Once I took my first bite of crispy fried catfish at Seersucker, I was a fan of restaurant duo Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond. Then my first sip of a frothy cappuccino from Smith Canteen came along, and I fell even more in love with their Southern-inspired esthetic and the culinary expertise they brought to Smith Street. So you can imagine how excited I was when they decided to open a THIRD restaurant in the neighb– a Vietnamese place called Nightingale 9.
After months of anticipation and following Rob’s travels to Vietnam for menu inspiration via social media, the eatery opened on February 21st. I’m usually weary to visit a restaurant the week of an opening, as they’re usually working out some kinks, but the Seersucker/Smith Canteen team had it down pat. The friendly staff made a wine recommendation (local wines, of course!) based on my tastes, so I ordered a carafe. The menu offers Vietnamese street food and some classic dishes. I recommend getting a few things for the table to share, as they are easily share-able plates (and you’ll want to try everything).
My table of two got the Long Island Squid Salad, the Cha Ca Catfish Vermicelli Bowl, and the Caramel Berkshire Pork with jasmine rice. Knowing the restaurant’s history with spectacular catfish, I had to get it, and I’m glad I did because it was my favorite– with two pieces of golden browned catfish placed on a bowl of soft white noodles with peanuts, scallions, and dill. It was so pretty, I almost didn’t want to eat it, but obviously there was no way that was ever going to happen. A caddy of Vietnamese sauces was brought with the meal, adding the option to add a little more sweet, spicy, or savory to your dinner.
The dessert menu was all popsicles. And I went for a creamy coconut carameled sugar pop dipped in crispy crushed peanuts– a flavor combo unlike any other dessert I’ve tried, but the perfect texture combination of icy-creamy-crunchy.
The menu was solid and unique, with Southern touches that take Nightingale 9 beyond just-another-Vietnam spot. The decor pairs well with the menu– communal seating for shareable plates and simple, clean style for dishes that spotlight fresh and local ingredients.
I’ll be back, and I suggest you give it a try too. Check them out on Facebook here.