Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Nosh Euro Bistro celebrates bistro atmosphere
Majority of sales come from the chalkboard.
The televisions at Nosh Euro Bistro (which has locations in Oak Lawn and Plano) are more than a mere bit. Intended to be more than a passing amusement for a first-timer marveling at the novelty of being able to see a live-camera feed into the kitchen, the televisions’ purpose is beyond that of providing ambient, visual distraction.
The fact is, they’re proud of their food at Nosh, and those TVs are mounted proudly to provide even greater access it.
“People have a love affair with watching how their food is being prepped, by being informed about what’s going on in the kitchen with their food and with how it’s being prepared – that’s what the TVs are all about,” says Jon. “That’s what the open kitchens are about – it really can be an exciting thing to watch.”
And once prepared, the food can be a pretty exciting thing to eat, too.
Nosh, which was founded in Oak Lawn by Dallas dining giant Avner Samuel and Stevens, is a glance at the classic Euro Bistro with a hat tip to a Dallas audience looking for comfortable – yet creative – cuisine and a place to enjoy themselves while eating it.
“Nosh is a European bistro-influenced menu, but we also do a lot of American fare as well. It’s very chef driven,” says Stevens, the Corporate Chef at Nosh, which also has a new location in Plano. “A majority of our sales come from the chalkboard, where we’ll do anywhere from five to eight features a day – it’s constantly changing. It’s really a great venue for the chefs to express their creations, and at the same time, cooking along the lines of the genre of what we do.”
It’s an idea that provides a wide avenue of creativity for the culinary minds at Nosh to flex their muscles, but the idea is to also present to its customers the option of reliable or adventurous; while the static menu changes seasonally, their chalkboard can change from day to day at each restaurant individually depending on sources and what they can find.
“Our chalkboards are proprietary to each chef in each location. We try and support the local farmers, but at the same time we’re realistists – we know that we can’t get things that we want to use locally in Texas sometimes. So we support the local farmers when we can and then we draw from some other areas, mainly California and then some East Coast stuff as far as produce goes,” Stevens says. “A lot of our seafood is coming via Steve Connelly out of Austin – it’s a lot of Eastern Seaboard stuff – and then some things we’ll get from another company locally here for Gulf stuff, like whole snapper. And now that we’re out with the Spring menu, we’re lightening things up and bringing a lot of new vegetables out – the Spring vegetables – and taking more of the braised items away from the Winter menu. It’s lighter cooking and we’re focusing a little more on seafood.”
As important as Stevens says it is for Nosh celebrate its creativity in a bistro-style atmosphere, he also goes to great lengths to ensure that any pretense are left at the door. The restaurant works so well, he insists, because the food can be served in an atmosphere that lacks any sort of snobbery, and at a price their customers can appreciate as a legitimate value.
“This is a bistro, and we made it a nice bistro, but people can feel comfortable coming in in shorts and flip flops. There’s 14 seats around the kitchen, and then there’s a big communal table – like a chef’s table – right in front of the kitchen. So you get a lot of action, and on busy nights it’s great; there’s a lot of energy in the kitchen, and a lot of yelling going on. There’s a great energy in here. It’s a loud restaurant, but it’s a good loud,” he says.
“Overall, I want our customers to feel like, ‘We should bring our friends here on Monday.’ You know what I mean? That’s the first thing I want them to think when they’re leaving here, is ‘Wow, that was great, we should bring Bonnie and Ted over here.’ Instead of, ‘Oh, this will be great for my birthday.’ We don’t want to be that special occasion restaurant – we want to be the neighborhood place. I want people to feel the value of Nosh and feel like they can come here three or four times a week with their friends or family.”
To that effect, Nosh offers half-priced wines (up to $70) on Mondays, and has a happy hour from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s an effort to not only draw in a crowd looking to unwind, but paired with a more adventurous blackboard menu, someone looking to advance their culinary horizons can get in and out without taking a massive hit to the wallet.
“For the chalkboard menu, we’ll bring in things that are a little out there – a little bit more advanced than the regular menu stuff, but still cooking along the same scope. Maybe sea urchin or sardines or something fun like that. We can’t write that stuff on the menu because it’s a little too much adventure for what we’re trying to achieve – we leave that stuff to play with, and typically all that fun stuff will sell,” Stevens says. “And then our wine list is a great, price-conscious list that’s designed to go well with whatever we serve. We don’t have a whole lot of Italian wines or French wines – there are people who don’t know a lot about French and Italian wines, and they’ll shy away from ordering because they’re unfamiliar with them.”
And Nosh shies away from unfamiliarity; rather, it strives to maintain a grounded, quality menu that doesn’t rely on shock and awe to satisfy their customers. Familiarity – not repetition – is the goal; a place where comfort and value go as well together as grilled scallops and white wine.
“We don’t mask a whole lot of things,” Stevens says. “We just try to let great product be great product.”
Not that they would be able to mask anything, anyhow. Their kitchens are always on TV.
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