Monday, August 12, 2013

Debby's Visit Part 1: Nolen Kitchen - Myer's Park

Last Wednesday, Debby, my mom's best friend and my godmother, came down from Richmond, VA to visit my family and help my mom out with a few redecorating projects. A typical visit between our two families involves a lot of my favorite things -loud talking and enthusiastic gesticulation mixed in with the copious consumption of wine and snacks. As expected, we got in a lot of good eating in one extended weekend. 

On Thursday, Debby and my mom picked me up at work for a lunch date at Nolen Kitchen. After making our way through somewhat of a parking nightmare (I'm convinced that all humans lose the ability to drive upon reaching Selwyn Ave.), we finally made it to the restaurant and snagged a table in the middle of an interesting blend of groups of businessmen and "ladies who lunch" (holy gender stereotypes!). First, I really, really like the setup of this restaurant. The inside seems modern but still warm, due in large part to the giant windows and rich, wooden ceilings. During the daytime, the bar looks huge, but it can get packed (especially on one of the super crowded nights when a band is playing in the complex). Regardless, Nolen Kitchen still seems like a great place to grab some happy hour snacks and a cocktail or a glass of wine (or a half price bottle on Tuesdays!). The patio is also great -I could definitely see myself sitting out there with friends during the fall (read: it's hot as ish and I'd die if I sat out there in this weather), especially if we could snag a table by the awesome-looking fire pit (once again, I'm planning for Autumn... it just doesn't seem too appealing right now in mid-August).

Maybe we were a little hungry, but we all struggled when it came to deciding what to order -everything on the menu looked great. After debating our options, Debby selected the Spinach Pie (leek fondue, barrel aged feta, and baby spinach in country phyllo dough), my mom chose the California Chicken Club (applewood smoked bacon, avocado, vine ripe tomato, provolone, honey mustard on a toasted potato roll), and I went with the Chivito Sandwich (grilled hanger steak, fried egg, grilled onions & peppers, provolone, and black truffle a├»oli, toasted open face ciabatta). For our sides, Debby swapped out her vine ripe tomato salad for a side salad and my mom and I chose the mesclun greens with vinaigrette dressing.

Spinach Pie
Within a few minutes, our food was delivered and we dug in. Debby's Spinach Pie was outstanding. While all the spinach pie I have ever ordered has been served in big, greasy, square pieces, this one was rolled into a sticky bun shape and the phyllo dough was toasted to a perfect golden brown without a hint of visible grease in sight! The feta/spinach/leek combo was really good -refreshing but filling while avoiding the yucky, bitter taste spinach is prone to developing in cooked dishes. The focal point of this entree was really on the spinach, not the cheese, and even though I'm a feta-monster, I still thought it was really, really good. The side salad consisted of kale topped with beets (have beets gotten super trendy recently or is it just me?), small pita croutons, grape tomatoes, goat cheese, and pistachios. Debby isn't a goat cheese fan, but I thought the combo looked delicious. 

California Chicken Club
My mom's California Chicken Club was also good, but the chicken did seem a little bit on the dry side. In particular, I liked that the cheese was melted, rather than just slapped on the sandwich as an afterthought. I do think the wedge-shaped avocado slices, while pretty, were a little unwieldy and didn't fit into the sandwich very well, but this wasn't a huge issue for my mom since she opted to eat the sandwich open-faced with a knife and fork. I'm really picking nits here, though, because the sandwich was very tasty. The potato roll was the perfect vessel for the sandwich because it was heavy enough to contain the dense ingredients, but was still light, fluffy, and a little bit sweet, balancing out the salty chicken and bacon. My mom was surprised to discover that the honey mustard had a strong kick to it, but the spice was a flavorful addition to an already delightful sandwich. The mesclun greens side was exactly what we ordered -straight mesclun greens tossed in vinaigrette dressing. While it seemed a little lame, especially when compared to Debby's loaded side salad, I feel like I can't complain too much when I knew exactly what I was ordering. The vinaigrette dressing was also a little less than stellar, but it was facing some stiff competition from all the other delicious items we ordered. 

Chivito Sandwich
Although it's a close call between the three, I am convinced that the Chivito Sandwich was the best out of all of our meals. The beefy, salty hanger steak and egg combo is probably a little rich for a typical workday lunch, but it was a great special occasion sandwich. The meat was thick but surprisingly tender and was cooked to medium, just as I'd requested. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like it's increasingly rare (no pun intended) to actually be served meat at the temperature at which I'd ordered it, despite any "cooked to order" claims. In light of my meat-related gripes, I was particularly excited to see my sought-after warm, pink center. However, I was a little disappointed when I discovered that my egg yolk had already popped and drained onto my greens. As a result, I didn't get the yolky, steak-y bite I envisioned when I ordered, but it was close enough and the Chivito is definitely on my re-order list. The ciabatta itself was even carnivore-pleasing, as the steak's juices had seeped into the nooks and crannies of the bread and flavored the entire piece with warm, meaty deliciousness.

All in all, our party had little to no complaints about Nolen Kitchen. The menu was an interesting change of pace from my standard workday lunch and they delivered on each of our meals. There are still a lot of delicious-looking items left on the menu (their brunch offerings look particularly drool-inducing), so I can't wait to return and check them out! Nolen Kitchen gets a very strong 9/10.

Nolen Kitchen on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment