Accomplished cocktails and generally well-executed small plates that breathe life into old favorites are highlights at this fun new Downtown restaurant
Question: When is an eclair not really an eclair?
Answer: When it’s a delicious little Philly steak sandwich.
Question No.2: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Answer No.2: The egg, but who really cares? At Nosh on High, you don’t have to choose between the two.
Offering an inviting space, appealing adult beverages, plus a playful menu that showcases small plates that riff on popular dishes, Nosh on High is bringing smiles to Downtown diners. Bonus: Eating in this fun new place won’t cost an arm and a leg — only one item breaks the $20 barrier.
Consistent with its aesthetic, Nosh on High overlays contemporary style onto its classic Lazarus Building location. Photographs and bricks honoring the landmark department store’s past are offset by a curved bar, patterned-fabric booths, understated wallpaper and paint, bare-bulb (though not overly bright) lighting and ladder-like wooden features — one resembles an overhead trellis and has plants dangling from it. Overseeing the modest-sized eatery is a personable staff led by several higher-up veterans of Milestone 229.
If asked for recommendations, they’ll likely steer you toward the irresistible What Came First appetizer ($7): deviled eggs with addictive fried-chicken crisps planted like flags into their uncommonly smooth, mustard-kissed fillings. Each of the four ova halves is brightened and gently spiced by a dot of hot sauce.
An order of Ribeye ($15) brings a quartet of mini, eclair-style pastry shells filled with tender shaved steak. The marginally dry, scaled-down “buns” also contain tiny dices of red pepper and onion, plus a tangy, creamy mornay cheese sauce. Dollops of a romesco-esque sauce decorate the entertaining plate.
The standout, house-made Tots ($12) are among the best in town. A terrifically executed vegetarian spin on poutine, cauliflower is incorporated into these inhalable potato cylinders, which are then lashed with rich, brown vegetable gravy that’ll please beef-lovers.
The pleasures of macaroni-and-cheese and jalapeno poppers successfully merge into a single snack in the Popper Mac ($8). It’s essentially a well-constructed traditional mac-and-cheese that, instead of just having toasted breadcrumbs on top for a crisp counterpoint, is crowned with dredged-and-fried jalapeno disks.
While much smaller and lighter, the sushi-influenced Tuna ($15) is another winner. Planks of ruby red, firm and good tasting fish with an exterior sear are flattered by compatible partners of sticky rice, smoked salt, pickled ginger, sesame seeds, wasabi and a soy sauce glaze.
Even the seemingly simple Casa house salad ($7) with an emulsified dijon dressing and goat cheese daubs offers distinguishing elements: dried cherries and deeply toasted oats that provide a fine, nutty crunch.
Nosh puts its stamp on cocktails ($11), too. The excellent Nosh Fashion is an Old Fashioned that arrives in a bespoke glass flask embossed with “Nosh On High” and “Maker’s 46” (its esteemed bourbon). Prefer a spicy margarita? Pick the refreshing Prodado. If a tiki-style drink is calling, the Pinga Colada, made with cachaca, pineapple, bitters, Coco Lopez and Campari, is the creamy, not-too-sweet, pina colada-style answer.
I experienced some inconsistencies with two dishes that are composed like entrees. Skillfully grilled Salmon ($17) and enjoyable cumin-scented couscous punctuated with cauliflower were teamed with a flavorful but somewhat dry pea puree. An order of Pork ($17) featured a good-quality, bone-in, smokily grilled chop that had been cooked too quickly, making it rather chewy. The plate also contained under-grilled and tough peach wedges along with a lively-yet-hearty grain salad, plus a “bluegrass demi” that recalls zesty barbecue sauce. Despite their respective issues, both dishes offered pleasant flavors.
I had only one issue with Nosh’s pie-style take on a S’more ($6): The need to continue sharing it with a suddenly greedy dining partner.