The exterior to Nitrogen Bar, Grill, and Sushi guards a secret. Black tinted glass doors separate passersby from the speakeasy-themed restaurant indoors, where the menu presents craft cocktails, sushi and steak. The connection between the 1920s design, fruity drinks, Japanese cuisine and red meat? They are owner Jack Ford’s favorite things. And if you’re to open your own restaurant, why not toss in everything you like?
The right time
Opening a restaurant has always been a bucket list item for Ford. If he thinks back, the idea may have originated back in college, when he and his friends used to hang out at their buddy’s bar. Ford says he couldn’t have afforded to open his own place then, but 15 years after retiring from a career in Internet advertising, the timing is finally right. Opening the Nitrogen Bar, Grill, and Sushi also aligns with his son Chris’ graduation from Palm Beach State College with a degree in hospitality, allowing for a father-son project and for Chris to take the title of assistant manager.
A look inside
Limited natural light enters the few square windows capped with criss-crossing prison-like bars. Brick accents, crystal chandeliers, dim lights and black leather booths craft an urban, underground setting that pairs with artwork done by local artist Ryan Taliaferro of My Wicked Creations. Ford did the buying and decorating himself, hoping to create a versatile setting. “We have people come in in shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops to business suits,” he says.
Ask Ford what to order off the menu and he’ll rave about the No Soup For You, a vodka-based cocktail that incorporates lemon grass, chili pepper, and lemon and lime juice. “We actually have people come here every day for that drink,” he says. The bar offers 9 other craft cocktails that use at least five ingredients, including made-from-scratch juices and locally grown herbs. The bar also serves 100 different bourbons, 40 to 50 sakes, and high-end wines by the glass using a Coravin Wine System, which extracts wine without taking out any air. To accompany a drink, Ford suggests the Nitrogen Maki rolls, which wrap salmon, tuna, masago, cucumber and cilantro together under a coating on Hamachi, avocado and jalapenos; or the Roasted Freshwater Eel, paired with banana brulee, torched foie gras, orange zest and roasted banana caramel.