It's nice to find a new pal. Nix's Mate is a revamped space in the FiDi Hilton, but chef David Nevins (Todd English's Olives, Neptune Oyster) is what makes Nix's our new best friend. Nevins reconfigures popular dishes, but he isn't about post-modern destructive deconstruction; his is more a repurposing so that the dish serves the ingredients, not the other way round.
Take Nevins' version of the now ubiquitous, often yawny Caprese salad. At Nix's, chunks of buffalo mozzarella and colorful, incredibly flavorsome heirloom tomatoes are tossed over basil-flecked arugula and salty prosciutto. Somehow, robust, toothsome hunks of tomato and cheese have more bite and taste than flat, neat slices.
The out-of-the-box thinking extends to the Spring Pea Risotto, which is topped with lobster and a pea tendril pesto, and adds another seasonal vege- table: tender spring parsnips. Parsnip? Risotto? Yes, the al dente, buttery risotto is plated around a hidden mound of creamed parsnip, which adds another perfect, sweet element to complement the protein- rich lobster and balance the dish's heartiness. It's genius.
Nix's Surf 'n' Turf will make grown men cry (with joy). This lineup of gigantic shrimp that dwarf the petite filet mignon, comforting cheddar-infused white polenta and bacon-basted green beans knocks the dish out of the park, really.
The independently owned Nix's Mate (named after a tiny Boston Harbor Island) is the Hilton's main restaurant and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a bar life after that. Its airy, open design and neutral color scheme comfortably straddle day and night. Nix's Mate is indeed a modern American brasserie. A fine one at that.
Desserts include Inman Square haven Christina’s ice cream (possibly the best) made into ice cream sandwiches with housemade cookies and sundae sauces, or paired with crisp lemon biscotti and simply garnished with blueberries and mint. Entrees: $14-$34.
If you go
89 Broad St., Boston