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Caught In A Nosh That Reeks of Awesomeness

Nosh On Naples Bay

1490 5th Ave South Suite 101, Naples

Service is like the direction or score of a movie. Unless it's spectacular (every need met prior to you asking, seamless, invisible) or horrific (server vomits in your soup, French kisses grandma) you should pretty much never notice it. You sit down, your waiter introduces themselves, talks about the specials, takes your drink order, then food order after you review menu, food comes, dessert order, check brought, you pay, done. This is not to say it's an easy, simple job. It is not. Like teachers, for whom I have an insane amount of respect, you literally cannot have a bad day. No matter what is on your mind, you have to be polite, respectful and attuned to your guests needs, especially since your take-home pay is based on that.

This is Chad from Nosh. Be a Chad. The world needs more Chads.

I think the most important thing a server can know is how to handle recommendation requests from diners, especially if they have not eaten there before. For a new restaurant, especially if it's a more bold concept, I particularly like if they ask if you've dined there before and go over some of the best parts of the menu, or the featured dishes. If they don't do this, I usually have one simple question. "What's the best thing on the menu?" The wrong answer to this question starts with "The most popular thing is...". The right answer asks follow up questions about what I like, flavors, etc and then recommends based on that. Popularity doesn't always mean quality. "I'm Too Sexy" was a massive hit, but no one's gonna mistake it for Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

We experienced the right kind of service last week at Nosh on Naples Bay. As soon as we checked in The Canadian Destroyer, his lovely lady Belladonna and I were immediately escorted by the hostess to a peaceful yet not too private table in the back corner of the restaurant and menus and a wine list were handed to us.

The decor at Nosh hasn't changed too much from it's previous occupants. It's classic fine dining. Lot open air and white table clothes; a relaxed yet refined atmosphere. We ordered our cocktails, including my standard fine dining starter Hendrick's martini up with a twist. Clearly Nosh was a place that didn't mind a three hour meal. This is not to say that any of the service was slow. Far from it, but there was no pressure to rush you to order. Everything happened in a calm and natural pace, making for a meal where the food and conversation were blended like the most delicious daiquiri (ok..terrible analogy. I hate sweet drinks..margarita? no..MILKSHAKE!, that's the ticket! [Thank you Jon Lovitz circa late 80s]).

Now on to the food...

The menu is broken up into Noshes, both meat and seafood (cue my maternal grandmother Frances Pearlman wandering around her kitchen "I need a Nosh" she would say) and Large Plates. Obviously the noshes are meant to be shared. The menu, especially the noshes, were a bit all over the place, but in a good way. Globalization is an especially good thing when it comes to food, so we had all sorts of combinations merged together. You rarely see deviled eggs or Chinese pork buns on a menu together, but here they were side by side.

We started with a seafood strudel type thing. There's probably a fancier name for this, but it contained seafood and looked like a voila, seafood strudel we have.

This was pretty darn tasty, although a little colder to the tongue than Belladonna would have liked. One of the hardest things about seafood with any sort of cream sauce is can get a bit too viscous and kinda stay on your tongue far too long after eating, but this tastiness avoided that. It had a nice balance of the tang of the sauce with the natural seafood sweetness..but let's be honest here, you could wrap a 1984 Chevy Impala in a flaky crust and I'd probably enjoy it.

Next up was the Miso Caramel Pork Belly Steam Buns. Think is this like a sweet and crunchy pork belly in a spongy Chinese version of a tortilla. Normally this is one of my favorite dishes, but I feel like the pork belly could have had a BIT more of a crisp on it. Not bad, I just happened to really like crunchy to go with my spongy.

I would note that the presentation on everything was spectacular. It wasn't just a smear of sauce. We had dots (true), asterisks (not true), semi-colons (definitely not true), it was almost like Strunck and White were manning the plating (that's a joke that like four people in the world would get and I doubt anyone who would is reading this, so that was a bit of comedy for me, selfish, I know).

As a nice extra touch, the chef sent out his pastrami cured salmon. While I don't like salmon cooked, it can be fantastic when it's smoked or raw.

The pastrami salmon was eaten so quickly that all my pictures of it were blurry.

This was somewhere in the middle. Not as smoked as lox but obviously not as raw as sushi, it had an amazing cured tang to it. It was something I wouldn't have ordered, but I understand why chef sent it out on the house. It was clearly the best of the noshes we had.

Next up, as a choice of Belladonna were the deviled eggs. Deviled eggs are great unless they sweet. If you make your deviled eggs with anything sweet, you should never set food inside a kitchen ever again. No one wants to expect the eggy savoriness of a deviled egg in their mouth and then suddenly be met with the wrong taste bud. No no no no no. ..NO! These were savory. These were good.

Our final appetizer was the good old burrata salad with pesto. Can't go wrong here. Quality cheese, quality basic product. Good stuff.

I particularly liked that the balsamic used on this wasn't too sweet. Really let the vinegar blend with the acidity of the tomato quite nicely.

Finally my main came out. I ordered the double ham special which was a traditional pork chop alongside an Iberico ham. This was quite lovely, but I made the mistake of thinking that the Iberico would be more flavorful than it was. It was a terrific piece of pork, but felt more like a loin medallion than a cured piece of meat. On the subject of pork, I will note that I tried The Canadian Destroyer's tomahawk pork chop and that was pretty spectacular (new finishing move?)

The single worst photo in the history of food bloggery.

We did order one side which was a Mexican street corn that added a nice sweetness to balance the thick savoriness of our meat dishes. Unlike most street corn, this was almost like a creamed corn with Mexican flavors and accoutrements rather than more of a right off the cob vibe. Definitely order this.

It was time to order dessert and our server recommended the coconut creme cheesecake thingy that was absolutely fantastic. For those of you who like coconut but don't like all the flaky chips (I happen to love finding one of those flakes in my teeth hours later, but as you all know, I'm pretty weird), this is the dish for you. Really sweet, but in a good tropical kind of way. And to go back to service, The Canadian Destroyer was actually recognized by the staff as being one of the most famous, if not the most famous kazooists in all of the world, so to recognize that, they put a golden kazoo on top of this decadent delight.

Kazoo Are You?

Some places would have made a huge stink out of his presence, but putting the kazoo on top of the dish said "Hey, we know who you are, we love you, we want to honor you, but we don't want Bob and Alice to run screaming over to you and say 'You're our favorite kazooist, can we have you sign my husband's kazoo that he keeps in the car?'"

Overall, Nosh is a lovely addition to the local fine dining scene. It's fine dining but with the experience but without the nose in the air bells and whistles that sometimes accompany.

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