To Nightingale 9 for Vietnamese flavor with flair
At the new Nightingale 9 in Carroll Gardens, Rob Newton cooks with the zeal of a convert.
The Arkansas-bred chef didn’t encounter the vim of Southeast Asian flavors until he began culinary school, so he’s been capitalizing on lost time ever since.
In a turn from the resolutely Southern menu at his firstborn restaurant, Seersucker, Newton traveled north to south through Vietnam, glomming inspiration as he went.
The food at Nightingale 9 is a compilation of happily edible souvenirs, such as squares of caramelized Phu Quoc peppercorn pork, first braised and then deep-fried ($16), and lard and country ham with a headlining role in fried rice ($10).
The Hudson Valley beef ($14) is cleverer than the menu description lets on. It’s steak frites with passport stamps from France, Vietnam and Brooklyn: Lemongrass and fish-sauce-marinated beef mingle with morning glory greens and potato chips of two textures--some slightly damp from a sauté, others added at the last minute for crunch.
The food’s impact is as fresh as the space. Spare tables are punctuated with bottles of nuoc cham, chile oil, Red Boat fish sauce and bourbon-barrel-aged Bluegrass soy sauce. Use them with abandon.
With fresh flavors like these, we’ll happily sign on as chef Newton’s disciples.
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