Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Noble's Grille

I first went to Noble’s Grille in high school when a good friend was the hostess, and I enjoyed many a Caesar Salad, thanks to my babysitting money and immature palate. My most recent visit ten years later secured it as one of the best restaurants I’ve been to as a “grown-up.” The long, wooden bar and open view of the kitchen invites you in, and believe me, you’ll want to stay a while.

A 2010 Terrazas Argentinian Malbec was a great precursor to the evening. Tablemates chose Absolut Martinis and Bombay Sapphire G&Ts. It was a fun night. Sliced Italian Bread is served with high-quality Olive Oil, and Balsamic Vinegar was served alongside upon request. I like a little salt and acid with my oil. Fried Duck Wings, a nightly special, sounded better than the actual execution of the dish. What was called a Spicy Chili Aioli tasted like mayonnaise, and the duck wings were too moist inside the overly-salty breading mixture.

The Fried Oyster Salad presents eight beautiful Fried Oysters on a bed of greens with Bacon, Egg, Roasted Red Peppers and raindrop-shaped “puddles” of Balsamic Vinaigrette. The fried oysters blew the fried duck wings out of the water. The not-too-heavy crunchy coating is a perfect match to the fresh oysters, and the balsamic gives it a nice tang.

Cast Iron Scallops are perfection, and the sides that come with it round out the dish beautifully. Two plump Scallops (three if you order the larger portion, which I thought was a bit odd) lay on a bed of Wilted Spinach, Cubed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Corn Nage (sauce), Toasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and house-made Chorizo, which took it over the top. The smoky, salty richness of the meat highlighted the slight sweetness of the scallops. I am enamored with this dish.

Pan Seared N.C. Flounder has a fun Southwestern flair. Gold Rice, House Andouille, Blistered Red Peppers and Smoked Tomato Nage infuse the flounder with striking flavors. The fish tasted like it was encrusted with homemade salty tortilla chips, which was awesome. The 14-ounce New York Strip is Hickory Grilled, served with Sweet Potato Puree, Broccoli and topped with a killer Shallot Thyme Butter. The salty crust on the steak and herbed butter are a succulent combination. The steak was tender, a perfect medium rare.

In the battle of the steaks, the Cast Iron Filet Mignon surprisingly comes in second. Served with a Yukon Gold Puree, Wood Roasted Vegetables and Bordelaise, the steak had a wonderful crust, but was cooked a little longer and therefore wasn’t as tender.

How could I possibly have room for dessert, you wonder? I have 28 sweet tooths. Coconut Cake has a pound cake-like texture, topped with Buttercream Frosting (a bit lacking if you ask me), Chantilly Cream and Toasted Coconut. Perhaps my taste buds were numb, but it left a little something to be desired. A pinch of salt may have brought the dish together.

Vanilla Crème Brulee is rich, with a tasty, crunchy, burnt sugar topping. It came with a dollop of Chantilly Cream, but fruit would have been nice for a little acidity and texture. The Caramel Cake was my favorite of the desserts. Caramel Sauce, Homeland Creamery Butter Pecan Ice Cream and Candied Pecans are a wonderful supporting cast, but the Brown Sugar Frosting was the star of the show. I gave up ice cream for Lent, but I imagine it was a wonderful addition.

Chef Jim Noble is the owner of 4 restaurants, located throughout Charlotte and Winston-Salem. The man knows what he’s doing. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the food, though a bit more attention to detail would have made it impeccable.

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