I promised to report back after eating at Laurel. The restaurant, with only 22 seats, is an intimate space that somehow doesn't feel crowded. We had the tasting menu, and it was a great opportunity to see the full range of Nick's talents. Excellent food. His front of house staff works so well together--it was a delightful service experience from the time our coats were taken to the time they were delivered back to us.
Our favorite dishes of the night were: the Torn New Jersey Scallops with Mutsu Apple and Celery (which I think was similar to his concept for the fish challenge); the Ricotta Gnocchi with Pancetta (his daughter's favorite dish that got him a Top Chef episode win); and an amazing Roasted Walu with Soybeans over a Nettle Puree. My husband, as have so many professional reviewers, adored his dessert, Caramelized White Chocolate Pudding with Cocoa Nibs and Red Wine Quince.
My husband doesn't watch Top Chef. When I told him the judges kept saying Nick's food was "underseasoned" for a few of the challenges, so people on Top Chef blogs were going nuts, my husband started laughing.
First, all of our dishes were seasoned correctly.
Second, as my husband says, "Did any of those ranters ever taste his food?"