We were looking for a place with good food and a decent martini, so we found ourselves at Nopa. I've always known this place to be very busy, but optimism trumped experience and we showed up with no reservation on a Friday night. Good thing we wanted to start with drinks, so spending time at the bar waiting for a table was no problem. We enjoyed our drinks and company so much that two hours flew by before we were seated. The staff checked on us regularly to let us know we were moving up the list and were gracious enough to comp us some olives for our patience. It's not the complimentary food that impressed me, but how professional and gracious the hostesses were and how well the bar tenders and servers took care of us.
The flatbread is a must-get starter at Nopa. This time it was topped with sausage and taleggio cheese, a good balance of salty full flavored cheese, sausage and nicely crisped flatbread.
My favorites were the fried brussel sprouts with pieces of fried meyer lemon; and another starter of sardines accompanied by grilled bread and hummus. I would definitely order both of these again.
I also tried the braised short rib which was tender, delicious and a huge portion, though my friend declared that it was not as flavorful as the one I cooked for a dinner party. Full disclosure -- she had consumed several cocktails by that time. We all felt the short rib was good, but could've used some type of counter point to freshen it up after the long braise. Still, it's something she'd order again.
Our other companion had the baked pasta dish which he had claimed was his favorite based on previous visits. This time he thought it was a bit oversalted. Probably just a mistake in the kitchen on a very busy night.
All in all, the food was as good as I remembered it. Solid, delicious, high quality, generally well executed (notwithstanding the pasta), nothing earth shatteringly creative, but food we'd happily eat. A place that we'd happily return to spend an evening eating, drinking, enjoying good atmosphere and excellent service.
Nopa March '08 with photos