Monday, July 2, 2012

Nosh

7/9/12 ALERT: Nosh has closed its doors. Basically, an ugly series of events unfolded over the last 72 hours. On July 6, Willamette Burger Company employees protested in front of Nosh, claiming they hadn't received their last paychecks. WBC had closed a few days prior. It's likely that any money that should have gone to employees either went missing or was used to fund Nosh's opening. There's a rumor (likely from a former employee) that the business was renamed Nosh to avoid legal troubles. There are Statesman Journal articles regarding the protest on July 6 and Nosh's closing on July 9. Truly a sad end to a respected business.

Nosh is a restaurant located near the corner of High St. NE and Chemeketa St. NE in downtown Salem, Oregon. It's in the same place where Willamette Noodle Company once stood. Same owners, new name, new menu. Nosh opened its doors on June 19, a Tuesday. I came by with a good friend a few days later to check it out.


The inside is the same as when Willamette Noodle Company called this place home. It's basically why the owners lovingly call Nosh "WNC version 2.0." The tables are still lined with brown paper so the kids can draw. Maybe the panda will one day unleash his creative side. Trust me, that would merely be a waste of crayons and paper.


I like the simple lunch menu, broken down into four distinct sections (appetizers, soups/salads, pastas, and flatbread sandwiches). I already know if I wanted a gut-busting meal, their mac and cheese sounds like the ideal choice. And naturally, I would add bacon for a couple bucks more. The mac and cheese is a nice way to link Nosh back to the old WNC; several people I've talked to raved about that dish in the past. Considering the owners have stamped the restaurant name on this bad boy, I'm sure happy pandagasms will rock the building. Too much info yet? Just checking.

Menu
(June 2012, opening week)
We first got a lovely basket of bread, plus a small dish of olive oil and garlic. I'd add tons of cracked black pepper to that oil-garlic combo for maximum comfort on that appetizer. Amazingly, I refrained from eating a bunch of their amazingly soft bread. Panda showing willpower? That's "unpossible!"


But I wanted to stay somewhat civilized this time, and my stomach thanked me for that. My friend and I both ordered the Herb Roasted Chicken flatbread sandwich ($7). A soft pita-like flatbread contained the aforementioned chicken, Tillamook jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a house-made vinaigrette.

Herb Roasted Chicken Flatbread Sandwich
(Nosh)
Closeup cross-section!
It's a refreshing sandwich. Even the flatbread itself has great flavor. The chicken was moist, although I really couldn't detect any herbs -- or much seasoning in general. Refreshing lettuce and tomato. A well-executed vinaigrette. Yet again, I found myself adding freshly cracked black pepper to this meal. That all-important peppery bite amped up the flavor tenfold.

I fault myself for not requesting that the sandwich be toasted, despite the menu explicitly showing that was an option. That would have really made this one better, in my opinion.

I've heard amazing things about some of their other dishes, including a steak dish with chimichurri, rock fish with pesto, and a pork loin on what appears to be a bed of cooked potatoes. They even make cakes from scratch.

Friendly service and a nice place in downtown Salem to get a decent meal. It's a good intro to Nosh, but really more of an "A-OK" right now. I've seen a lot of great menu items, so I'll be back eventually. A more gluttonous side likely takes over next time. 6.5/10

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