Published On: Sat, Apr 30th, 2016

Which dish is grabbing the most attention these days at Nektar in New Hope?

(clockwise from lower left) Octopus with mango and aged balsamic, Avocado Yogurt Dip with spiced pita crisps, Fried Cheese "Saganaki," and Goat Cheese and Potato Croquettes with red pepper sauce.

(clockwise from lower left) Octopus with mango and aged balsamic, Avocado Yogurt Dip with spiced pita crisps, Fried Cheese “Saganaki,” and Goat Cheese and Potato Croquettes with red pepper sauce.

While the whiskeys and globe-trotting wine selection enjoy much of the spotlight at Nektar in New Hope, the wine bar’s small plates are always evolving, and several have become standouts.

Among them, owner Nick Gialias’s octopus recipe has emerged as a customer fave at Nektar. It will pull you in, too.

Nick’s family background left him well-armed to tackle the popular Mediterranean mollusk.

“I spent a lot of time growing up in Greece,” said Gialias. “Octopus was something I always liked. It looks scary to some people, but almost everyone who knows seafood, likes it.”

While there are myriad ways to prepare the delicacy, Gialias believes that the geographic origin of the creature matters most to the ultimate quality of the dish, and favors the pinkish Spanish “pulpo” variety.  At Nektar, it’s served with mango slices, and drizzled with aged balsamic over a bed of arugula.

Octopuses were anathema to 1950s TV hero Diver Dan.

Octopuses were anathema to 1950s TV hero Diver Dan.

As for preparation, “It’s mostly about texture,”  he explained.

“It needs to be heated to break down the cartilage, but not the fat, or else it will be too dry,” said Gialias. “It should be springy, not rubbery, and not mushy, either. Octopus should be tender, with a springiness.”

His secret?

“You’ve got to braise it for the right period of time, let it cool in the braising liquid, then cool all the way down on its own,” he shared. “Then, it’s seared in the pan in a little bit of oil. The mango adds freshness, and the balsamic adds savoriness and acidity.”

The result is one Nektar’s most memorable food selections which, along with the establishment’s airiness, surprisingly good music selection, solid service, superior mixology, and fair pricing, continues to keep this relative New Hope newcomer a hot spot for those seeking the new and different.

Nektar is located at 8 W. Mechanic Street; (267) 743-2109.

 

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