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Nosh Bistro, You Sexy Thing

Nosh Bistro, in all its sultry splendor, delivers modern American fare with clever South Asian twists.

The best dish we ended up splitting that night, however, was dessert — and that's saying a lot for someone with a savory, not a sweet, tooth.

Thank the bittersweet chocolate hidden inside Nosh's spiced doughnuts, which keep the pastry from being overpoweringly saccharine. The hot dough is run through a coating of sugar, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom, which clings ably until you crunch through it to the soft chocolate center. The real test of the dish came toward the end of our meal, however: A few dribbles of chocolate escaped onto my fashionista girlfriend's expensive silk blouse, but she was too busy admiring the dessert to notice or care. When I pointed the chocolate out later, she only said: "It was worth it."
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Not everything is pitch-perfect at Nosh, of course. But even where the restaurant can stand a few course corrections, the overall effect is still dazzling. During a recent lunch outing, a male friend who ordered the burger — juicy, well-seasoned beef in a soft, eggy bun that will probably achieve some measure of fame as one of the most overlooked and underappreciated burgers in town — was surprised to see the "fries" that came with it were actually sticks of compressed vegetables.

Dishes such as braised short ribs are given fun Indian updates with curry powder and cauliflower.
Troy Fields
Dishes such as braised short ribs are given fun Indian updates with curry powder and cauliflower.

Location Info

Map

Nosh Bistro

3983 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Haven

2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Twin Peaks

4527 Lomitas St.
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Cafe Japon

3915 Kirby
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Elevation Burger

3819 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen

2712 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > British

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Pondicheri

2800 Kirby Drive, B132
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Fresh pasta with pancetta: $9
Eggs in curry: $10
Beef burger: $10
Lamb burger: $11
Yellowfin tartare: $14
Angry shrimp: $19
Chocolate spiced doughnuts: $7

READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Nosh Bistro Heats Up Upper Kirby
BLOG POST: Opulent or Overdone? Nosh Bistro's Ornate Decor Proves Divisive

"Can I get some ketchup?" he asked our waiter, who raised an eyebrow before simply saying: "We don't have ketchup."

"Well...could I get something else?" asked my friend.

"I'll see what the kitchen can do," the waiter finally relented. But his face read as if my friend had ordered A-1 sauce at Peter Luger's steakhouse in New York City, a transgression of the highest order. "He didn't have to make me feel like such a jerk just because I want something with these dry fries," muttered my friend, dejected.

When the waiter finally returned, though, it was with a brilliant tamarind sauce that normally accompanies the pakora-like vegetable fritters on the appetizer menu. "See?" said my friend as he wolfed down his veggie fries. "This is perfect!"

Across the table, our other friend was enjoying the dregs of his lamb burger, which was equally well-seasoned with a fierce amount of sunny garam masala. My naan pizza was less intriguing than the burgers had been, but I blamed myself for ordering the spinach and potato. The spinach had grown watery in the oven (as usually happens when the leaves aren't cooked and drained before being put onto pizzas), and the potatoes were sliced too thick to cut through — with a knife or my teeth — before they slid off. I gave up and ate the pizza as individual components and admired the housemade mozzarella and sturdy crust on their own merits.

Our appetizers that day had been a little off, too: a muted coconut-corn "salsa" served with four meager toast points and mussels topped with an odd tomato-avocado hash that didn't come together. The mussels were chipped, cracked and broken, and at least one had been long dead. It wasn't the quality I'd come to expect over three visits to Nosh, but I chalked it up to a misfire and instead thought fondly of the yellowfin tartare — a twist on the typical ahi tuna dishes seen on every menu that's been designed or redesigned in the last two years — that featured the same avocado-tomato hash in a much more appropriate setting. Accompanying the tartare is one of my favorite items at Nosh Bistro, even though it was just garnish: fried kale chips, earthy and salty and totally addictive.

Those kale chips are indicative of the normal amount of attention that goes into a dish at Nosh, where even the tiniest touches are thoughtfully executed; coriander mashed potatoes underneath Indian-spiced barbecue ribs were another favorite. The vegetal sweetness of the coriander had the same effect turnips do in the Scottish dish tatties and neeps, hoisting dull potatoes with a bright blast.

Even boring hard-boiled eggs are transformed at Nosh, the eggs cooked in a thick, rich, tomato-based curry sauce that is perhaps the most traditional item on the menu and is served in a perky row that encourages you to pluck them up with your fingers. That's the fun way to do it, and despite its sex appeal — or maybe in keeping with it — fun is encouraged at Nosh ­Bistro.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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