Nem is up a flight of stairs, with only a discrete sign hanging out of sight to signal it’s there. Mostly, everyone knows where it is. Ask them what they do and they will say “tapas”. Misleading because it makes me imagine sardines, squid rings, potatoes with mayonaise and spice tomato sauce: Spanish tapas.
At Nem – you can’t even get a plate of jamon iberico (*gasp*) and I mistook their interpretation of bravas (€4.50) – potato skins served with sour cream and spicy sauce – as a riff on the American snack.
No. I would call it small plates. Along Nopi lines. Although obviously not with the subtle grandstanding of Nopi that has quite the kitchen army behind the plate of grilled peaches and unctuous burrata. There are only two men in the kitchen at Nem, one with a full head of chocolate coloured hair and beard to match and one shaved clean.
They are responsible for the dozen or so plates on the menu. Oriental steak tartar (€6.50). Sea bream sashimi with sesame (€6.75). Baked beetroot with yogurt and tahini (€6) (tahini in Spain!). There is one waitress to serve 40 covers. So sometimes the chefs come out to deliver the plates.
It’s that kind of place. Which makes me bring up the number of covers, they could easily take them up to 60 and it would still feel roomy. They could also open for lunch. But they don’t do either. I get the feeling they are content to go on as they do, making people happy and preserving balance in their life.
It goes without saying that you have to order the Nem (€5), fat like a sausage, served out of the fryer, with lettuce and mint leaves. And their puddings… I love their chocolate coulant and normally I can hardly contain my disdain for this knee jerk pud.
No walk ins – unless you show up for 7:30 or snag a seat at the bar. You will have to reserve.