Image: Chicken, Po Boy, Tater Tots, Onion Rings
Last Updated: 7/5/2021
Current Status: Nina May is back doing sit-down with expanded covered outdoor seating. They continue to do Take-out and Delivery.
Before Times Review:
First Visit: November 2019
Add Nina May to the list of personal, neighborhood spots that have the potential to reach a larger audience. It may not reach the status of places like Tail Up Goat or Ellē, but it is worth paying attention to and definitely is enjoyable. The cooking is locally-sourced, New American, with all the primary ingredients coming from within 150 miles.
The menu is made up of plates of varying sizes and are meant to be shared. Some, like the serving of half a “Pennsylvania” chicken, are substantial. Others are more like sides or tapas servings. The food starts at a familiar place and adds in some creativity, skill and whimsy. Siestsema fell in love with the clams and chorizo with rye bread crumbs – and it is a very good dish. Autumnal beans over a rutabaga puree was more complex than it sounds. The straightforward beet salad throws in parsnip crisps for fun (but otherwise is a bit bland). Oyster Po Boy is Parker House rolls, battered and fried oysters, and katsoi kimchi. Green eggs and ham is kale pasta with ham and a creamy sauce. One person said it tastes like the color green. The baseline level of quality for the dishes is high, and the chef does not let his playfulness get in the way of putting out food that is primarily satisfying.
They do have an interesting option to consider, especially if you are with a group and coming hungry, which is for $39 they will send a series of savory dishes until you say uncle. Our group managed to try about one-third of the menu this way and probably came out ahead.
The wine list is limited with about 20 bottle choices and five each of red and white by the glass. They are decent and inexpensive options, but nothing exciting. The beer list is also short and could use some attention. The cocktail choices are more robust with nearly 20 in-house variations in addition to classics.
The homey two-story setting for Nina May covers a lot of space, which as it goes through growing pains can cause problems. Dishes can come quickly and then hit a dry spell as either the kitchen or the staff gets behind. These are solvable kinks, but something to brace for on a busy night. There are not-large bars both upstairs and down. There is a sidewalk patio seating in good weather and an upstairs outdoor space that can be enclosed. The layout has not changed from the previous occupants (The Bird and Frenchy’s Naturel), but it does seem to have better odds out of the gate. It is worthy of support and justifies a walk out of the way to get there.
Other Guidance: It is a neighborhood spot not need for anything more formal than jeans. There are multiple GF and vegetarian options and they will work with you.
Washington Post: Tom’s First Bite was positive: “Almost every dish I’ve tried has some lovely twist.”
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