The restaurant just switched (last night to be specific) to "small plates" to try and lower the prices (and get more business). So really - they just smushed their menu all together and made portions a little smaller on the higher $$ items. But I got 3 courses (and water) for $30 - so it's not a terrible deal.
First - the food - really good. Not Pigall's good - but really good. Lots of very interesting dishes and they all tasted great! Portions were a bit small - but the variety was great. There are also lots of vegetarian options as well.
Some of the highlights:
* Salad that had grapefruit, avocado and fennel. I hate fennel - but this salad was really really great!
* Scallop - it's down to 1 scallop now - but my friend said it was cooked perfectly and tasted great.
* Polenta - WOW!!!! I really loved it - actually wished I would have switched plates. I'm not usually a big fan but this was excellent and had a ragout on top which was excellent.
* Lamb Porterhouse - very nicely cooked - could use more sauce.
* Chocolate Torchon - this dessert was definitely the hit of the night.
Overall the food tasted really good and was very interesting. There were lots of unique combinations and you can tell someone's been watching Top Chef. Everything had a lot of flavors. They might even want to take a step back and simplify things a bit.
One other note - they offer 1/2 glasses of wine for $3! I'm not a big drinker but that is a nice feature and allows you to try a variety of wines for very affordable prices.
Second - the location. It's a former Pizza Hut on Dream St in Florence and it shows. You're surrounded by fast food chains which isn't so bad because you can't see out the windows. But - it still looks like a Pizza Hut. I think they've done a decent job - but it's a bit cold and sterile. Unfortunately I have a feeling it's not a great location either. You're not going to drive by and say "I was going to go to Captain D's - but hey - let's try this NuVo place!". They better do some heavy advertising to compensate for their crappy location.
Third - the service. The waiter was thrown for a loop by the new menu which he was alerted of when he arrived that night. He walked us through the "highlights" which ended up being his take on the entire menu. Highlights should be just that - pick 3 things and let us ask you if we have more questions. The server was very nice and had a good energy. The service was okay through dessert - for the $$ you expect a little bit quicker on the plate clearing, etc... (at least that's what my friend was complaining about). But once dessert came - service was forgotten. They didn't clear our plates for 15 minutes - then we had to wait 10 more minutes for our checks - then every one of our four checks was wrong (like literally we each had something from someone else's meal - and an extra entree) - then it took 20 minutes for them to fix our checks and then another 15 minutes to get the credit cards back. So from the time we finished dessert to the time we left - was AN HOUR! It was absurd. There were only 4 tables seated! Just so you know I'm not exaggerating - we arrived at 7 and left at 945...
So overall - it's hard to say - the food was good and very interesting - the prices are not too bad - comparable with Relish (another attempt at "small plates") - the location isn't promising and the service fell apart.
Should you go? I'd say give it a shot! I mean - the food is interesting - but just don't have any set plans for after!
Not really sure the rating - I guess a 3 for food and a 1 for the rest...so we'll average out at a 2 star = Eh, I'll go back if you're buying!