[Lenox, MA] Nudel

We liked the look of Nudel from the website. Small place, chef owned, with a short menu of daily changing seasonal food. Yeah, we were always going to book a table here. And the experience was even better than expected. Service is absolutely on the ball. They know who is having what without having to ask. And, in a well run place such as this, there’s no need for the regular “is everything OK” checkback – they know customers have a tongue in their mouths should there be an issue. And, they give you a carafe of water so there’s none of that faffing about trying to get refills. Put it all together and it’s a place that would get regular visits if we were local.

As mentioned, they are keen on using local produce and one starter was based on lettuce from Woven Roots Farm literally just down the road at Tyringham. The leaves were dressed with champagne vinegar, which was on the very limit of falling into being too vinegary. Chopped walnuts and pickled asparagus was added to make for a simple and very fresh tasting starter.

The other plate was a generous serving of three white fish balls, breadcrumbed and deep fried. In themselves, the perfectly crisp balls were muted in flavour. But it was the well considered accompaniments that really lifted it – an earthy sweetness from thin peelings of celeriac, a savouriness from a spring garlic puree, astringency from pickled lettuce and the freshness of parsley. I started eating it thinking it was a bit “meh”, but it really grew on me.

Rhode Island monkfish also came with well considered, almost classic, accompaniments – white beans, capers and an interesting citrus hit from orange. Very Mediterranean! The contribution to the “five a day” came with a topping of spinach – barely warmed through so the leaves retained their shape and colour. A really good plate of food.

There was a more butch plate across the table – a big bowl of orecchiette, dressed with a sauce of spicy sausage, fennel, more of the spring garlic, kale, white wine and parmesan. A skilful blend of ingredients and a generous portion that really couldn’t be finished. And every effort was made to finish such a successful dish.

This would prove to be one of our best dinners during our three week trip to America.