When I went to – and reviewed – Nosh last year, it was on a Saturday night. Little did I know, the Sunday morning following my visit would mark the start of a new menu for Nosh – one that included some familiar items, but one that also had some significant changes. I don’t believe in re-reviewing restaurants unless there’s something different to write about; in this case, a new menu was different enough to give Nosh the full Portlandeater treatment once again.
After finding a nearby parking space, we walked into the restaurant – again on a Saturday night – and past the cold air barrier to wait to be seated. Within a minute or so, we were visited by the hostess who offered us a very cramped table or seats at the bar. We chose the bar and got the two seats at close end. Those were about the only two seats left, but they suited us just fine. The bartender quickly brought us menus. My first impression was that the menu physically looked very nicer than the last time I was there. I was excited to see the changes to the food offerings.
At first glance, the menu revealed the four main categories of food – burgers, fries, sandwiches, and noshing/apps. They also had drinks and dessert. There was also a specials menu with some food and, more importantly, the draught beer list. I first focused on the specials menu since I was ready for a a brew. Nosh has one of the best local beer selections around and I was determined to try something new. I quickly decided on the Bissell Brothers Substance while my wife stuck to a white wine. When the bartender came back, we put in those orders and focused on selecting food.
Other than the beer I chose, the specials menu didn’t offer anything I was exceptionally interested in. The main menu, however, I found to be particularly enticing. I brought my laser beams over to the apps and noticed Spicy Jerk Chicken Nachos – crispy flour tortillas, jerk chicken, nosh cheese whiz, sour cream, pickled frezno peppers, and scallions – sour cream on the side for the missus. My wife told me she was up for sharing them and I was ready for some nachos, man. We also planned to share the Sea Salt and Vinegar Fries with smoked tomato BBQ sauce for dipping.
I still had to choose a main course and I knew it would be a burger. I’d had a couple different burgers at Nosh and they were always amazing – undoubtedly some of the best, if not THE best, in town. I wanted to try something different though and two options stuck out. The first was the The Slab Burger with Nosh patty, SLAB pizza as the buns, sharp Provolone cheese, cherry pepper sauce, and basil pesto. The other promising vittle was the Mac N’ Stack – two crispy mac n cheese patties as the buns, NOSH patty, smoked bacon, American cheese, and smoked tomato BBQ sauce. After much internal strife and a recommendation from the bartender, I went with the mac n stack. We put in our orders with my wife taking the Toasted Caprese – Maine backyard beauty tomatoes, mozzarella, basil pesto, Fresno peppers greens, salt & pepper, olive oil on a ciabatta roll.
Our drinks came and they were quite good though my wife’s wine came in a cup as opposed to a wine glass. Apparently it didn’t change the taste though as she still enjoyed it. A few gulps in, we received the jerk chicken nachos. They showed up on a long, curved, wooden board/plate. There were a bunch of tortillas laid out and topped with lots chicken, cheese, and scallions. I dug in, making sure to get tons of toppings on my triangle tortilla temptress. Holy non-guacamole! The nachos were astounding. The chips were very crisp, the cheese was plentiful and delicious, the jerk chicken was second only to what I’ve had in Jamaica, and the other fixins rounded out a nearly perfect plate. The only very minor critique I had was that all the individual parts came together to make a dish that was probably a tad too salty. But it was a really small flaw. Overall, the nachos were truly superb.
We finished our nachos and within three flaps of a moth’s wings, the rest of our food was presented to us. My burger came on what was pretty much an empty plate except for the burger itself. The deep fried mac and cheese patties and American cheese completely hid all other parts of the cow sandwich. The fries were served upright in a cone of sorts. My wife’s caprese looked appetizing. I grabbed the makeshift “bun” and got at the burg, rocketing it into my mac n’ stack hole. TIHSGNIKCUFYLOH! It was so ridiculously good, I couldn’t even swear straight. The burger epitomized smokey, cheesy, manly decadence. This was the type of burger that could kill you if you ate it every day, but on this day, it simply took my childhood love for macaroni and cheese and hamburgers to the next level.
It took a couple bites of my burger before the deep fried mac patties began – inevitably – to fall apart. I donned a fork and knife combo without hesitation and continued to devour the heavenly health horror. What makes Nosh’s burgers some of the best are all the details. The burgers are naturally raised and made with beef chuck, brisket, pork shoulder, bacon, garlic, and rosemary. That’s a great start, but when you add some extra gooey, cheesy mac, you’ve got a winner of epic proportions. Throw in bacon, ‘Murica cheese, and smoked tomato BBQ and you’ve got the stuff of legend.
My burger made like D. B. Cooper and disappeared thanks to my healthy appetite for unhealthy food. My wife performed the same magic with her sandwich and we gobbled up the fries too. None of it was bad. In fact, it was so good, I was left with a feeling of utter joy which I shared with the people sitting next to me who happened to be the road crew from the show at the State Theater that night. It was their first time in Maine and I let them know they chose the right place for dinner.
Nosh provided me with a meal that was utterly incredible. I can finally say that I tried Nosh’s new menu and I was more than impressed. My only disappointment was that I didn’t have room for dessert. I had my heart set on The Holy Donut Sweet Grilled Cheese – one-halved caramel sea salt chocolate donut, smoked bacon peanut butter, grand marnier cream cheese, and peanuts – which sounds like one of the best things I’ve ever heard of. I suppose that not eating it may have saved my life after the rest of my meal, but it was a chance I was willing to take had my stomach allowed for it.
The entire burger bonanza came to about 55 bucks before tip. It was well worth it for what I felt was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten along with the other delicious parts of the night. Nosh has really outdone themselves. Their decadent comfort food really strikes a cord with me and apparently with lots of other Portlanders since they always seem to be so busy. I’ll be back and it won’t be long before I get there. They just have so much that looks like it has my name written on it.
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