Nosh &Swig is another of those places I wouldn’t have found at all if it hadn’t been for a tip from a reader.
The thing was, she couldn’t quite characterize it, which surprised me somewhat. After having been in, I understand completely.
From a visual standpoint, Nosh &Swig has all the hallmarks of a hipster spot founded on a shoestring budget with more creativity than money — not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s tucked into a strip center on East Flamingo Road, a location that, if memory serves, had been stripped of all vestiges of the last tenant. The new look is neutral walls with whimsical accents like “Nosh” with its definition on one wall and “Swig” with its definition on the opposite wall, plus a Flushing Avenue street sign that indicates the location of the restrooms, beaded metal chains to delineate the entrance area and a row of retro-looking outdoor faucets from which the menus hang when not in use. And candles, and metal accents, and some wood.
There’s some whimsy in the food as well, which starts with a little bucket of nicely fresh (and slightly sweet) popcorn and which I could only characterize as fusiony/tapas, apparently owing much to the whim of the kitchen.
Not that there’s anything at all wrong with that.
An example is the Fromage Fondue ($15). “Snooze,” you might say, and I’d be inclined to agree except for the underline that promises a “hodgepodge of rustic breads, crudite,” and which certainly sparked my curiosity. And indeed, we were brought, along with our bubbling dish of warm, mild, slightly garlic-accented cheese, a server with three conelike appendages, one of which did hold a hodgepodgelike assortment of breads, one of which held a pretzel roll and one of which held vegetables and some fruits. Strawberries dipped in garlic-infused cheese? Delightful, as it turns out, although I would’ve sworn otherwise a few weeks ago.
Other dishes on the menu — in sections marked by pictures of a pig, cow, chicken, fish, generic vegetable and cheese — demonstrate an equal amount of … well, there’s that word again, whimsy. Pretzel brats ($8) were sliders of chicken-apple sausage with a touch of sauerkraut and what the menu describes as “cheese gravy,” which, yeah, really did seem to sum things up. In the final analysis the little tweaks to this classic didn’t make a huge difference, but they sure were good.
Cocka-Waffle-Do ($11) was a take on classic chicken and waffles, dressed up with a fantastic blueberry-maple reduction that wasn’t overwhelmed by either and that complimented the flavors of both the chicken thigh and the buttery Belgian waffle quite nicely.
Slightly less successful were the Sticky Bun Tacos ($8), and not only because this is something that’s being done an awful lot, fried pork belly in a slightly sweet ginger-soy reduction wrapped in a shell of the kind of dough used to make bao. One of them was quite good but the other two suffered from a shortage of the pickled cabbage that provided such a nice balance.
And in that same category was the Lotsa Mozza ($8), a layering of cheese, polenta cake, eggplant and “melted tomato” in which only the eggplant and polenta stood out. It was quite good, but the other components fell by the wayside.
We ended with a Chinese Churro ($6). Why Chinese? I have no idea; it seemed to me virtually identical to a classic Mexican churro, except maybe twice as wide, and served in a pair. Here again, the sauces were a strength, with a serviceable chocolate bracketed by condensed milk and a bright berry compote.
Service throughout was restrained but effective. We expected the food to come out in the seemingly random fashion of tapas restaurants but that wasn’t really the case, with the fromage brought as a sort of starter, followed by everything else.
So yes, Nosh &Swig is indeed hard to characterize. And far from perfect.
But easy to love.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Email Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com, or call 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.