Nosh (Lake City, MN)
By Bruce Schneier and Karen Cooper
A conundrum of modern eating is that, in general, the more rural the town, the lousier the restaurant. One might think that, being closer to the land, one would find plenty of fresh vegetables and local delicacies there. But rural dining hasn't progressed much since the 1950s.Things are changing, however. Farmers' markets continue to expand. People want fresh or unusual ingredients, and this foodie culture is expanding the market for chef-driven, locally sourced cuisine from city to countryside.
And that's why we drove to Lake City. The lovely lakeside Nosh Restaurant sets a fine standard in Southeast Minnesota. Expect farmers' market-fresh veggies, including organics from small farms like Many Hands, meats from local producers like Au Bon Canard and Happy Hog Hollow, and cheese from area cheesemakers like Fenceline and the Upland Cheese Company. You can even find locally foraged mushrooms on the menu.
Chef Greg Jaworski makes his own gravlax, sausages, mustard, tomato jam, pickles, and so on. The bread comes from next door, where Nosh alums have opened Rabbit Bakery. The menu offers a wide array of small plates and appetizers as well as entrees, so it's easy to try lots of different things. That's always our favorite approach.
We liked the sausage crostini -- be warned, these really are small plates -- and the marinated mushrooms. The foie gras appetizer, served with a raspberry and pomegranate sauce, was also tasty.
Our favorite entrees from our most recent visit included the roasted chicken breast from an Amish supplier, served with herbed polenta and vegetable ratatouille. We also loved the spicy seafood paella, chock-full of shrimp, squid, scallops, mussels, fish, and chorizo.
Not every dish was perfect, although when we had complaints, they were invariably due to the composition of the dish, not the individual ingredients. The pork chop, though good, was served with dry baked kidney beans, cucumber salad, and a barbeque demi-glace. The combination simply didn't work. The lamb, served with couscous and chard, was better, but the fruit sauce overpowered the rest of the plate.
The only clunker we had there was from the soups section: the vegetable soup was surprisingly tasteless. The beet and arugula salad was the complete opposite, garnished with candied pistachios, fresh goat cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette that was bursting with flavor.
Leave room for dessert, though. Nosh has an extensive menu of homemade desserts, including "medium rare chocolate cake" (a variation on molten chocolate cake) served with berry coulis, delicious vanilla crème brûlée, and sponge cake soaked in vanilla cream and topped with raspberries and toasted pistachios.
You can also stop at Nosh for, well, a nosh. The restaurant, including a comfortable outdoor patio, is upstairs, but downstairs is a well-stocked bar with its own bar menu. On it you'll find many of the small plates and appetizers from upstairs, as well as some bar-only items like fried calamari and fresh pizza. Next time we're there, we're ordering the lamb sliders, served with pickled onion, goat cheese and harissa sauce.
Some ingredients, like the seafood, come in as air freight, but overall, Nosh is a great example of local, sustainable, delicious eating, showing us all how it's done in Wabasha County.
Cuisine Type: New American with Mediterranean-influenced American
Diet Choices: People with dietary restrictions will eat well here.
Schneier.com is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc.