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Josh

Nobie's, Chef Martin Stayer's Charming Farm-to-Table Cuisine on Colquitt Street in Montrose

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Since moving to Houston, I've been on a mission to find my new place.  I'm the kind of creature of habit that needs a local, a home base.  In New York, the dearly departed Redhead, and (also dearly departed) Northern Spy filled that role, and in DC, Boundary Road did the heavy lifting.  While it may be a tad premature to say after only one visit, Nobie's is looking the part here in Clutch City.

Nobie's is named for the chef's grandmother, and radiates a warm, familiar feel from the very beginning.  I think the comforting confines of the former Au Petit Paris help, as do the beautiful vintage speakers displayed throughout, playing an eclectic mix of music off of a stash of vinyl records.  It also helped that we immediately ran into an acquaintance at the bar as we walked in...a welcome occurrence when you're new to a city.  The bar itself is relatively small, with a few stools, and from the looks of it, the full menu is available there.  Cristina and I have a long-documented love of dining at the bar wherever we are, so I imagine we'll end up parked on those stools fairly often.

We started with 2 of the 3 cocktail specials of the moment, the lightly effervescent gin-based Snow on the Pines, and the rye-based Baby it's Cold Outside (served warm, which would've been even better if it weren't 70 degrees in Houston right now).  Both were excellent, and I imagine it would be tough to go wrong ordering whatever the daily cocktails happen to be.  The rest of the drink list is equally well-edited and curated, with 3 interesting draft beer options, and a number of bottles and cans (big ups for Lone Pint Yellow Rose on tap). I took note of the Schlitz tallboy for $3 and $5 shot of Four Roses Yellow Label for another time/context.  I miss my occasional late nights at Boundary Road with a friend or 2, winding down with a slightly superfluous Natty Boh and shot of Old Overholt.

We started with a couple small plates.  The Texas Tartare is a finely chopped steak tartare adapted to our lovely State's tastes with smoked jalapeño and topped with a layer of deviled egg yolk.  Served with nicely toasted bread, this was a hit.  The "Texas" bits were noticeable but played with a measured hand such that they didn't overtake the basic flavor profile of my beloved steak tartare.  This is the kind of thing that can get super gimmicky real fast, and the skill shown with this dish is a real "tell" as to what you can expect from the kitchen here.  The beer battered sweet potato tots came hot from the fryer in a bowl ringed with a whipped goat cheese.  Crispy, soft, salty, cheesy.  So get those.  It was tough to pass up some of the other snacks on offer...the dukkah Chex mix and cool ranch chickpeas sounded great.  Next time.

Our salad of local citrus and fennel was the perfect foil for the richness of the tartare.  Segments of grapefruit and orange mingled with paper-thin slices of fennel, bits of mint, red chili, and black sesame seeds.  This is a simple salad whose execution elevated it beyond my expectations.  There are a few salads on the menu, and if they all receive the care this one did, they shouldn't be missed.  Moving along, we shared the Ricotta-stuffed raviolo with crispy duck confit, and the Aleppo prawns with burnt orange.  The pasta is a rather robust single raviolo filled with house-made herbed ricotta and an egg yolk that covers everything beautifully once you cut into the shell.  This was surrounded with irregularly sized pieces of crisped duck confit.  This was a hearty dish whose richness would have been better appreciated in colder weather, but was still greedily devoured.  The ricotta was light and lemony, and a nice counterpoint to the richness surrounding it.  The prawns were served head-on and simply, seasoned with citrus and Aleppo pepper.  These were well-cooked and delicious, though without any accompaniment on the plate, they felt a bit spare.

We unfortunately skipped dessert to make it to a movie, but there will be plenty of time for that later.  Nobie's hit all the right notes, from the unfussy, comfortable decor, to the friendly, unpretentious staff (none of that "Are you familiar with chef's concept crap), to the soulful, straightforward, ingredient-driven cooking.  There's something for everyone here, from bar snacks and well-chosen wines by the glass, to large-format dishes like a grilled octopus and "Fred Flintstone" ribeye.  My favorite joints always have that flexibility.  Nobie's is a welcome and important addition to the Houston scene.

Keep my seat warm guys, I'll be back soon.

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8 hours ago, Josh said:

The beer battered sweet potato tots came hot from the fryer in a bowl ringed with a whipped goat cheese.

O. M. G. This place sounds great. I'll definitely keep it in mind when I finally make it to Houston.

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We continue to frequent Nobie's, both for dinner and brunch, and they continue to kill it.  The menu changes with such frequency, it's tough to recommend any single item, but you'll be pleased with whatever they happen to be serving.  We went for Father's Day brunch the other day, and had the chance to meet the whole extended Nobie's family.

My special hash with pork belly and smashed & crispy potatoes was excellent. Nicely salted, great textural contrasts with the crispy exterior of both the potatoes and pork giving way to a softer inside. Might throw a little hot sauce on it next time.  The Back to Life Cocktail is actually a glass of bright and tangy seafood cocktail served with saltine crackers.  Nice contrast with the hash.

 

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Cristina and I stopped in to celebrate Whiskey Wednesday (which happened to fall on Valentine's Day this year). Another great meal, especially the North African mussels.  I'm a sucker for Harissa, and these plump dudes are served in a spicy Harissa broth with copious amounts of garlic.  I very much considered lifting the cast iron skillet to my face to slurp in the remainder.

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