2135 SE Division
Like No Fish Go Fish, Nourishment is an example of a successful food cart trying to make the transition to sit-down dining. All around, you can see the imprint of the cart on the restaurant--from the room's design (which integrates an elegantly curved, bamboo-walled, open kitchen so you can watch your meal be prepared), to the disorganized service, to the no-nonsense presentation of the dishes.
After visiting Nourishment on three separate occasions, and leaving in a state of confusion each time, I finally thought of an analogy for their food. It's like a bunch of people from different countries trying to communicate, but none of them speaking the other's languages.
The grilled shrimp taco ($3.50) consisted of perfectly textured, buttery shrimp; a fresh, clean tasting guacamole; and carrots marinated in a sweetened vinegar dressing. But there was no harmony in the flavors or textures. It was like three completely separate languages being spoken inside my mouth. The ingredients needed an interpreter--a salsa or chutney, perhaps. A similar disharmony was true of almost everything I ate.
The grilled salmon glazed with a soy-ginger sauce was served on a bed of wilted spinach, topped with mango salsa ($14). The salmon was undeniably the most delicious I've ever tasted. Crispy from the glaze and served piping hot, even my friend who hates fish (and especially salmon) couldn't resist. But the spinach was tasteless and watery, and neither it nor the mango salsa made any sense paired with the salmon. The theme repeated itself with the daily risotto special ($8). The day I tried it, the risotto was cooked with mushrooms and red chard. As far as temperature and texture were concerned, everything was cooked to perfection. But the absorbent rice didn't carry even a hint of mushroom flavor, and the red chard seemed very lonesome and confused, unable to properly mix with the mushrooms and rice.
Thankfully, not every dish displayed this type of discord. Some, like the "blue pasta"--penne served with roasted red peppers, broccoli florets, and grilled chicken in a blue cheese sauce--was rich, delicious, and all-around perfect. The grilled vegetable lasagna ($7), on the other hand, seemed to be made from a recipe that called for 5% noodles, 5% roasted red peppers, and 90% ricotta cheese, for a grand total of 100% gross.
Nourishment is a young restaurant with a lot of promise. Clearly, someone there has a deep understanding of the cooking basics (the pasta is firm, the salmon is splendid) and a knowledge of good ingredients. Once they have taken the critical step of making all those ingredients work together (a dash of cayenne here, some béchamel there), a beautiful harmony could be achieved. But for now, their dishes still call to mind a roomful of people who don't understand each other. Something like Congress, I imagine.