Nobie’s is home to one of the most eclectic menus in Houston. Nestled in a house on a residential street, the restaurant serves up a constantly changing menu that draws upon the executive chef’s fine-dining roots in a more approachable and affordable way.
The menu is split into cute sections like “awe shucks” for oysters, “spread ‘em, dip ‘em, etc” and “pop ‘em” for appetizers and “small-ish plates” for light entrees.
We chose to order two rounds of appetizers and light entrees, staying away from the heavier (and more expensive) dishes. One thing to note is that Nobie’s offers a happy hour Tuesday through Saturday, but only for drinks.
The first round comprised of fries, frito shishitos, “it’s not you, it’s brie,” Thai crispy rice salad and arancini. The fries were seasoned well and were appropriately crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. However, I would have preferred them with ketchup instead of tartar sauce. The fries also paled in comparison to the creativity of some of the other dishes. For example, the frito shishitos were a fun play on roasted shishito peppers. While the flavors of the lime crema, queso fresco and cilantro certainly blended well, the frito topping was the twist that turned it from upscale to approachable.
The dish “it’s not you, it’s brie” was a small cheese board with toasted bread, a wedge of kunik and roasted grapes. For those of you who don’t know what kunik is (like me before this meal), it is a triple-creme cheese that combines goat’s milk and cow’s milk. Spread on toast, this cheese is like a better butter. The roasted grapes had a hint of balsamic vinegar that made for a good combination with the cheese. The Thai crispy rice salad had the strongest flavors out of this round of dishes with its bunches of herbs, chili and lime. The shrimp and peanuts gave it a nice bite, but the crispy rice was hard to chew, which was disappointing as I expected it to be the star because of the dish’s title.
Finally, the arancini came dusted with herbs and lemon zest, served over tomato jam. Arancini are basically fried risotto balls, but the best part of these was was the taleggio stuffed inside. Taleggio is a mild Italian cheese made from cow’s milk; in this dish, it formed a gooey core that created a perfect bite of rice, cheese and tomato sauce.
While five dishes were enough for three people, my group decided to order two more small plates. The first was a beet and avocado salad, a refreshing dish comprised of beet slices, avocado cream, pickled blueberries, mint leaves and spiced pepitas. It was an interesting mixture of both textures and ingredients, although whole slices of avocado would have been better than avocado cream.
Our final dish was the beer-battered sweet tots, which ended up being our favorite. Instead of normal tater tots and ketchup, it’s fried sweet potato wedges served with smooth goat cheese and harissa. Harissa is a North African blend of chili peppers, garlic, olive oil and spices like cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. This plate is a great summary of what Nobie’s does best: combining disparate ingredients in a unique way that you can’t believe you hadn’t previously tried.
However, the title wasn’t for nothing — this restaurant serves hipster dishes at yuppie prices, enticing both populations. Our bill came out to about $30 per person after tax and tip, which isn’t outrageous given that we ordered seven plates. If you’re looking for a low-key place to celebrate a special occasion, like graduation, that isn’t too far from campus, Nobie’s is a great option.