Nomad Experience Summary
Today, I went to Nomad in Dogtown on a rec from my good buddy who recommended Protzel's last week, so he was trying to redeem himself here.
Consider him deemed.
He warned me that it had an extra smokey flavor, and man did it ever. I've never had a pastrami sandwich like that before. It crossed the line between pastrami and brisket to the point where your taste buds were exploding with delicious confusion.
I gave it a very, very solid 8.3. My other buddy who went with me gave it an 8.3 (the dry Reuben buddy from my Carl's review). I could easily see someone giving it an 8.5+ or even a 9+ if they were really digging the smokey vibe, but I'm more of a pastrami purist. And the bread, sauce, and cheese were middling IMO.
Don't get me wrong, it was a very good sandwich and unique enough that everyone who pastramis should go taste it. It's a top-five St. Louis sandwich.
Also, the vibes at Nomad are electric. After you order, try to make your way to the patio. It's an awesome adventure with twists and turns around every corner. When you finally get there, you're greeted with a huge, open seating section with warm light and the smell of beer and pastrami.
The two pieces that limit my overall rating are the price and weight. Namely, $17.51 after tax and tip puts this in super expensive sandwich territory. The whole thing only weighs 13.6 ounces, so that's a super low $/oz ratio.
But then the drama starts. For the second week in a row, the listed weight didn't match my actual weight for the meat on the sandwich. The menu says 9oz, I got 7.6 oz. That's a 15% difference.
I'm thinking there might be a pastrami conspiracy in St. Louis…
The Food At Nomad
The two standouts on Yelp and Google to try here are the in-house smoked pastrami and the Dumpster Fire, a double pork patty sandwich with pimento cheese and bacon.
I came for the pastrami, but that Dumpster Fire sounds like a beautiful hot mess with a place in my future, even if I dislike pimento cheese.
The pastrami was truly unique. In all my pastrami-ing across the country, never have I ever experienced anything like this. It pushes the boundaries between pastrami and smoked brisket but stays firmly in the pastrami family.
I gave it an 8.3/10 on my sandwich scale, which puts it between LeGrand's Legend Club and Vivola Express in terms of taste. If you really enjoy the unique pastrami smokiness, I could see this being someone's favorite sandwich in St. Louis.
The pastrami had good fat content, but maybe a little bit drier than Carl's because it was smoked. Don't get me wrong, it's not "dry", it's just less melty in your mouth and more a kick in your mouth.
For some drama, the menu says there is 9 oz of meat. I measured 3.8 oz of meat in half of mine; times two is 7.6 oz of meat in total. That means they were short 1.4oz of meat, or 15%. My scale is accurate, so I'm starting to uncover a city-wide pastrami conspiracy.
The whole sandwich clocked in at 13.6 oz so that 9 oz in the menu wasn't modifying the entire sandwich.
In terms of the eating experience, bring napkins. I attempted to eat half of it without a napkin as a challenge to myself and ended up using my face as a napkin and enjoyed trying to lick off all the extra sauce from my face as part of the experience. If you understandably don't want to use your face and tongue to wipe off all the sauce and the fat, bring a couple of napkins.
The rye bread that it came on was nothing interesting. It was light and fluffy, but it didn't really have any flavor.
The Swiss and special sauce made it more of a pastrami Reuben in spirit, but both were overpowered by the meat's flavor. The spice added a lib burning 1.5 spice out of 6. But in true pastrami fashion, the meat was so flavorful that everything else didn't matter.
If they wanted to try and make it better, I would give them the same rec I give every other deli - get your bread from Union Loafers.
It came with a side of gherkin-y, sliced sandwich pickles. They were okay. A little bit over the top in the seasoning and the flavor for me. Not the worst.
I will say I was still hungry after eating it. It always surprises me how few calories there are in a pure pastrami sandwich on rye. Seven and a half ounces of meat is technically 3.5 servings of pastrami, but it's only like 350 calories. Add in two pieces of bread and a slice of cheese, and you only looking at like 500-550 calories.
So it's not super filling. It could have been served with a side of fries, which would have made the $14 price tag more palatable. I ate a side of chips when I got home after lunch.
All in all, a really, really good sandwich.
Nomad Atmosphere And Miscellaneous
Nomad itself was an awesome, awesome space.
You walk in and order in front of big screens in the first room. After ordering, they give you a number for your table (And it took 7 minutes to get the food based on my time stamps in case you're in a rush).
After you order, the game is to get back to the patio. But to get there, you have to go through a labyrinth of ever-expanding rooms. Here we go…
After leaving the initial ordering room, you go to a seating area with maybe six or seven tables, which you pass through to get to the first half of the bar before waking through a doorframe into the second half of the bar, at which point you have to start looking on the right for a little alley hallway which takes you past a set of bathrooms to a rickety door which will open up into the indoor part of the indoor/outdoor patio.
The patio's fantastic. There are maybe a dozen tables out there on a heated indoor patio portion before yet another door opens up to the outdoor patio. The indoor patio has another bar, that's two bars in Nomad for those following along at home, that serves $4 beers. The patio had ample seating and a great beer garden feel.
Strong St. Louis vibes.
The whole part of Dogtown I drove and walked through had this same great vibe. It gets you really excited to eat a sandwich.
Parking At Nomad
I parked on the street about a two-minute walk away for fun. I wanted to get a little bit of a walk-in. I probably could have gotten closer, but, you know, gotta get my steps for the day.
Sandwich Size Comparisons