Only a very, very good restaurant could get away with the bizarre/ridiculous reservations policy that the Nautilus practices. So before I go into why you SHOULD dine here, let's discuss why getting a table could be a major pain in the you know what.
The Nautilus only accepts advance reservations for parties of 8 or more in summer. Those in smaller gropings must try for a reservation the day of, and here's the kicker: the restaurant takes its first hour's worth of reservations in person only at 1pm. By 3pm, when the phone lines open, most of the reservations for that night are gone. Some days, a line starts forming outside the restaurant as early as noon.
Why this frenzy for seats? Because the Nautilus is, without hyperbole, like no other restaurant on the island. It has the feeling of a place you'd covet reservations for in Chicago or New York City, what with its indy music soundtrack; its inventive cocktails; its bubbly and very young staff (and owners); and the food, which is "of the moment" in a very exciting way. That means small plates, so diners can pack a lot of taste sensations into one meal; and dishes that gracefully mash up influences from two to three countries on (seemlngly) each plate. Some of the recent standouts have been a tuna poke (a Hawaiian version of sashimi), with Indonesian soy and yuzo dressing; a Japanese take on classic Mexican street corn with miso subbing for mayo and a nice crunch from buttery panko breadcrumbs and sesame; and harrissa marinated duck skewers with Indian naan bread dusted with Middle Easter za'atar spices. Desserts, which change nightly, are worth reserving stomach space.
I'll see you on line!