By Robin Garr
Here is the eternal question about dining out: Do we want to go someplace excellent but pricey, or shall we hit an eatery with great affordable fare?
Thanks to the wit and wisdom of Chef Anoosh Shariat, you can jump in the car and hold that decision until you swing into your parking place.
How’s that? Simple enough: Shariat runs two restaurants, right across the Brownsboro Center parking lot from each other. If your mood turned to fine dining, make your reservations and glide into his upscale Anoosh Bistro. If you want something tasty that will suit your wallet, stroll over to casual Noosh Nosh, where you can’t go wrong with a wide-ranging selection of affordable goodies for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
I’ll catch up with Anoosh Bistro soon, when my bank account recovers from the pandemic. But I’m ready for Noosh Nosh now. We dropped in a little before noon on a Saturday, hoping to beat the rush, and found a 15 minute wait and a happy, noisy crowd of supplicants in the small waiting area. By the time we were seated, the line was out the door. This place is popular, especially on weekends; it’s open daily except Mondays from 10 a.m. through the evening.
Don’t fret about the wait. Put in your name and they’ll take your number, freeing you to check out nearby Brownsboro Hardware or the Party Mart wine-and-liquor shop until you get your call. Online ordering is also available for takeout or curbside pickup.
Noosh Nosh’s shopping-center space is large and bright, with colorful decor including walls covered with overlapping pizza peels in gold and bronze and pale and dark green. Dominating the open kitchen in the main dining room rises the red-tiled dome of an impressive wood-fired stone oven that turns out first-rate pizzas, flatbreads, and more.
Specifically, two flatbreads and eight 10-inch pizzas are priced from $11 (for a cheese pizza) to $14 (for a BBQ chicken pie or an only-in-Louisville hot brown pizza). Mushroom or braised brisket flatbreads are $12.
But that’s only the beginning of an extensive and varied menu that covers world cuisines and includes ample vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. A dozen small plates for sharing range in price from $7 (for garlic fries) to $14 (for spicy tomato mussels). A breakfast menu (available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.) includes nearly 20 items: Lots of egg options, french toast and oatmeal, even breakfast pizzas, topping out at $12 for several dishes including smoked salmon omelet, french toast foster, and a couple of pizzas.
A half-dozen soups and salads are $6 to $14, amd a dozen sandwiches and hearty plates range in price from $10 (for a grilled cheese sandwich) to $19 (for a steak burger or salmon al forno.) A short, affordable wine list, a mix of commercial and craft beers, and a variety of cocktails offer bar options.
We came hungry and ordered starters and mains and didn’t have much to complain about. A half-size caesar salad ($6; it’s $9 for a full plate) was well-made and delicious. Big, crisp squares of fresh iceberg lettuce, standing in for the traditional romaine, were generously dressed with a tangy, creamy caesar dressing. Croutons, likely fashioned from bread from the stone oven, were crisp and delicious.
Creamy mushroom soup ($8) would have been wonderful on a brisk winter day. It was mighty good under air conditioning on a sizzling summer day. A swoosh of truffle oil floating on top of the pale tan soup initially brought an almost overpowering truffle scent to the table, but it came into perspective when I stirred it in to the rich creamy soup. Snipped parsley floating on top supported the succulent flavor combination of truffle, mushroom, creme fraiche, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Beef tenderloin skewers ($10) from the specials menu (pictured at the top of the page) looked great but left us less than entirely satisfied. Three skewers each bore three two-bite bits of tenderloin that were tasty enough but cooked almost well-done. That’s a sad thing to do to this cut that loses its juicy tenderness quickly when its pink interior turns dark brown. A drizzle of green, garlicky Argentine-style chimichurri and dabs of creamy and tangy tzatzki sauce added delightful cross-cultural flavor pops.
Noosh Nosh’s take on the classic red, white, and green margherita pizza ($12) departs a bit from tradition: It’s basically a white pie with melted fresh mozzarella spread from edge to edge, drizzled with green olive oil and with a few thin tomato slices mixed in and a small amount of snipped basil scattered on top. It was different, but still cheesy and appealing, with crust edges cooked dark and crisp from the wood-fired oven.
With strong, fresh iced tea, our lunch for two came to $38.16, plus a 20 percent tip.
Noise Level: As the smaller front room filled, the sound rose to an average of 74dB, about as loud as the environment inside a moving car. But conversation was only difficult when noise occasionally rose to peaks at 82dB, the level of loud singing.
Accessibility: The restaurant and restrooms appear to be accessible to wheelchair users.