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NOSH: On It's Way To Becoming a West Dover VT Destination

Vermont's Route 100 stretches through farms, ski areas, and the expanses of wild synonymous with the Green Mountain State. Colloquially referred to as the Skiers' Highway, it starts in the south at the Massachusetts line and offers access to ski resorts up to Newport, in the state's Northeast Kingdom. It's also a fantastic route for finding some of Vermont's most beloved restaurants. Newcomer NOSH, located at 276 Rte. 100 in West Dover opened in December, 2018 and is treating locals and tourists to a beautiful setting to enjoy a meal. The large menu offers choices for every palate from simple flatbreads no kid will say no to, to more "foodie" fare and everything in between. The restaurant itself is reflective of Vermont and a nice way to spend an evening with the potential to be a standout in the region.

NOSH has good signage: We were able to find it easily despite the dark and snow of the Vermont night. From the outside we were struck by the warmth of light spilling from the windows and happy to be greeted by the valet. There is self-parking but the complimentary valet is a nice touch, a nod to Fennessy's, a favorite that stood in its place for years. Another nice homage to the old favorite? Diners eat free on their birthday.

Entry is through two doors, keeping the biting cold at bay. The bar area is bright with very high tin ceilings and a small area for coat checking. Once those logistics are handled, quickly and efficiently by a friendly staff, it's off to be seated. The space has a hip, lodge feel. Imagine being in the Alps at a lodge après-ski. Though appearing small from the outside and upon entering, NOSH sprawls around corners with the eating areas in separate rooms. It's a gorgeous touch and allows diners to feel like they're in a smaller restaurant.

The dark wood, light walls and post and beam style, along with thick glass and stainless wall fixtures, provide a space that is hip without being overdone, much like the stylish clientele: a mix of couples, large friend groups of several different ages as well as one huge table of several families with children. Guests were relaxed, happy, and engaged in conversation. While there are no signs saying "no cell phones" I caught sight of only one and I'm pretty sure it was to look up an unknown ingredient (I'm a shameless eavesdropper). Something about the space encourages conversation, even between tables. People asked about each others cocktails and dishes. Children were everywhere and also engaged in conversation. Easy access to the arcade next door at The Last Chair meant we didn't hear a single whine of, "I'm boooooored." Hooray!

There’s no dress code. It is, after all, Vermont. It's also winter so we're all wearing thermals under our jeans. The staff is clad in simple uniforms of all black save for the NOSH logo and while there are no name tags, servers do introduce themselves immediately upon coming to the table. The diversity of the staff, something not always seen in Vermont, and the use of names adds to the friendliness. While many restaurants have moved to the “service in the background model”, I much prefer to engage with the person who knows way more about the menu than I do. Tiana, who took care of us, was friendly, knowledgeable, and read us very well. My husband and I are leisurely diners. We were never rushed and timing was perfect.

And this is just another way that the restaurant reflects our style here in Vermont where we like to do things at our own pace. Tables were watched and the kitchen and dining room staff were clearly communicating how to time individual tables. The cocktails and dessert date next to us was also leisurely whereas another table turned over twice while we were there. Tiana didn't mind and there were never complaints overheard from diners.

We started with a cocktail each. I wanted one from the online menu but it was not available (this is the only thing that was not in sync, which is impressive for a restaurant that is both new and has a huge menu). My "Fire on the Mountain" was, no joke, one of the best cocktails I've had in a long time. I'm not usually a cocktail person but the mix of sweet and spice was appealing. And it was perfectly blended to achieve a balance that is rare in mixology these days. It's habanero pepper infused Sapling Maple rye, cold Vermont apple cider, nutmeg, cinnamon, and garnished with a hibiscus flower and cinnamon stick. The rye is not overwhelming, and neither was the cider. It opens with the taste of maple and rounder mouthfeel but right when you think, "Oh! It's sweet and round," there's great spice from the habanero. Sounds like there's a lot, maybe even too much, going on but there's absolutely not. This is an expertly-crafted cocktail. It will be hard to convince me to try a different one.

Pork belly and French onion soup, both from the "Snacks" section of the menu, kicked off our meal. Pork belly is still trendy but lately I find myself unimpressed. Not at NOSH. The fat was complemented with a perfectly crisp outside with just the right amount of hoisin bourbon glaze. The glaze was a standout: not too sweet, not too salty and a great compliment to the sweetness of the accompanying sweet potato hash and apple fennel slaw. This dish is pure autumn without being cloying (I'm looking at you, PSL). The sweetness of the apples, especially, keep the palate fresh and with the glaze provide a great complexity. While it doesn't add to the taste, the presentation on a rectangular plate was absolutely gorgeous. It felt modern and traditional all at once.

The onion soup was another excellent choice. Deeply flavored but not an onion bomb, the thyme is a particularly nice touch. The cheese was a perfect mix of browned and melty. Personally, I like more of a crouton. Here, it's very well incorporated but the soup’s texture was still varied enough to be interesting. Additionally, the fact that it was almost completely dissolved gave the broth a delightful, starchy texture perfect for those of us getting through another winter in Vermont.
The menu has several seafood dishes and both specials the evening we dined were seafood (one fish, one shellfish). Due to a serious allergy, I had to avoid these but other diners had plenty of compliments for the fish dishes.

Our main dishes were good but not quite the quality of the pork belly and soup. That's not to say they were bad. We ordered the mushroom and chèvre flatbread. We never say no to goat cheese and the idea of a blend of mushrooms, chèvre and strawberry coulis sounded too good not to get. The sweetness of the coulis overpowered the very tame chèvre. Less would definitely have been more in this case. The mushroom was also very unbalanced, with some pieces being overwhelmed with fungi and other pieces nearly naked. Especially where there were no mushrooms, the coulis was too much. The crust should never be changed. It was perfect. And the concept of the dish is brilliant. It just needs adjusting. Toning down the coulis and arranging the mushrooms better will also increase the presentation value of the dish, which was the least attractive of the night.

We weren't floored by the Misty Knolls chicken, either. It was cooked well although dry—likely unavoidably so—near the bone. The presentation was nice but the dish, overall, was underwhelming. The carrots were perfectly cooked but the fingerling potatoes underdone. The mushroom demi sauce was reminiscent of packet gravy and did little for the dish. This is the dish the picky parent in your party will love because it is standard fare: it's exactly what it says it is. While not bad, and nicely presented, Chef Mazza could definitely do more as he proved to us as we tasted other dishes.

For dessert we ordered the tiramisu which was light and airy. It was delicious and simple, like tiramisu should be. We were surprised at the lack of booziness and espresso but these days there are many ways to interpret tiramisu and we were thankful for a lighter version than we've found at other area spots because we'd sampled quite a bit of food.

Throughout the meal Tiana checked in regularly but not too regularly, which we appreciated. The restaurant provides a bottle of tap water on the table which is what all restaurants need to start doing. I'm not a fan of having to flag someone down or having someone at my side every time I take a sip. This is the perfect way to handle water.

NOSH has created a space that is friendly; inviting; staffed with excellently trained, friendly people and has a Vermonty aesthetic without being cliche. It's what real Vermont is like: unpretentious and understated, hardworking and never pulling punches. There is quality in everything from the construction to the napkins and the menu is as versatile as our people and landscapes.
I highly recommend NOSH as a spot for a fun night out as a couple or with friends and family. Cocktails and snacks are where they shine although the wine list offers stellar choices, too. Lots of French bottles that will perfectly complement some of the meat and game dishes. Definitely get the pork belly and the soup and consider building a meal from these snacks. Give them some time on the mushroom flatbread: With big crowds, lots of buzz, and a large menu it's likely just a matter of time before the kinks are worked out.

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