Restaurant Review: Noble Sandwich Co.
Noble Sandwich Co. ascends the throne
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Feb. 13, 2015
Mon.-Thu., 10am-8pm; Fri., 10am-9pm; Sat.-Sun., 8am-8pm
Noble Sandwich Co.4805 Burnet Rd., 512/666-5124
Mon.-Thu., 10am-8pm; Fri., 10am-9pm
I'm in serious trouble. My fondness for lemon treats has been well documented in these pages over the years. Now there is an eatery within an easy driving distance from my home that sells 4-ounce jars of rich, delectably tangy lemon curd for a mere $3.50. What makes this situation especially troubling is that the rest of the food served at the Noble Sandwich Co. is every bit as good as the potentially addictive lemon curd, and the dessert spread complements everything – bread, biscuits, waffles, cookies, spoons. The refrain of "Ya Got Trouble" from The Music Man echos in my head just thinking about it. Looks like I'll have no choice but to frequent this establishment regularly.
Chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez opened the Midtown outlet of their Noble Sandwich Co. in April of 2014. They chose to rehabilitate a space in a run-down old strip center and, in the process, discovered a long-forgotten neighborhood grocery store. They incorporated elements of the old store into their design, revealing the distressed ceiling, polishing up the wooden plank floors, and restoring a colorful old Dr Pepper mural on the face of the storefront. Their wholesome, handcrafted food is right at home in the old store, and judging by the recent weekend crowd, folks in the neighborhood feel right at home there, too.
While both Noble outlets originally focused on breakfast and lunch, now they only serve breakfast Friday through Sunday, and lunch and dinner daily. Bates says he's convinced they gave breakfast a good shot, and he's perfectly happy to serve 400 people a day on weekends in the newer store when breakfast is offered until noon. A recent serving of cheesy, creamy grits topped with richly flavored shreds of pork from a ham hock and a pert fried egg ($7) was the ultimate rib-sticking, cold weather repast. A huge plate of biscuits and gravy paired with house sausage ($5.50) was equally robust, but was in serious need of salt. A big biscuit ($1.50) slathered with lemon curd was heavenly.
A group of friends joined me in the line at Noble on a recent chilly Saturday. We could see the crew in the kitchen crafting sandwiches fast and furiously and the line moved quickly. With four sandwiches, a cup of soup, two sides, and two desserts, we accomplished a reasonable menu sampling and shared bites around the table. What impressed me most about the humble sandwich meal was the skill and thought that went into the elevation of each dish – choices of excellent fresh breads filled with ample portions of quality meats and cheeses are accentuated by flavorful condiments and enhanced by carefully chosen greens. This food is noble and elegant in its simplicity: a seared beef tongue ($9) with smoked green onion, red-pepper relish, and a tangy aioli; a Knuckle Sandwich ($8) of thinly sliced beef and stout Cheddar accented with a low-smoldering horseradish sauce and the sweetness of caramelized onions; a tender, smoky brisket ($10) gets a bright, acidic crunch from kimchi and a lip-tingling kiss of sambal mayo. The tangle of cabbages and carrots that make up the slaw hide incendiary slivers of jalapeño, and the new potato salad balances it out with the cool balm of mayo and sour cream. The chocolate lovers at our table were more than happy with the little pot of five-spice chocolate pudding ($3.50) while I contented myself with lemon curd.
Dinner is a relatively new feature at Noble, so it's not yet drawing big crowds. Another group of friends joined me to check out the dinner offerings, and while we each enjoyed our personal choices, the voluptuous serving of mac and Gouda ($6) topped with brisket ($4 more) that we ordered to share was the winner on the table that evening. Rich, moist, and creamy under a dusting of buttery bread crumbs, it was the most extraordinary mac and cheese any of us could remember. It outshone the impressive high-rise Swine Burger ($9.50), at least six inches of porky goodness on a Challah roll, and the seared Creole catfish fillet ($12.50) under a pale pink mantle of crawfish étouffée. It was almost as good as the lemon curd. Serious, serious trouble.