Restaurants / Openings

Hiking Guide Turned Chef Opens One of Houston’s Most Charming New Restaurants

No Rules, Big Plates and Plenty of Cakes

BY Laurann Claridge // 08.23.17
photography Jack Thompson

Who knew a trip on the Oregon trails would change the course of Martin Stayer’s career. While working as a hiking guide in the Pacific Northwest, Stayer spent time in the wilderness with a couple of chefs whose passion for cooking was contagious.

They encouraged him to pursue his hunger for cooking — and pursue it he did, from Houston to Chicago, then back home to Houston again. Along the way, he found himself behind the range at some notable Michelin-starred restaurants. Recently he opened Nobie’s, a 57-seat Houston restaurant named for his grand-mama, in a quaint 1930s-era bungalow on Colquitt.

It’s a no-rules, let’s-change-the-menu-as-often-as-our-whims-demand-it kind of place, where gracious-sized plates are meant to be shared.

Choices range from chicken liver mousse layered in an old-fashioned glass and topped with a cherry to smaller plates such as Thai crispy rice salad with shrimp, cashews, and herbs — hands down the best salad I’ve enjoyed in months.

Other menu items are as kitschy as Nobie’s vintage sound system (which includes a cassette tape player) and include house Chex mix and beer-battered sweet-potato tots with harissa chile powder and a cool goat cheese dip. They pair well with cocktails such as Solid as Arrack, made from a fermented rice and sugar-cane spirit and more delicious than the name imparts.

Larger plates include Nonno’s Pasta, with wide tagliatelle noodles made in house by sous chef Aaron Moody and smoky grilled octopus over tender white beans dotted with chorizo. For dessert, opt for the birthday cake of the day, complete with lit candle. 2048 Colquitt St., 346.319.5919, nobieshtx.com.

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