With a new chef at the helm turning out terrific gourmet pub fare, a variety of award-winning independent small batch brews, and energetic management bringing in live music every night, NIXS Brew Pub is fast becoming a downtown favorite.
Since The Atlantic Café closed, a number of ventures have come and gone at this 15 South Water Street location. This spring, it became the newest location for NIXS Brew Pub, which has three other NIXS in New England. Judging from the line of people we encountered last week who were willing to wait for a table here at 6 pm, word has gotten out that this brew pub is doing things right.
Chef Richard DeRusha’s menu at NIXS has broad appeal. From 11:30 am till 10 pm (11 pm on weekends), they serve a tempting mix of bar treats, classic pub food, NIXS favorites, and burgers, soups, and salads. DeRusha has also added a number of his own creations which are featured as entrees and as nightly specials.
NIXS is surprisingly family friendly, even during the evening hours. While the front of the pub features the spacious bar, high top tables, and live entertainment, the back of the restaurant (with a great view of the harbor!) is quieter, with tables that can comfortably seat larger parties and accommodate high chairs.
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NIXS is surprisingly family friendly, even during the evening hours. While the front of the pub features the spacious bar, high top tables, and live entertainment, the back of the restaurant (with a great view of the harbor!) is quieter, with tables that can comfortably seat larger parties and accommodate high chairs. There’s a respectable kids’ menu with entrees, beverage, and dessert for just $10, and the guest kid on our team happily devoured his hot dog and his fries and reached for some of the apps we were sharing.
One of his favorites and ours are the Polenta Fries. One of the many gluten-free choices offered at NIXS, these tasty treats are great for sharing. Thicker than traditional fries, they are crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, they’re served with a spicy chipolte sauce for dipping.
There’s an entire section called Shareables on the NIXS menu that features familiar pub classics like Fried Calamari, Nachos, Buffalo Wings, and Chicken Quesadilla alongside several not-so-familiar offerings (at least not in New England), like Fried Pickles and Hush Puppies. There are items in this section that you could share or you could keep all to yourself for a very satisfying light meal.
We were very impressed by the Lobster Knuckle Sliders—four-bite sandwiches sporting some of the best lobster salad we’ve had (heavy on the lobster meat and light on the mayo), pickled cucumbers, lettuce, and a dab of “special sauce” on sesame buns. They come three to a plate: two for you and one to share.
We were split on the two versions of tacos: half the team scored the Tuna Tacos as favorite appetizer; the other half scored the Short Rib Tacos as tops. The Tuna Tacos are all about the fresh fish and the texture, with the fold of each crunchy corn tortilla shell smeared with creamy whipped avocado topped with plenty of very fresh tuna tartare, finished with crisp shredded lettuce, a touch of cilantro, and a drizzle of spicy aioli.
The Short Rib Tacos emphasize the combination of flavors and temperatures. The grilled flour tortillas are served topped with warm short ribs, sauteed onion, black beans, goat cheese, and chilled green apple slaw with red pepper rings.
We’ve been hearing good things about the burgers at NIX, with their “After 10 Burger” being especially popular, but we’ll have to come back for those. The sandwich we sampled for this week is their Captain NIXS Famous Tuna Eggy. We couldn’t resist: we’d never seen anything quite like it. This sandwich starts with thick slices of multigrain bread, the top slice coated with melted cheddar, the bottom spread with caper mayonnaise, layered with pickled cucumber slices, topped with the delicious spicy tuna tartare that is featured in their Tuna Tacos, and topped with a fried egg. It’s a delicious flavor combination, and we were not at all surprised when Manager Jim Agnew told us that the Eggy is a top seller at every NIXS location.
NIXS menu includes half a dozen different salads that you can make into a meal by adding grilled or blackened chicken, shrimp, steak, or lobster salad. We sampled the Beet Salad and were delighted to find that it rivals more expensive versions at island fine dining establishments. The mix of arugula and romaine leaves is lightly dressed and topped with roasted red beets, candied hazlenuts, and dollops of whipped goat cheese.
With a menu this extensive, it’s not a problem if some in your party want sandwiches, some want pizza, and others want a full meal. NIXS offers five entrees plus chef specials and catch of the day. The Brick Chicken is another NIXS favorite, and one bite told us why. The half hen is moist and succulent, with a deliciously crisp skin. Creamy whipped potatoes, garlicky spinach and sweet honey & thyme carrots accompany.
Beer battered Fish and Chips is another winning choice. The “chips” are salty and thick with their edges nice and crisp. The fish, a very large haddock filet, is cooked just right—crunchy breading enveloping moist, flaky fish. This is served simply with sides of cole slaw and tartar sauce and a couple of lemon wedges. It’s a perfect meal to enjoy at a harborside café.
Another highlight is Chef DeRusha’s Baked Lobster Mac & Cheese. The twirly cavatappi is just this side of al denté and drenched in cheese sauce that is rich and creamy enough to cling to the pasta without being overly thick. Chunks of lobster claw and knuckle meat are stirred throughout, and the crumbs on top are broiled to a golden brown.
As full as we were, at the urging of Jim Agnew, we ordered dessert. And we’re very glad we did! The Double Chocolate Godiva Cheesecake was delicious.
But our favorites were the Zeppole, puffy and light ricotta fritters dusted with cinnamon that were like deep fried clouds
And the Hazelnut Brownie Sundae, that was warm and sweet and big enough for four.
We left NIXS Brew Pub just as the band was setting up to perform. One of these nights, we’ll make it out of the house without kids to sample the nightlife at NIXS. For now, we’re just happy we came for dinner with the crew. We’ll definitely be back for more!
NIXS Brew Pub
15 South Water Street • 508-680-7342 www.nixsnantucket.com • reservations accepted
serving continuously from 11:30 am
main menu items till 10 pm; burgers from 10 pm to 1 am
bar open till 1 am • Weekend Brunch
Dinner entrees range in price from $19 to $34
Burgers, Sandwiches, Lighter Fare from $14 to $19
live bands • take-out • kids menu • full bar