’s debut Wink menu is snacks and small plates oriented with lustily flavored items like charred cauliflower with pureed sultanas and coriander spiced yogurt; oysters bathed in pungent smoked orange mignonette and chive oil; and Kalbi short-rib, which pairs melt in the mouth rosy beef medallions with fruity jammy pomegranate and whipped potato. One feature is Yakitori in Smoke, cherry wood smoked potted meats served in a Mason jar.
Whisk’s last pop-up on Hanover Street gave the locals a run for their money with the best pastas in the North End, including unmissable pappardelle in silky buttery jus with a lightly poached egg. At Wink, a soft egg tops off fluffy Scarlett Butter Lettuce leaves sprinkled with stilton and herb “crackling,” aka crushed croutons. For dessert, Whisk retools the Twinkie as a freshly made sponge filled with homemade hazelnut brown butter cream, and adds a twist on the rum baba with cannelle, an eggy brioche type pastry soaked in rum.
Teamwork General Manager Curtis McMillan brought in Whisk after becoming a fan of Kean and Kruta’s food. McMillan also curated a short old world wine list that favors strong funky flavors and chose granny-type crystal glasses people wouldn’t have been caught dead drinking from five years ago. Whisk may add its signature tasting menus--these guys live to explore flavors. Whether they do or don’t, this menu works perfectly, as-is.
If you go Entrees: $19-$23. 3 Appleton St., Boston. 617-482-0117. www.winkandnod.com