Using their noodles
Noodle & Pie unites comfort food favorites. By Sarah Baird
There's something simple but reassuring about comfort foods, even if they weren't what your grandmothers whipped up during your childhood. Whether your go-to is slurping chicken noodle soup or gobbling shepherd's pie, comfort foods seem more like a bite of nostalgia than a meal.
The ability of soul-warming foods to transport diners is the crux of what makes Noodle & Pie — an Uptown spot with a menu anchored by big bowls of ramen and slices of top-notch pie — flow seamlessly between two seemingly incompatible types of food.
Noodle & Pie is a pop-up success story. After a popular run as a once-a-week venture at Coulis, the Dante's Kitchen spinoff found a permanent home on Magazine Street in 2013 and began slinging its namesake items, as well as an ever-expanding menu of sakes and carefully crafted pan-Asian small plates.
The space is bright and welcoming, with light wood and a color scheme reminiscent of Miami Vice. A horseshoe-shaped bar at the back of the restaurant divides the dining area from the kitchen, with dozens of jewel-toned bulbs dangling above the heads of imbibers as they sip Japanese-inspired cocktails.
The drinks menu focuses heavily on sake and sake-based mixed drinks, which are crafted with a delicate hand to ensure the nuanced flavors of the rice liquor are on full display. High-quality sake tilts on the expensive side, and prices range from $11 to $15. If you're looking to splurge, the Living Jewel Junmai ($12.25) has a fruity, slightly tart flavor that serves as a good starting point for those developing their appreciation of sake. The best bet, though, is to get a sake-based cocktail, most of which hover around $8. The Cloudy Skies is a frothy, aromatic combination of sake, elderflower liqueur and coconut-sour that functions as a foil for the menu's spicier notes and a palate cleanser between courses.
If you're new to ramen and uneasy about protocol, never fear: Noodle & Pie has a chalkboard full of tips and tricks for enjoying your bowl of noodles. (Hint: don't stick the entire giant spoon in your mouth.) A handful of hearty ramen options are available — including a shio crab and pork bowl and a vegetarian bowl — but the standout is the eight-hour brisket bowl. A perfectly savory, umami broth and tender, slow-cooked brisket are punched up by the addition of a garlic and ginger "fireball" which marries nicely with the chewy, house-made noodles and a soft poached egg.
Noodles might be the namesake, but the restaurant's small plates are diverse and plentiful. The okonomiyaki fries are a Japanese play on loaded french fries, with wiggling bonito flakes paired with nori and garlic mayo, making the dish a fun first course. Korean sesame fried chicken bears a striking (but elevated) resemblance to the Chinese takeout favorite orange chicken. The black bean and chili glaze delivers the right amount of back-of-the-throat heat for the crunchy chicken and goes nicely with deep-fried Brussels sprouts, which sit on an addictively crunchy bed of buttered panko breadcrumbs. (I unceremoniously and shamelessly ate the remaining bread crumbs with a spoon after finishing the Brussels sprouts.)
Portions at Noodle and Pie are generous; a small order of an appetizer and a regular ramen bowl would be enough to sate even the most voracious diner.
One unfortunate miss on the menu is the char-grilled octopus, which is served as a kebab and, despite a sweet-herbal tomato sauce base, lacks the punch of other dishes.
A small selection of pies (four daily offerings and one special) rounds out the menu and each is outstanding. The mocha pecan pie is worth ordering even with a belly full of ramen; the pie's deep and complex cocoa flavor supports the caramel notes naturally present in pecans. Noodle & Pie would benefit from putting these sugary confections on more prominent display, and should promote the stellar end-of-meal offerings as much as its diverse menu of savory items.