This past Sunday, we brunched at Noord eetcafe BYOB located at 1046 Tasker Street in South Philadelphia. Noord had been on our list to try since it opened 3 years ago across from the iconic East Passyunk Fountain. Finally, the time had come. Better late than never, huh?
We had been talking to our friends Patti and Bill about getting together for brunch and knocked around a few ideas; when I suggested Noord and described the Northern European/Scandinavian-inspired cuisine, it was a unanimous decision. David is second generation Swedish-American (via his father) and grew up eating traditional Swedish dishes. Naturally, he was beyond excited since there aren’t many Scandinavian dining options in the city.
I made reservations on Open Table for 11AM on Sunday. We arrived at 10:55. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect; a crisp and sunny Autumn day. There were already people waiting. More had come within minutes. The door opened promptly at 11:00AM and we were ushered inside to a table set for four by the window with a perfect view of the Fountain.
Our spectacled server lady greeted us promptly with a smile, brought us paper menus, and ice water. She also inquired about additional drinks for our party. We ordered the Bottomless French Press Coffee which was brought out by another server, a friendly lad who instructed us when to push the plunger down (exactly 2 minutes, FYI).
Shortly after pouring mugs of coffee for each of us, a white bowl with a loaf of hearty house-baked Swedish caraway bread and butter was delivered to the table. The bread was soft and warm; we simply pulled it apart with our fingers.
Upon reflecting on the menu for a few minutes, we made our selections, and chit-chatted while noshing on the scrumptious savory bread and sipping coffee.
Featured at the top of the menu are four hash dishes–12 hour Braised Brisket Hash, Matzo Brei, Seasonal Vegetable Hash, and Pork Hash Three-Ways.
Bill chose the 12 Hour Braised Brisket Hash (which I failed to get a picture of) – red potatoes, grilled onion, cherry tomato, parsley, and two sunny side eggs.
I opted for the Seasonal Vegetable Hash (pictured below) – a saute of market vegetables, red potatoes, fresh herbs, lemon, and two sunny side eggs.
Each hash is served with a square piece of Jonnathan’s grilled bread with a generous dollop of velvety butter on top. A wonderful way to sop up the delicious juices forming a pool at the bottom of the bowl below the immaculately sauteed vegetables.
The seasonal vegetables featured in this hash were cherry tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash, mushrooms, and onions. Hard to describe the silky hash broth, but it was extraordinarily luxurious and became even better when combined with runny egg yolk. Runny egg yolk makes everything better.
Patti ordered the BLT Uitsmijters – an open-faced two-egg sandwich with brown sugar bacon, roasted tomato, vinaigrette-tossed seasonal greens, and pickled vegetable salad. She remarked it was delicious. How could you go wrong with brown sugar bacon, eh?
David ordered the Piece de resistance of the menu: Smørrebrød — house-smoked fish (Pollock, Salmon, and Scallops) & open-faced sandwich board with a little shredded Gouda on the side (per his request). He ordered this as it was the closest to a traditional Swedish breakfast item on the menu.
He could tell that the fish was hardwood cold smoked which really brings out the flavor of fresh fish. The fish, served atop rustic sourdough grilled bread, was nice and chewy, and allowed for ease of eating the fish. He praised the pickled vegetable salad that accompanied the plate, too. It pleased him considerably as it is the only dish he’s found at a brunch in the city that is remotely reminiscent of Swedish breakfast fare.
All in all, the dishes were well received by all of us; we loved how simple and rustic they were with good flavor. We liked that the dishes did not just represent Scandinavia, but also other regions of Northern Europe such as Denmark and the Netherlands. The service was pretty much flawless as well. The perfect amount of cordial attention without making us feel any pressure to turn over the table. We sat and chatted for a while after our plates were taken away.
We enjoyed this brunch immensely and high recommend checking out this cozy restaurant just off Restaurant Row on East Passyunk Avenue — one of the hottest dining meccas in the city for sure. Just be sure to make reservations to ensure seating. While the dining room was not completely full during our visit, it was close to capacity.
My only regret? Chef Joncarl Lachman was not there. I had met him briefly at FEASTIVAL but did not get a chance to introduce myself. We are now very eager to try his other restaurant Neuf in the Italian Market. Hopefully we’ll get there sooner rather than later.
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