Nectar of the 'Burbs

Most people who don’t live in Osseo have no opinions about Osseo: Sounds a lot like Orono. Is it in Wisconsin? But I’m here to report: It’s here, it’s near, and it’s got Croatian wine!

Osseo is sandwiched between Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, and Champlin in the north metro. Its great crown jewel, as far as I’m concerned, is the new Nectar Wine Bar & Bistro, which succeeds on several levels: great service, a surprisingly creative wine list, and a thoughtful and focused menu by chef and owner Kevin Nordeen, who keeps entrée prices in the low $20s and changes his menu every two weeks.

He’d be wise, however, to keep the Jamaican curry chicken on the menu every night. It was spectacular: The chicken practically fell off the bone, melted in my mouth, and sang me a happy reggae song. (Nordeen told me he dated an ex-girlfriend six months too long simply because he was in love with her Jamaican mom’s chicken.)

The macadamia-nut-crusted halibut is a holdover from his old restaurant, Kay’s Wine Bar in Maple Grove. The fish is topped with a bright and peppy mango salsa.

I liked the idea of the pan-seared duck breast with a blueberry-port wine reduction, but the duck skin could have been crispier and the sauce a little less sweet.

There are only six entrées and eight starters on the menu, which seems smart. I prefer that kind of laser-sharp focus. Several appetizers are cheese plates (I especially liked how caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar worked with Brie) perfect for pairing with a glass of wine.

And why not try something new? That Croatian wine is called Korta Katarina. Apparently, a Minnesota couple that went to Croatia on a mission trip years ago fell in love with the country, bought a vineyard, and eventually persuaded Nordeen to sell their vintages. Posip, a white wine, had a clean start and a nice mineral finish. We splurged on a $70 reserve bottle of Plavec Mali (a Zinfandel-like red wine), and were rewarded with a super dry, spicy, earthy delight.

The wine list has 18 wines by the glass, which makes it perfect for trying new varietals and sampling exotic flavors.

Read that again: Exotic wines! In Osseo! A town worth getting to know.

Nectar Wine Bar & Bistro, 204 Central Ave., Osseo, 763-657-7231,

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