Review: Nora's in Dogtown
Situated in a small storefront that used to house a coffee shop, Nora’s is a quaint place in Dogtown. Cozy booths and banquettes line the walls and small, intimate tables dot the middle of the room. Slate blue walls and mahogany-stained furniture give the place a trendy, sophisticated feel, while the huge chalkboard menu, historic photos of St. Louis icons and corner TV remind you that you’re still at a local sandwich shop.
And sandwiches there are, nearly 20 hot and cold varieties. A group of standards – salami, turkey, chicken salad, etc. – populate the list of cold offerings. Notably absent is a really good, hearty bread; most sandwiches are built on your choice of a white or wheat hoagie that’s dry and a bit flat. The hot selections, however, feature a few standouts.
The Quban, whose skewed spelling is a mystery, is made with applewood-smoked pork loin, smoked in-house. The sweetness in the meat, as well as its tenderness, is remarkable, adding a unique and flavorful complement to the sandwich’s succulent slices of ham. Melted Swiss, yellow mustard and pickles top things off; it’s a good, well-rounded sandwich.
A classic Reuben is served on lightly toasted marble rye (a welcome departure from the thin hoagie that appears on most other offerings), its toppings of sauerkraut, Swiss and Thousand Island dressing proportionate to the stack of juicy, wonderfully peppery pastrami at its core. It’s savory and satisfying, perfect for a winter’s day.
The menu also offers some original and creative options, notably the For Pete’s Sake, named for The Brady Bunch’s Peter Brady’s famous “pork chops and applesauce, that’s swell” line. It’s piled high with juicy pieces of that flavorful smoked pork loin and accented by some small, chewy bacon pieces that add a bit of salt, caramelized onions to add a bit of sweetness, and Brie for a subtle richness. It’s all topped with applesauce, which really allows the pork’s smokiness to pop, making this sandwich extremely balanced.
The vegetarian options, however, aren’t as successful. The Portabella Philly features marinated, smoked mushrooms that are cut into thick strips and paired with thinly sliced caramelized onions, diced roasted red peppers, Provolone and herbed cream cheese. It’s surprisingly one-dimensional; despite the bold portabellas, this sandwich lacks zing, mostly due to the stifling creaminess of the cream cheese and Provolone.
The Veggie Melt sounds delicious but fails to deliver that healthy feel that veggie sandwiches can often elicit. All the vegetables – succulent artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, sliced portabellas, sweet caramelized onions and ripe avocado – are of good quality, but when combined with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, chipotle mayo, and melted Provolone and Cheddar, the sandwich overwhelms with too many components, each harder and harder to detect with every bite.
The bread-centric offerings are rounded out by a handful of salads, the most interesting being The Hemp Garden Salad, with fresh mixed spring greens and tons of great veggies tossed with Greg’s Hemp Oil Vinaigrette, oregano and house-made croutons. It’s very large, filling, flavorful and, not surprisingly, earthy. Nora’s also offers a different soup daily, chosen from a rotation of favorites. A thick broccoli-pepper Jack was flavorful and not too spicy, and a chicken noodle, though light on salt, offered thick, doughy noodles, tender pieces of chicken and diced veggies.
With a full list of daily specials, ranging from combo meals to drink discounts, good service and an affordable, approachable menu, Nora’s fits right in with the neighborhood.
FILLING UP FOR $20 OR LESS
Dine-In-Ability: Settle in at a cozy table and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
Feast or Famine: Both vegetarians and omnivores have plenty to choose from.
Try It, You’ll Like It: For Pete’s Sake and the Hemp Garden Salad
Where: Nora’s, 1136 Tamm Ave., St. Louis, 314.645.2706
When: Tue. to Sat. – 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun. – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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