February 21, 2010

Nosh Kitchen Bar Review

I don't understand what went wrong. How could it? Tempura fried bacon? Pork belly Reuben? Bacon dusted fries?

But on Saturday night, the kitchen found a way to crush my high expectations, generated by all the favorable reviews flying around about the newly opened Nosh Kitchen Bar.

I don't want to pan the place, it's got a lot going for it. And all the raves give me hope that this was just an off night. That they're struggling with consistency due to being a new (and very popular) restaurant. I appreciate that the kitchen and bar are staffed with some seasoned industry pros and that everyone is entitled to an off night, particularly within the first month of opening. But man, I was disappointed.

Our shining star was the charcuterie plate that Uke Mochi of Edible Obsessions ordered for us. Clockwise around the plate, starting in the upper left, we had Jamon Iberico ($6), Petit Jesus ($6), Foie Gras ($12), and Tuna Carpaccio (Market). Everything on the plate was great, from the silky tuna to the rich sweet Foie. And who doesn't love salty, cured meats?

While we weren't real impressed with the tempura bacon- both the batter and the bacon could have been crispier- the real hiccup of the evening was the Pig Belly Reuben ($10.50). This sandwich is pork belly, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and Russian dressing on toasted light rye bread. And really, everyone I've talked to who has eaten here, says this sandwich is heaven on a plate. Sheer greasy, fried, fatty decadence.

But the two sandwiches we ordered to share between the four of us were not that at all. The pork belly had been overcooked, robbing it of its juicy fat and rendering the meat dry and blackened. And at these price points, I would hope that you would get more than 2 or 3 slices of pork on each half of your sandwich. Dawn, of Appetite Portland, and the author of one of the aforementioned rave reviews, vouched that the sandwiches we received were nothing like the one she'd eaten the week before. And mind you, the sandwiches only come with a pickle, if you'd like to try some of their house cut fries, you'll have to cough up an extra $5 for a little tin.

While I really love the transformation of the space from the old, kinda cold and dark White Heart to a cozy, warm, well-lit space that meshes kitchen, bar, and restaurant well, I don't see myself frequenting the place until I hear that my next $10 won't yield me disappointing results again.