Owners Andrea and Nicolas Delaroque of Michelin-starred NICO in Jackson Square decided they wanted to spend a year off with their daughter in France, and instead of selling the restaurant, a very novel solution was found. Their good friend Paul Einbund of The Morris (whose wife, Vanessa Yap Einbund, designed Nico’s website) and his team are running an interim concept for the year with Nico’s wildly talented chef de cuisine, Jordan Guevara. The year-long, extended pop-up is aptly named GAP YEAR AT NICO.
The collaborative project features a tasting menu ($140) with wine pairings ($110), as well as an à la carte menu for those who want to go that route (um, there’s côte de bœuf). Guevara’s cuisine is intricate, both flavor- and technique-driven, and strongly influenced by classic and vintage French recipes—you will see small notations on the menu that refer to the original source (the chef’s cookbook and page number), so AD13 refers to Alain Ducasse, page 13. But these current dishes at Gap Year are not facsimiles—instead, they were inspired by the originals and revised and riffed on.
Just look at how glamorous and gorgeous they are—and Einbund tells me they’re not just pretty plates, the’re made with the development of deep flavor in mind, like the painstakingly made duck pithivier. How fantastically soigné. (It all begins to make even more sense when you learn Guevara was an assistant for Bocuse d’Or Team USA 2019.) And hold the phone: I can’t believe the elegant presentation of the turbot, with bone marrow, turnips, endive, and sauce matelote ($80). (And by the way, the stunning caviar course comes with a full ounce of caviar, freshly opened just for you.) Pastry chef Alice Kim is also reportedly doing some wondrous things, like a Calvados mille-feuille, fantastique!
Einbund, of course, has crafted next-level wine pairings to match the elevated experience of the six-course tasting menu, primarily featuring his top choices of Champagne, and two still wines. And here’s a bonus feature: since they’re pouring so much Champagne for the tasting menu, you can order some really special selections by the glass. I say pop in and treat yo’self at the charming eight-seat bar. Of course, the madeira-loving Einbund has added 10 selections, and he tells me the pairing of the chestnut soufflé pancake with black truffle and Brillat-Savarin with madeira is just phenomenal, so that’s another way you can enjoy a little something-something at the bar. And there are culinary-driven cocktails from bar manager Natalie Lichtman for you to try as well, with ingredients like sudachi and tarragon.
Einbund tells me the team is working very collaboratively, like servers offering input on wine, with a lot of crossover in their roles as they all push to offer a very special experience. You have one year to start working your way through this menu (which will assuredly be constantly changing) and cellar, time to get to it. Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington.
Caviar, leek, crème fraîche. Photo courtesy of Gap Year at Nico.