A kitchen that makes you want to say ‘Bring me anything’
Sorry, didn’t mean to swear. I was just quoting the Nosh & Grog menu. That’s the name of the signature burger, a Wagyu beef patty that comes on a potato bun stacked with white cheddar, a Kraft American single — for the sake of nostalgia, says the chef, who loves childhood tastes — caramelized onions, bacon aioli, and mesquite ketchup ($14.50). It’s gigantic, delicious, tender, juicy, and full of good flavors and textures.
Also on the plate are shoestring fries that taste like the ones McDonald’s used to make before they stopped using beef tallow. They’re sprinkled with Spanish piment d’Espelette, which you can hardly taste, and Hidden Valley ranch dressing powder (seriously! the chef told me this), which you also cannot taste. But you still can’t stop eating them. “Fries are very important to people,” says chef Josh Bottini, who has worked at other places known for big flavors: Davio’s Chestnut Hill, Franklin Southie, and Spago in Las Vegas.
Nosh & Grog Provisions in Medfield Center is the revamped Zebra’s Bistro and Wine Bar, which owner Craig Neubecker closed after 17 years. He wanted a more informal place where people stopped by on a weeknight. The 65-seat spot includes two dozen stools around a U-shaped bar, reclaimed wood from a Braintree barn and a nearby house under renovation, and photographs of Cuba (for sale) by Medfield photographer Edmund Prescottano.
The food coming out of the kitchen makes you want to say “Bring me anything.” Sweet, plump mussels ($12) with shallot, fennel, and capers taste smoky; the chef tells me later that he cooks the mollusks in cast iron without any liquid to get that smoky flavor. They sit on a simple butter sauce. Local Stone & Skillet biscuits ($6) are sweet and fluffy, English muffins that taste part doughnut, served with honey butter and a berry jam that two of the restaurant’s dishwashers make in the summer.
Gem lettuces are a little like small romaine hearts, set horizontally on the plate, sprinkled with ranch dressing and garnished with crisp slab bacon and squares of feta ($9). A green salad ($9) has beautiful lettuces — mizuna, baby red leaf, and the like — tossed with crackers made here and Marcona almonds.
Two can split roast chicken ($18), a crisp, perfectly cooked half-bird with both golden and sweet potatoes, micro-greens, and really good pan juices. Slices of tender, rosy duck breast ($21), a dollar above Cheap Eats’ $20-a-dish rule, are juicy and delicious with squash puree, Brussels sprouts, turnip, and a faintly maple-flavored sauce. A black bean burger ($13.50) spread with ginger aioli and a touch of sriracha satisfies one delighted vegetarian.
The pasta is homemade ($14 to $20), but a fine Bolognese is ladled over noodles that are undercooked. Tacos of the day ($10) with shredded chicken thigh and breast meat are bland. And white-bean and chickpea hummus ($7) with toasted homemade tortilla triangles, pita, and naan is stone-cold one night, and just very cold another.
There’s an extensive craft beer list, and the sweet little house grog in a small copper mug ($10) is mixed with dark rum, lime, and orange. It’s served over crushed ice to dilute it; watered-down rum was an old Royal Navy drink.
The restaurant has a happy vibe, and service is cheery but wildly uneven. Water glasses can sit empty. On a night that’s not busy no one comes to take a drink order for ages. Runners bring dishes to the table as they’re ready — not all at once — and stand there waiting for someone to claim them. Is this an auction? One night when appetizers arrive after the entrees, and the runners add to the confusion, it feels like service is as bad as it gets. Another time a lovely waitress can’t do enough for us, but runners still want to know whose order they’re delivering.
Then comes dessert ($6). Maybe French toast pudding with maple glaze, not too sweet and exceptionally crunchy in its small cast-iron dish. Or fried dough, with chocolate-chip batter set onto the hot puffs, which are drizzled with chocolate sauce and confectioners’ sugar. Three come in a brown-paper box, like at the doughnut shop. Stoner food gone mainstream.
It’s all so appealing. They’ll figure everything else out.
NOSH & GROG PROVISIONS
21 North St., Medfield Center, 508-359-4100, www.noshandgrog.com. All major credit cards. Wheelchair accessible.
Prices Appetizers, burgers, sandwiches $7-$14.50. Entrees $14-$21.
Hours Sun 4:30-10 p.m., Mon-Thu 4:30-11 p.m., Fri-Sat 4:30 p.m.-midnight.
Liquor Full bar
What to order Gem salad, mussels, Stone & Skillet biscuits, Oh S#%T burger, black bean burger, roast chicken, duck breast, Bolognese, French toast bread pudding, fried dough.