Let’s Review: Nobie’s

Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook recently published her top 100 Houston restaurants list. Nobie’s is missing.  It shouldn’t be.  

This Montrose restaurant is, well, housed in a house or more like a bungalow with a front and back dining area straddling the bar.  The ambiance is cozy and casual.  With the BeeGees and Prince playing in the background, the vibe is fun; and the beat may cause you to seat dance.  It’s perfect for a date night or a group of friends.

The playfully worded affordable menu constantly changes in rhythm with the seasons, the bounty from local farms and the catch from the Gulf.  It consists of small plates and daily changing entrees.  The wine list is an interesting compilation of affordable glasses and bottles of unique varietals curated by Sara Stayer, the restaurant’s sommelier and general manager (see interview below).  Her husband and executive chef, Martin Stayer, comes to Houston via several Michelin starred restaurants in Chicago.

Nobies
Nobie’s Chef Martin Stayer, courtesy of Nobie’s

Recommended shareable small plates

  •  Baked French feta $14 – za’atar, dukkah, preserved lemon, olives, herbs, toast (my personal favorite)
  •  Texas tartare $16 – smoked jalapeno, parsley, capers, deviled egg, toast
  •  Dilly bread $9 – pull-apart milk bread, garlic, everything butter
  •  Blistered shishitos $9 – bonito, nori, spicy mayo
  •  Don’t squash my vibe $13 – summer squash, herbed vinaigrette, squash pesto

Recommended shareable large plates:

  •  Nonno’s pasta $19 – tagliatelle, Bolognese, parmesan
  •  Cauliflower power $12 – curried yogurt, raisin, pickled onion, dukkah
  •  Duroc n’roll meatballs $21 – Duroc pork, chicken jus, fig, manchego
  •  Winner winner chicken dinner $57 (family size shareable) – apple & parsley salad, truffle jus

Happy hour is daily from 5-7pm with $5 glasses of wine including a lovely Gruner Veltliner, beer and shot combos, ½ price oysters, ½ off whiskey on Wednesdays and ½ off sparkling wines all day on Thursdays.  Expert mixologist, Sarah Troxell, offers specialty cocktails with crazy names such as the brancasaurus (gin, Fernet Branca, bubbles) and the Spanish Fly (reposado tequila, manzanilla sherry, apricot).

Nobie's
Mixologist Sarah Troxell, courtesy of Nobie’s

Insider tips:  

· No reservations are taken, so get there early (by 6:30 pm) or late (after 8:30 pm) if you don’t wish to wait. 


Get to Know:  Nobie’s Sommelier and General Manager Sara Stayer

Nobie's
Sara Stayer – Sommelier and GM, courtesy of Nobie’s

Are you fascinated by somms with their cork-sniffing, glass-swirling and ability to pair food and wine?  Well, I am. Here we will ask questions of our favorite wine experts to learn a little more about them and maybe pick up some useful tips for ordering your next bottle of wine.

LGG:  What initially drew your interest in becoming a sommelier, and where did you do your training?

Sara:  I never really imagined that I would be a sommelier, working behind mostly dive bars, it wasn’t until I worked at Naha under Micheal Nahabedian that the itch really got me. The way he saw it; there was no end to the things you could learn in food and wine. I trained with friends and mentors and tested at the Court of Master Sommeliers

LGG:  What differences, if any, do you see between what varietals women versus men are drawn to?

Sara:  I think the old standards of pairings (i.e. white meat with white wine, red meat with red) are no longer the rule. Just as, I think that the old standards, of women being attracted to light-bodied fruity wines and men liking only powerful reds are no longer valid. People are surprising, and if you truly listen to them you’ll be able to find a great wine for everyone at the table. 

LGG:  What’s an out of the box pairing you are fond of right now?

Sara:  I love carbonic* wines! Think Beaujolais Nouveau but completely reimagined with all-new varietals grown on every corner of the earth. We recently had a carbonic pinot gris from St. Reginalds Parish in the Willamette, OR that I paired with so many things, but my favorite pairing was with our triple seared steak served with chili coconut cabbage and Thai herb salad. The skin contact from the wine gave it enough grip to stand up to the meat and the savory character in the wine was amplified beautifully by the Thai herb salad. Another of my favorites is the Sucette Grenache from Australia paired with our Winner Winner chicken dinner. The wine is made with very little intervention by a winemaker named Richard Betts, the vines are very old (most over 100) due to Australia’s resistance to phylloxera, it is juicy and fresh but incredibly layered and lasting on the palate. Our chicken is prepared like Peking Duck and served with black truffle chicken jus gravy. The high acid wine cuts right through the rich, fatty chicken and the black truffle lingers happily with the bright fruit and slight earth from the wine. 

LGG:  One wine-related tool every wine-drinking home should have?

Sara:  A temperature-controlled fridge or storage area!!! Houston is HOT and red wines especially shouldn’t be served in Houston room temp.  I also really like Coravin‘s**. They allow you to drink small amounts of wine from a bottle while preserving the remainder of the bottle for weeks. The gas that makes the Coravin function is expensive, but if you want just one glass from an expensive or special bottle it’s well worth it. 

LGG:  What wines are you excited about at the moment?

Sara:  I am excited by small producers, young producers, winemakers that are making wines with no harmful farming practices and winemakers who allow the terroir and vintage to shine. Some producers I wholeheartedly endorse:

  •  Lieu Dit from California
  •  Ampeleia from Tuscany
  •  Vignai da Duline from Venezia Giulia
  •  Maxime Magnon from the Languedoc
  •  Bruliam from the Russian River Valley

Bruliam, by the way, is about as cool as a winery could be. The winemaker, Kerith, is so kind and supportive and a mother of three! She works the vineyards, treats her employees fairly, donates ALL profits to charity and still finds time to write handwritten cards to encourage other young women in the food and beverage industry.

LGG:  I know your spouse is Nobie’s chef.  Assuming you prepare meals at home too for your husband and sons, what do you make that they love and is quick and easy to prepare?

Sara:  I like to cook a little out of the ordinary. I often serve a cold soba noodle salad, with some thinly sliced snap peas, green onion, toasted sesame seeds and edamame tossed a soy and sesame oil dressing. The kids will always eat that. I usually serve it with a quick pickled cucumber that I learned from my mom and grilled pork or shrimp or chicken.  This will sound weird but my kids love pickled veggies. I am incredibly lucky that my mom is a wonderful gardener and “pickler” and often sends big boxes of pickled green beans, asparagus, peppers and tomatoes. I can throw those on a plate with some grilled sausages and the kids are in bliss. I am happy to share recipes if you’d like!

LGG had to look these ones up:

*Carbonic wines are made by fermenting intact grapes in a carbon dioxide-rich environment instead of pressed grapes in an oxygen-rich environment.  

**The Coravin system accesses the wine with a thin, hollow needle through the cork and then pressurizes the bottle with an inert gas.


Hours:

Sunday: 4pm- 10pm  

Monday – Wednesday: 5pm-11pm

Thursday – Saturday: 5pm-midnight

Address:

2048 Colquitt Street

Phone:

346-319-5919

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