We visited with chef Jon Stevens of Nosh Euro Bistro this past Sunday after enjoying a few of the brunch menu items. It had been a long weekend and chef Steven’s new menu fit the bill perfectly.
Although I had met Stevens in passing a few times previously, this was the first opportunity to find out more about the chef.
Stevens is originally from the San Francisco area, one of the great food cities in the United States and was mostly self-taught. The chef starting cooking at the age of 19 with his uncle who was also in the business. It was this uncle that gave Stevens the advice to pass on formal training as the city was bursting with great culinary experiences and the best way to learn was to do.
The young chef sat at the stoop of great culinary masters such as Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco’s Jardiniere. He also worked at Mecca and French regional Flytrap before landing at the Ritz Carlton where he worked up to a sous position just years later.
The chef soon found himself in Dallas as sous for the wildly understated but strong on talent, Chris Ward at the Mercury where he worked for a few years before hopping the fast moving Kent Rathbun train cheffing at Abacus and opening Jaspers in 2003. It was then Stevens finally opened as chef at Aurora for Avner Samuels working there for 2 years.
Stevens found himself missing California and moved back to work at the beautifully frenetic Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley just North of San Francisco where he stayed for 4 years honing his craft. But as chance would have it, his new bride was pregnant and homesick for her family in Dallas and the Stevens made their way back to Dallas where he opened at Neighborhood Services.
“I learned a lot about running a restaurant from Nick [Badovinus], he definitely has his pulse on the Dallas restaurant scene,” said Stevens.
It wasn’t too long after opening the Royal Lane location of neighborhood Services that Avner Samuels was looking at his latest incarnation just weeks after Aurora closed and he called on Stevens once again to help run the restaurant, develop the menu and be a percentage partner in Nosh Euro Bistro that stands today serving fresh and local bistro fare from purveyors that are tasked to bring only the freshest ingredients to a menu that can change dramatically almost daily.
The Nosh concept offers a fresh menu but at very affordable pricing, especially compared to its predecessor, Aurora.
Currently Stevens is flying through cases of fresh soft shell crabs that were sold out Sunday morning when I visited, where I had a difficult time making a decision. There was so many great looking dishes flying past our table such as the Lyonnaise (a soft poached egg, brioche, frisée, smoked bacon & béarnaise) and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Biscuits (smoked bacon gravy & baby arugula salad) but finally decided on the Beef Tenderloin Benedict (2 soft poached eggs, melted onions, bacon & béarnaise). Other dishes beckoned such as the Duck Confit, which is always a favorite of mine.
Before slicing into the poached eggs and ever-so-tender layer of caramelized onion (and the freshest tasting béarnaise ever to pass my lips) we indulged in a few first courses of Tempura Fried Brussels Sprouts that was made up of the tender leaves with a delicate belly coated with a rice batter and accompanied by a sinful aioli.
We also enjoyed the Roasted Red & Yellow Beets (baby arugula, goat cheese, pecans & raspberry vinaigrette) that is a must for any visit to Nosh. I have yet to darken the doors of the restaurant without ordering this amazingly fresh salad.
There is always a selection of the local Brazos Valley cheese on hand, and the mozzarella is simply the creamiest version you will find in this area. Stevens has several preparations for the cheese and shouldn’t be missed.
What might be new for the busy restaurant? I spoke with chef-owner Avner Samuel the following day and he assured me they were plotting additional Nosh locations in Plano and in Fort Worth as we spoke. He also discussed another concept that would be similar but even less expensive so anyone wishing to try his cuisine could, and certainly should.
Samuel, the Mansion on Turtle Creek alumni chef and original member of the Gang of Five that brought Southwest Cuisine to a national fever back in the 80’s still has some neat tricks up his sleeve and we are anxious to see them unfold. Until then we have Nosh and executive chef Jon Stevens to entertain our palate with his self-taught and inspiring cuisine.