Restaurateur Steve Becker is perhaps best known for his catering at The Coronado, which he took over in 2003. But he also runs the adjacent little cafe, Nadoz (a word play on the last part of ‘Coronado’), which has some of the freshest cafe food in town. Several years ago, when The Boulevard was being developed across from the Galleria, he located a second Nadoz cafe there, and just recently has launched ‘Nadoz @Nite,’ four casserole-style entrees offered as heartier alternatives to the mostly sandwich and crepes menu.
The restaurant is small, about eight tables and four or five booths, done in warm woods. This is a counter-service place, so you go to the register, order from the wall menu, and wait for your name to be called. Flatware and napkins are self-serve. The lighting is low, which does a lot for the ambience, and one wall of windows looks out onto the attractive ‘boulevard,’ a planned ‘Main Street.’ There is also a gas fireplace that adds another homey touch.
Crepes and sandwiches are made to order; the new entrees—Seafood Newburg, Chicken au Gratin, Penne Puttanesca and French Country Pot Pie—are reportedly made daily at The Coronado and trucked in from there. We sampled some crepes, both savory and sweet, and a couple of the new casseroles.
The eight savory crepes offered are served in buckwheat wraps and made on an open grill in one corner of the cafe, which results in some strong grill smells wafting into the small space. Our grilled Alaskan salmon crepe ($9.50), however, was excellent, among my favorite dishes of the evening. The salmon pieces were plentiful and fresh-tasting, and very well-complemented by a thin layer of ‘herb cream cheese.’ Also in there, and in judicious amounts, were chopped red onion, chopped tomato, artichokes and capers.
The Hermosa ($7), with smoked ham, cheddar and honey mustard sauce, and the Jasmine ($8.50)—filled with grilled white chicken, baby spinach, pepper jack, cilantro pesto and curry cream sauce—were both quite good. My only complaint is that the sauces were too heavy. The Hermosa was filled with very good ham, which had been attractively grilled first. Similarly, the Jasmine presented a nice combination of foods, and was very tasty, even with its abundance of curry sauce. I recommend ordering them ‘light on the sauce.’ Additionally, the crepe dough is very good, light and eggy, if a little too crisped at the edges.
Our seafood casserole ($13) had a light sherry taste and a creamy sauce. Shrimp and some other bits were in there, and a good complement of noodles. The chicken au gratin ($10) had plenty of white-meat chicken, along with peas, carrots and cubed potatoes. It was fresh-tasting, but could have used more flavor, say a defining herb. It came topped with buttered bread crumbs. On balance, I would say our crepes were more interesting than our casseroles. The crepes had a mix of raw and cooked foods, colorful ingredients and distinctive sauces/flavors that made them pop. The casseroles were somewhat homogenized in texture (stewy) and nondescript.
Our dessert crepe, the Crepe de Froment ($4), was excellent. A delicate white-flour crepe was spread with melted butter and marmalade and sprinkled with sugar. And the double-chocolate éclair was similarly delicious, a choux pastry filled with chocolate mousse and spread with dark chocolate on top. Our pastries—a linzer torte and a madeleine, on the other hand, simply were not same-day fresh, the way good pastries should be. They were probably in the case too long.
Nadoz is good at what it does: offer wholesome and made-to-order foods at very approachable prices. As is often the case in a spot this casual, be prepared for little privacy at the tables (they’re all near the register, bathroom or door), except maybe for the booths, which are set off to one side and separated from the serving area by a waist-high divider. Another big plus is the spot’s all-day breakfast menu. When the mood hits, it’s hard to beat challah French toast or a bacon, egg and cheese crepe for dinner.
CREPE DE FROMENT FROM NADOZ CAFÉ
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups milk
½ stick butter and more for serving
1 tsp vanilla
Strawberry, apricot or raspberry marmalade
Combine all ingredients except marmalade and powdered sugar, mixing well. Grill on a flat surface until golden brown. Brush crepes with melted butter and spread on a generous amount of marmalade, then fold in half twice and garnish with powdered sugar. Voila!