Nudel surprises and surpasses all expectations

Kate, Ben, and I came into Nudel on a warm summer night just before the rain. Two of us were coming for the first time, and we were not sure what to expect. Ben thought it would be a noodle place based on its name, and the reality surprised and excited us both — the interior was playful and colorful, which matches its experimental and innovative menu.

Bjorn Somlo has run his highly seasonal farm-to-table restaurant in Lenox for more than 12 years. He is an awardwinning chef with experience at restaurants at New York and New Orleans, and a local native, an alum of Bard at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington. (On the way here we drove through his old hometown, Austerlitz, N.Y.) And he has made his name in the Berkshires for flavors that are always changing and unexpected.

Sweet corn tacos? Cabbage and house-made spam? I wanted to order at least three appetizers at Nudel, but I decided on a cheeseburger. My cheeseburger at NUDEL was exceptional, and the best food I ate there is the best I’ve eaten in Berkshire County.

I was unsure about the cap’n mac’s sauce served with the burger, because I thought it was going to be a barbeque sauce, and the barbeque sauce on burgers so often trends toward being overly sweet — but this was something else again. The cap’n mac’s sauce on my burger was creamy with a cast of fresh and natural green. I knew that was a good sign.

The sauce along with the smoked onions and pickles had a buttery, slightly sour and intensely savory flavor that brought the burger together perfectly.

My cheeseburger was exceptional, and the best food I ate there is the best I’ve eaten in Berkshire County.

The meat quality was high, and the meat was soft, not crumbly, but the double pattys had that melt-in-your-mouth texture I know from home in Wisconsin. The bun was delicate and soft and light. It was a fantastic burger, and quite possibly one of the very best I’ve had on the East Coast, which I usually find quite a bit weaker in its burger game than the Midwest — this one would fit in well in a strong Great Lakes line-up of burgers.

I didn’t know what to expect from the wok-charred cabbage with corn, chili crisp, and house-made spam, which is a fully-cooked spiced ham. But the texture was a satisfying bite with the cabbage and the sauce. I don’t have a close comparison for the taste of spam (the canned kind many people know, or any other), but this one brought a satisfying balance to the cabbage and sweet potato and miso puree.

It is clear that NUDEL is committed to inventive cooking and it was pleasant and lovely to dine there — what a memorable experience!

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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