The Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar
By Karen Durrie

Notable and Nash

Chef Michael Noble knew that he only ever wanted to operate two restaurants. He launched Notable in 2010, which quickly became one of the hottest casual-fine-dining tickets in town, with reservation lists for the Montgomery-area eatery often weeks deep. He wasn't actively looking for another venue to open that future second restaurant – the venue sort of came looking for him.

Michael was approached by the Kerr family – owners of Ansonia Property Management, and huge fans of Notable. Passionate about retaining and restoring historic buildings, the Kerrs were redeveloping the old National Hotel in Inglewood, and had a huge main-floor space in the circa-1907 building that would make the perfect blank canvas for a bold and creative restaurateur such as Michael. The chef was sold on the concept. He signed a lease, and then had plenty of time to develop his vision as the work got underway to shore up the integrity of the old building that had seen better days, having sat derelict for at least a decade.

It's food you can relate to. It doesn't intimidate you, but makes you think. - Michael Noble, chef
The Nash serves upscale comfort dishes.
The Nash serves an inspired selection of comfort dishes. Photo by John Gaucher Images.

Modern, Not Museum

"It was a super-raw space," Noble says of the 6,000 square-foot room. His vision for it was to pay homage to the former brick-and-stone railway hotel's 100-plus years of history. Keen to keep the project from taking on a fusty,  museum feel, Michael enlisted the help of interior designer Sarah Ward. "It was a beautiful collaboration,' he says. "We really communicated well, and she achieved what was in my mind's eye for the look and feel of the bright, open dining space, and the sultry look of the bar – we call it 'bad-assery,'" Michael says with a laugh.

The Nash is a bright, airy, whitewashed space that is at once unfussy and elegant, with ample seating for 100. An open kitchen is flanked by a marble countertop, where, on chilly days, the heat from the huge rotisserie oven is a welcome balm. The venue's Off Cut bar, just inside the front entrance, pays homage to the days of prohibition speakeasies, decorated with real mugshots from early Calgary. Red lighting by the ice room is a subtle nod to Inglewood having once been the city's red-light district. The tables are covered with reclaimed boxcar flooring, and the bartender prepares drinks behind a handsome pewter bar top.

"It's a grown-up, thought-provoking space," Michael says, adding he has a healthy hate-on for restaurants that include televisions as part of the decor, so The Nash has none. "If you don't have TVs, you actually talk to each other. It's a place for people to connect, not disconnect, and to watch what's going on in the kitchen. People are fascinated by how kitchens work," he says.

The Nash chef Michael serves gourmet comfort food.
Chef Michael Noble's restaurant pays homage to the former brick-and-stone railway hotel's 100-plus years of history. Photo by Karen Durrie.

Gourmet Comfort Food

The Nash executive chef Matthew Batey helped develop the menu, which is loaded with Michael's signature gourmet comfort food. "The menu here is focused around my beliefs as a chef as to what great food is. Then, I allow my people freedom to create within that," Michael says. Menu offerings include pan-roasted duck breast with bing cherry jus, bison flank steak with brown butter yams, a porchetta and brie sandwich and a quarter chicken meal with hand-cut fries. "It's food you can relate to," he says. "It doesn't intimidate you, but makes you think."

The Nash is located in the historic National Hotel building.
The Nash is located in the historic National Hotel building in Inglewood. Photo by Karen Durrie.
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