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Nourish -- New Vegie Friendly place in Lexington

Friday evening we went to Nourish (Lexington Center in the old Not Your Average Joe's space). As it tuned out it was opening night, but you couldn't really tell, a couple of minor pauses in the flow but nothing out of ordinary for a friday. Service was friendly and attentive, really trying to please.
The food will be familiar to whose who know Big Fresh and Tennessee's BBQ in Framingham, since Nourish is the new joint project of the husband and wife team behind those restaurants. The fresh locally sourced very vegie friendly focus of Big Fresh is enhanced with selected BBQ elements from Tennessee's which makes a wide ranging menu that can satisfy parties with widely divergent tastes and dietary preferences. But the presentation here has a bit more style and finish to match the sit down context. They also serve a broader selection of beer and wine along with a full bar. And the prices are quite reasonable.

My two dining companions were in a carne mood one choosing the ribs and the other the 1/4 chicken. They were both very happy with the treatment and the cucumber salad and pleasantly spicy beans that accompanied. I had the Tempeh served on kale (perfectly cooked -- tender but not mush) and really liked the molasses based sauce that still wasn't too sweet and the nice beet salad.

Supper innovative neuvo high end? No. Tasty locally focused menu for diverse tastes with nice service, in a nice location at a nice price? Absolutely. Personally I go to places that meet this later description a lot more often than the former these days.

Nourish is a really nice addition to the metro west dinning experience.

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  1. Thanks for the report. I had been waiting for this place to open for some time now (thanks for pointing out that they have finally opened!). I'm a big fan of Tennessee's, so definitely looking forward to trying the place out. And I can't wait to try some of their organic beers. :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: hiddenboston

      Yeah, I love that Wolaver's organic pale ale.

      1. re: chowcat

        If they have Wolaver's, I may need to go there tonight!

    2. This is terrific news-- I have been really missing Big Fresh since I moved out this way, and was complaining about there being no healthier options like it. Is Nourish like Big Fresh-- not a super fancy/expensive place, and can you describe where it is? I don't know where the old Joe's location was.

      2 Replies
      1. re: taterjane

        Nourish is larger and a slightly fancier place but doesn't loose the comfortable, welcoming feel of Big Fresh. The dinner entree prices are in the $11-16.

        1. re: taterjane

          Right smack in the middle of Lexington Center....

        2. Nourish Restaurant, 1727 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA, 02420

          1. hey! that sounds just like what we had that night!

            1. We went to Nourish on Friday night. It was early, and they weren't very busy. The vibe is sort of odd - the decor doesn't scream Health Food, and the lighting is a little too bright. (Though maybe that was because it was still light out and they have the wall of front windows...) The menu was sort of odd also - a mix of vegetarian (falafel, tempeh, tofu) and barbeque. Which seems like a great compromise for families like ours where I'm doing a three week vegan diet and my husband and kid are not, and yet it just struck husband and me as weird. He was reluctant to order the barbeque (even though he knew about the Tennessee's pedigree and we both like Tennessee's). He wasn't able to put into words why, just that it didn't seem like a place to order meat.

              What we did have:
              Apps: Two dips - spicy carrot and hummus, served with whole-wheat pita and crudites. The carrot dip was delicous - hubby and I were fighting over it. Good curry flavor, served warm. The hummus was too thick for my taste - too much tahini, not enough garlic and olive oil. The serving of veggies to dip was paltry - a really anemic looking little pile of carrot, zucchini, summer squash, and celery sticks. They were fresh enough, just a really tiny portion, and cut so thinly that it was hard to use them to dip, especially in the super-thick hummus.

              1. Tofu/broccoli stir-fry with satay sauce over jasmine rice. This was really tasty. The presentation was not great - basically they dumped some rice into a bowl, topped it with sliced tofu and steamed broccoli, and dumped some sauce on top. Definitely looked and tasted like something I would make at home on a weeknight with little time to cook. There really were only four elements - rice, tofu, broccoli, sauce.

              2. Moroccan tagine "stir-fry" of chicken with a sweet potato/tomato sauce over couscous. My husband was pretty disappointed with this dish. They probably should not call it a tagine. It was seriously weird - chicken breast and broccoli over couscous with an odd red sauce that tasted nothing of Morocco. He picked at it a bit.

              3. Kid's mac and cheese with chicken and broccoli. My daughter ordered mac and cheese, but the kitchen sent out a plate of sliced chicken breast and steamed broccoli with a small bowl of mac and cheese on the plate. Our server seemed confused about how that happened, and checked that indeed the computer printed out just mac and cheese. We kept it - no big deal. The chicken was bland but not dry - broccoli was just steamed broccoli. The mac and cheese looked good - white cheese and elbows. My daughter liked it.

              Service was very friendly and efficient. Our waitress was very enthusiastic about the menu and told us "Everything is organic, but some things aren't organic because they're local, and we'd rather get local than organic" or something like that. It was a little confusing, but she was clearly very sincere.

              And I think that sums up our experience of Nourish - sincere but confusing, not polished but friendly, and overall just OK.

              1. Another review after they recently opened, but the problems here seem insurmountable.

                The service has absolutely no charm or pleasantry, and the food is well...it's disgusting. And spoiled.

                There were five of us on a Tuesday; the place had maybe 2 other parties there and at least 5 waitresses standing at the front desk all chatting.

                About the menu: it's this bizarre cross between ridiculous 1970's-style health food (tempeh?) and barbecue. No bread or free snacks are served before your meal. This becomes problematic when you wait over 20 minutes to order then over 45 minutes more for food in an empty restaurant.

                We ordered a falafel appetizer, a black bean burger, a peanut satay/tofu with noodles, chicken teriyaki and a kid's macaroni and cheese.

                The waitress informed us there was no mac and cheese. Seriously? At 5:00 on a Tuesday they couldn't get the basic ingredients to make macaroni and cheese? They sell Annie's down the street. So the kid got pizza.

                After waiting over 25 minutes for our food, our waitress came out to tell us that there was a problem with the printer in the kitchen, so no food had been made but was on its way. Weirdly, people who came in 20 minutes after us got their food before we did.

                Five minutes later our server brought out the falafel plate and the kids pizza, saying the other food wasn't ready but she didn't want this to sit out and get cold. (5 minutes later the peanut satay arrived; another 5 for the bean burger and the chicken teriyaki.

                About the food: the kids pizza was okay, as was the falafel plate. The black bean burger was a mushy, sour, squishy greyish patty with a drizzle of rancid chipotle mayo. The tofu in the satay was rancid and off, and the satay sauce was actually curry sauce. The rice in the teriyaki was raw.

                The side salad had a squishy cucumber and two pale green tomato slices; it was disgusting. Did the owner not know that Lexington has a Farmer's Market right down the block that has beautiful, in-season tomatoes? What the heck?

                I called the server over and told her the rice was crunchy and raw and that we didn't want another one (who had another 40 minutes to wait for raw rice?). I then asked if the peanut satay sauce was supposed to have curry in it, she said it did (but we looked at the menu; no it's not).

                A few moments later the server told us the manager was sorry for the problems in the kitchen and we would get 2 free desserts. As she walked away, one in our party said, "Did she just roll her eyes at us?" And we agreed that we had all seen Little Miss Sunshine roll her eyes at us. Seconds later, she walked by our table and literally dropped a carrot cake slice and a chocolate cake with ice cream onto the table, while we were still eating dinner.

                The manager then came over and looked somewhat annoyed. He apologized for the problems (raw rice?) and starting clearing off dishes while we were still eating. My daughter had her fork in her mouth and he just leaned over and took her plate away. It felt like we were being punished.

                On to the desserts: the ice cream with the chocolate cake had huge chunks of ice in it and in the carrot cake was a 3x3 piece of paper.

                Lexington desperately needed a reasonable place to eat, but this isn't it.

                About the portions and the prices: as noted, the food portions and prices left us scratching our heads, asking if we were being "Punk'd."

                The prices are completely nuts: $12 tiny bowl of stir fry, $8 teeny (and rancid) bean burger, etc.

                The service was surly, the management was somewhat hostile, they can't procure or cook basic food, the menu selections are just weird and unappetizing, and we all left hungry and went to CVS next door for a package of Twizzlers.

                Growing pains aside (yes, management should talk to servers about providing pleasant service; yes, the kitchen needs to learn to work the line, etc.), this place will not simply not last as long as they serve inedible and spoiled food.

                I think it's wonderful the owners say they have a commitment to serving fresh, local organic food. I question the level of this commitment when they can't find a ripe tomato to serve on a salad with a Farmer's market within walking distance.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dzaz

                  This matches my experience at Nourish. Food is fair at best, service is mediocre. Can't see going back. Wish the Not Your Average Joe's had stayed here, it was WAY better.

                2. Went back to Nourish for lunch today and had a very nice experience. It was late (around 2) but the patio was full and there were several tables occupied inside. I asked to sit near a window so scored a booth (alone) in the front window. I had the falafel salad plate. It was excellent. The portion was a good size - 6 falafel on top of hummus, with a small salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber with a drizzle of tahini dressing. Served with fresh pita. The falafel were crispy on the outside and tender and delicous inside. Not heavy at all. The hummus wasn't nearly as thick as last time and had some very nice flavor. It was served with a small bit of very hot pepper spread - delicous. Excellent lunch - really exactly what I would hope for in Lexington center. I hope this means that they're starting to hit their stride - 2 weeks open today.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                    Eatin, do you happen to remember the approximate cost? I can't seem to find an online menu, (no website yet that I can find) and am wondering how the prices compare to Big Fresh in Framingham. I do really like Big Fresh's falafel plate, and wonder if they use the same recipe.

                    Nourish is pretty convenient for us, but I think we'll give them a couple of months to work out the kinks before we try dining in. In the meantime, thanks for posting!

                    1. re: bear

                      I think it was $8.95. There is a similar falafel app for $6.95 - assuming there is a difference in portion size.

                      1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                        Thanks. That seems pretty close to the Big Fresh price. My son will be quite happy!

                  2. It is trying to lure the ultimate Yuppie. If you want a place to eat lunch, be prepared for a menu that has a slew of phony adjectives to describe mediocre dishes

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mcrankie

                      Sounds like a great strategy if you're trying to cover rent on a big space in Lexington Center - the bargain big portions and friendly service of Not Your Average Joe's didn't work, maybe faux locavore food at top tier prices with average at best service will.

                      1. re: rlh

                        As a Lexington resident, I'd rather have a local place than a chain any day. So Nourish is owned by a chain group - it doesn't feel like a chain. I can go down the street to Arlington or up the road to Burlington if I want to go to NYAJ. Lexington Center is not known for its good food - lots of energy has been spent on this board discussing why there is a dearth of excellent food in some of the more affluent northern 'burbs. But the truth is it IS hard to be profitable here - I've heard that the space downtown goes for $50 per sq ft. Prices need to be somewhat inflated in order for a restaurant (or any business) to survive here. And since most Lexington residents can afford to pay a premium to eat near their homes (and they don't seem to mind) then why not charge higher prices? It's a reasonable strategy. As long as the quality is acceptable (look at Lexx and Via Lago - exceptional food is not a requirement for success here) and the service is acceptable (again, doesn't have to be great or even very good) it will do OK.

                        I don't understand the vitriol against this new restaurant. mcrankie, Lexington is filled with ultimate Yuppies. So of course they're trying to lure them. So what? Have you been to Nourish yet? I didn't see a slew of phony adjectives on the menu.

                        1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                          Well said - and the NYAJ in Acton isn't that far away, either...

                    2. We ate at Nourish Lexington on Saturday Aug. 14th for lunch. After a week in the Boston area (during Restaurant Week), we both thought that our lunch at Nourish was the best food we ate all week. I had the Black Bean Burger, and although it fell apart, the flavor was wonderful. Our other order was Moroccan Tagine, which is very similar to the kind of food we try to prepare at home. The marinara hit the palate as something sweet, turned savory and within seconds became spicy. It was an adventure with every bite. The iced tea was nicely minty. The carrot cake was a hit and the vegan chocolate cake, while I'd describe it as "okay," (and too big) had a to-die-for chocolate sauce drizzled over it. We loved the simple and bright decor. Nourish was a great send-off from the Boston area as we returned home to DC that afternoon.

                      1. Went back to Nourish again last night with the whole family. It was the first time they'd returned with me since the first week they opened. My husband didn't really like it the first time, but I convinced him to try again.

                        They've definitely improved greatly since that first week. We had
                        Falafel app - again, very good. Everyone enjoyed.
                        Husband had the ribs. He liked them quite a bit. It's not Blue Ribbon, but he said he liked them more than the last time he was at Tennessee's. The beans and cucumber salad sides were delish.
                        I had the black bean burger. This was completely delicious. Nice large patty, crispy and full of flavor. I ate it with a fork so don't know how it would hold up as a sandwich. It was served with a brioche bun. I nibbled it and it was completely delicous and buttery. Slaw served with was just OK - vinegar rather than mayo based which I appreciated.
                        Daughter had the cod cake app. She loved the cakes. It came with a very nice mesclun mix salad and some carrot salad with nori on top. She didn't like the carrot salad - too gingery for her (but she's only 8) but thought the green salad was good.
                        We finished with a shared slice of vegan chocolate cake. It was as expected - cake with no eggs or butter is just different - but it was chocolatey and moist. Tasted like it was moistened with apple sauce, so it had a little bit of a spice cake flavor which we all liked.

                        Overall, very good local meal. Total (including one beer and two Izze sodas) came to around $50.

                        I'd encourage anyone in the area to drop in. They really seem to have worked out the opening kinks and have hit their stride.

                        Oh, and hiddenboston, I had a Peak's IPA (organic) last night. (Yum!) Didn't see Wolaver's on the menu, though.

                        1. Went to Nourish recently, party of three. Bottom line: It was terrible, I'll never go again.

                          There was dirt (you know the kind that feels like grit between your teeth) in each of our three different entrees. What does this say for what is going on inthe back of the house?

                          The service was awful with attitude. The food arrived in no particular order, with the table eventually full of the appetizers we were served (very late,) sharing the table with our cooling main dishes (those with the grit). Questions about the menu were answered incorrectly, following again a very long wait. When we sent a drink back to the bar to be remade (it was terrible, its replacement not much better) the waitress made it clear what an enormous imposition this was on her.

                          The decor and menu are confused,nothing seems quite right, or very good.

                          1. The mixed greens salad was good, but the assortment of cookies was not. When I order a dessert, I want a dessert, not a healthy snack. The oatmeal (cookies?) tasted like protein bars.

                            My boyfriend and I could've done without the big 10 minute spiel by the server about the place as well.

                            1. I've seen great improvement in Nourish since we visited when it first opened. The last meal we had was great - my salmon was cooked perfectly and the smaller portion was just the right size for me. I substituted steamed broccoli as a side and it was not overcooked, which it is in many places. I had the vegetarian chili when we first visited, but it was more like a soup. The next time it was hearty, filling and very tasty. My kids love the hummus, which Nourish makes fresh every day, and pita while my husband is impressed with the ribs. It seems that the staff has settled in and that the kitchen is intent on providing many choices for those who have dietary restrictions. We also tried the desserts for the first time; both the apple crisp and the vegan chocolate cake (recommended by a vegan friend) were hits. My daughter is not thrilled with either kids' pizza or macaroni and cheese, however. They are different that what she's used to getting. If you're looking for French fries, you won't find them here. As a parent, I'm thrilled; my kids have no choice but to find something else on the menu to try. Nourish uses local produce and has many vegetarian and vegan options. If you ask the kitchen to prepare food in a certain way, they will try their best. Not everything at this restaurant is successful, but they are still starting out. They've made a lot of changes since they opened, so it seems as though they are listening to their customers' suggestions.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: camerams

                                I've only eaten there once, but both my husband and I felt hungry afterwards. The black bean burger was tasty enough, but a small amount of mustardy cole slaw on the side just didn't do it for me. Maybe if I had young children I'd be happy about the no-fries policy, but as an adult I like to make my own food choices. It seems a bit disingenuous to me for a place to offer mac and cheese and ribs, but to decide that fries are off limits and "bad". I'd rather dine where I can decide what I want to eat, and what portion size I want. The portion size/value ratio and menu choices just didn't work for us even though we wanted to like the place.

                                1. re: bear

                                  The two times I've been, there have been hits and misses. The good thing is that its another choice in the area, and one can certainly find some half-way healthy options on the menu. Service is sketchy. I would stonly urge the owners about the employees who hang out back smoking. It looks unsightly; smells bad; and then they come in and bring your food without washing their hands and stinking of butts. That is a big issue for me.

                                  1. re: bear

                                    They have fries now. Very mushy on the inside, though, so maybe you should stick with the other sides.

                                2. We went back to Nourish on Friday night, and had a really good experience. I had the smoked quarter chicken with beans and cucumber salad, and husband had a chicken sandwich. It's not anything that would knock your socks off, but you can tell it's prepared healthfully and with a minimum of "fakery". We'd been obligated to eat at Cheesecake Factory on Thursday night (not our choice), and both of us were up most of the night with upset stomachs and dry mouths from the excess salt and ridiculous portions. Eating at Nourish feels like eating at home, without having to cook.

                                  I also have to mention that our waiter, Jen, was incredibly friendly. We've only had her table twice, but she remembered us.

                                  1. Finally, tried Nourish tonight. Though I live in town, I saw the mixed reviews and wanted to give the restaurant a chance to settle in.

                                    Unfortunately, it was not a great experience and I don't expect to return. My wife ordered the tofu in satay sauce over brown rice. Tofu was fine, but the sauce was incredibly salty/sour. And the rice was undercooked, actually crunchy. yuck. This problem goes back 6 months, if you look at the reviews above. We told the waitress at the end of the meal and she said she'd let them know in the kitchen. I would have expected a manager to come over to apologize, but nope. I guess they are fine with patrons complaining about crunchy rice.

                                    On the positive side, I enjoyed the falafel rollup. The falafels were well-cooked and quite tasty and the other ingredients in the rollup were fresh and crunchy. I had asked for the harif hot-sauce, but didn't notice it in the sandwich.

                                    Value is poor. $30 for the tofu, falafel sandwich and a small glass of iced tea ($2.99!!!).

                                    Nice, relaxing space, but it's too bad the food and the value is unacceptable.

                                    1. Anyone been to this place recently? Looks like initial reports were pretty mixed (although the really negative reports were one-time-only posts by new users, which makes me seriously question the veracity of the opinions.)

                                      Anyway, it's still around so...thoughts?

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        This one slipped under my radar for sure. By the looks of the prices, I can't say that I'll be rushing over anytime soon. $11.50 for a black bean veggie burger? Sorry, I'll stay home and make my own. Ditto for vegetarian noodle/stir frys in the $16 range. I'll hit a Thai place for half that, or make my own. If the quality isn't up to par, even more outrage over those prices for standard vegetarian fare. Even Angelica Kitchen in NYC (my favorite vegan spot!) isn't that expensive, and the food is organic, creative and phenomenal!

                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                          They get some good music there but some of the worst food/service i have ever had. I have learned to stick with a beer and french fries and it will be ok to go and enjoy the music..

                                        2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                          My family ate dinner at Nourish about a week ago on a Sunday night. We've been there quite a few times since they opened. I usually get the Vegetarian Chili, which I find to be both tasty and filling; it comes with either pita bread and hummus (made fresh at the restaurant) or a salad. On this visit, my son got the Champagne Salmon, which he thought was delicious. My husband had the Teriyaki Stir Fry with salmon, which was excellent, as well. My daughter was happy with her kid's Chicken Fingers and fries. I had a House Salad with grilled chicken, and asked that they add a small amount of Feta cheese. We were all happy with our meals. Service was good, but not exceptional. That being said, both the food and the service can be somewhat unpredictable. It has certainly improved over time. When the restaurant first opened they were unwilling to make substitutions and the service was poor. Now, if they have the ingredients, they will try their best to accommodate your needs. The owners are committed to offering a variety of fresh and wholesome foods. You should check out their menu before you go: http://www.nourishlexington.com/menu/.... It's a bit pricey and I've been to many places which offer more inventive vegetarian and vegan options. Though we had some pretty marginal food at Nourish when they first opened, I would now rate the food we've had as "good".

                                          1. re: camerams

                                            Really appreciate everyone's responses. If we ever make it there, will definitely post up.

                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                              The menu doesn't seem to indicate gluten-free options though I've heard they offer some...?