Nosh, opened recently in Maplewood, is a delightful little spot that serves casual fare with an emphasis on fresh, organic, free-range, local and other laudable ingredients.
Owned and run by a mother-daughter team, the cozy little place, about 10 tables, has the kind of menu people love to nibble on or make a light meal out of. There are creative salads (grapes with ricotta salata, anyone?), sandwiches (like lamb burgers and grilled chicken gouda), kebabs and some very nice starters, called ‘noshes’ here.
We started with three of those. The house-made hummus platter ($9) was a tantalizing array of the mashed chickpea spread, grilled zucchini, kalamata olives, radishes, slivered fennel, dilled pickles, black beans, red onion, red peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and more—and the only way it was a ‘nosh’ is if you were feeding it to eight people. The enormous serving was appetizing and tasty, and came with very good toasted and peppery lavash for scooping up all those goodies.
Grilled little neck clams ($10) were very nicely done. They were served in the shell, nine of them, stuffed with house-made gremolata (herbs and grated lemon rind) and feta cheese, then toasted. They had a fresh, sweet flavor, with the gremolata adding a mild and creamy touch. Also, they sat on top of a deliciously prepared piece of thick sourdough bread that had been liberally oiled and grilled and was a treat all its own. There were toasted pistachios sprinkled all over (too many of them), and they didn’t really work with the delicate clams.
Lobster Lollie ($12) was a tasty buttered and skewered rock lobster tail sitting on top of a bed of couscous. The lobster was good, and the couscous included crumbled feta, fresh blueberries, grilled squash and a few grilled asparagus spears. Sometimes unconventional combinations work, sometimes they don’t. This one fell short, partly because it mixed too many competing flavors.
For our bigger servings, we ordered shrimp kebab ($12) and Spanakopita Lamb Burger ($10). The shrimp had been soaked in a zesty tangerine marinade, giving them a citrusy burst of flavor and a little crispness during grilling. The couscous was the same as in our appetizer.
The lamb burger came on a noticeably good roll, soft-crusted but definitely artisan quality, and smeared with what the menu called ‘spanakopita.’ I can only surmise that it was a paste of spinach and feta (minus the phyllo of spanakopita). Either way, it was mild and added a nice touch to the lamb, which also was mild for that meat, and not the least bit gamey. The accompanying Billy Goat chips were delicious—don’t pass them up.
Desserts, too, are all house-made, so we tried the gooey butter cake, which was delicious—not too rich and not too gooey (raw). It had buttery flavor and a very nice cake-y texture. On top was a dollop of hand-fluffed whipped cream laced with lemon—a nice touch.
Nosh is the kind of place I love to discover. It’s got a friendly, homey, casual vibe but is still ‘nice’ with its contemporary track lighting, appealing bar, tablecloths, deep-colored walls and artwork. Especially appealing is its mission, as stated on the menu, to stick with clean, ethically produced foods as much as possible. I found some of the combinations a little too fussy (watermelon with basil and feta?), but that’s a small blip on this menu of very nice flavors and wonderfully fresh ingredients.
MAIN EVENT FROM NOSH
This is one of Nosh’s most popular brunch dishes.
3 eggs (we recommend free-range organic)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 4-ounce rock lobster tail, grilled
2 asparagus spears, grilled
3 tablespoons chopped sweet white onion
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
1/4 lemon juice and zest
salt and pepper to taste
For the pan:
1 pat butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs and cream together with a whisk until well blended. Cut grilled lobster tail and asparagus into bite-size pieces, combine all of the ingredients except lemon zest into the eggs and mix. Preheat skillet, add butter and oil. When they are hot, pour the egg mixture into the skillet and move the eggs around with a rubber spatula as they cook. When they are light and fluffy, slide them onto a plate and add lemon zest on top.