Walking into Nobie’s is like walking into a hip friend’s house, complete with a well-stocked bar and a drool-worthy record collection, but instead you are walking into Houston’s newest noteworthy restaurant. Chef and owner Martin Stayer has worked at Michelin star rated restaurants in Chicago, but came back to Houston to be near family. He found the unassuming bungalow and remodeled it with the help of family and friends and then got to work in the kitchen. The menu, with its cheeky puns and clever food names, changes weekly. Although Chef Stayer admits he is a bit crazy for having an ever- changing menu, he is committed to making food that he likes and can source locally.
One of the menu favorites (I was assured would be a menu staple) is the Texas Tartare. The meat has a layer of deviled egg on top and is seasoned with smoked jalapeño, parsley and capers. The taste and texture are exquisite and the creamy deviled egg will make you remember family picnics from days past. I asked our server how the chef made the egg layer so smooth and creamy and she went back to the kitchen to ask. She came back and said that it was a “ninja secret” that could not be revealed. I guess I’ll have to live with that answer.
Frito Shishitos – no, you didn’t misread that and this might be the only time you see such a dish on a menu. Shishito peppers with lime cream, queso fresco, cilantro and of course, Fritos. Before I even tried the dish I’d already decided that I wanted Chef Stayer to be my best friend, because anyone who can think up and execute an appetizer with this combination of flavors is worth sharing a beer with. The dish didn’t disappoint – the peppers were great with a little bit of Frito crunch, lime and cheese.
Next up was the Thai Crispy Rice Salad (also a menu staple) with shrimp, peanuts, herbs chili and lime. The salad was light, refreshing and had a great flavor – definitely a good way to start your meal. One of the heartier dishes on the menu is Cevapcici; Serbian sausage, eggplant and pepperonata. When he moved back to Houston, Chef Stayer missed the Serbian sausage he would eat from a food truck in Chicago. He couldn’t find anything similar here, so he decided to make it himself. His ingenuity brought forth a mouthwatering dish that is hearty, delicious, and hopefully something that will stay on the menu.
Nobie’s has an impressive list of wine and beer, but don’t overlook the Daily Libations. Bar Manager, Sarah Troxel, creates two to three new drinks per week. She starts experimenting on Tuesday for the drinks to be ready for the menu on Thursday. Troxel is a trained chef and has a different insight on flavors which makes her drinks not only tasty, but unique.
I could go on about Nobie’s and talk about the flavor profile of each dish, the great outdoor patio, how the décor is minimal and cool, but I won’t. What I will say is that you should make your way there, have a seat at the bar, and get ready for a tasty experience.