Sunday, August 23, 2009

Nuvo Burrito

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Nuvo Burrito
1000 Main Street

Where did the rice in a burrito trend start? Can we blame the chains Chipotle or Qdoba? Are Californians somehow responsible? Certainly rice is important in Mexican cuisine. From what I can tell, though, not usually inside a burrito. Now we’re not purists and if an ingredient makes something better, we’re all for it. It just seems like the rice is a cheap way to make a burrito seem huge, without having any real substance.

I suppose that’s not a good way to start this review of the new East Nashville eatery in Five Points. Nuvo Burrito has a lot going for it: sleek modern d├ęcor, helpful staff, recycled dinnerware and to-go boxes. The location is important. Five Points has a few restaurants, some of which are quite good, but the location could use more given the bar and neighborhood traffic. So, we really wanted to have this to be a good, cheap, filling meal. Cheap and filling are certainly promises fulfilled the good part is so-so.

The burritos are huge. Even cut in half they threaten to explode out of the whole wheat tortilla. That is a nice twist on the burrito concept. The whole wheat makes for a heartier chew. The varieties of burritos are fairly straightforward, with some creative touches. The Lonestar comes with Texas style beef, jalapenos and Spanish rice; the Ozark with pulled chicken and black beans; the Gulf Coaster with shrimp, pesto and Vidalia onions; the Dixie features sweet potato, onion, slaw, relish and bacon bits.

The DC promises lots of pork (get it...pork). The first bite reveals that to be sort of the case. There is pork in there buried under mounds of rice and beans. The real issue is the taste. That pork just can’t hold up to all that other stuff. It doesn’t come through at all. That seems to be a real problem with the rice burrito: everything else gets lost in the mix. The end result is basically okay. Smoke that pork and give it a nice char here and there and suddenly maybe the pig would be able to hold its own against the onslaught of rice.

Aside from burritos the rest of the menu is dominated by quesadillas, which are called “Ques-ideas”. There are a number of interesting combos available including one titled “90210” that has chicken, artichoke hearts, goat cheese, roasted red pepper and pesto. It’s funny, just listing the ingredients makes it sound so good. We didn’t get a chance to sample a “Ques-idea”. Let us know what you think.

The guacamole seems homemade and the taste is okay. It’s a little chilly from the fridge which hurts the flavor. Avocado needs to be at room temperature to get the full flavor. This guacamole just doesn’t have much zing. There appears to be fresh cilantro and they claim garlic is in there, but it would be hard to tell from the taste.

There several options for vegetarians and the ingredient listing on the menu makes it easy to pick them out.

Veggie Eater: There are 2 veggie burritos on the menu. I opted for the Berkeley as the menu boldly touted artichoke hearts. However, I could not discern much of the promised artichoke hearts, which saddened me deeply as I am very fond of them. The burrito was chock full of rice, as noted above, as well as beans, cheese, and spinach. The menu also noted cilantro pesto and cumin-corn relish; the burrito itself had only hints of cilantro and cumin. It was large and half was squirreled away for a lunch at a later date. It was filling and certainly helped soak up happy hour beer. I was just hoping for food with more personality than SatCo or Qdoba.

Meat Eater: It seems like better, bolder ingredients could help make this place shine. The San Francisco Brownie Loaf was a nice desert. I think we’ll pop back into Nuvo Burrito in a couple of months to see how things are going. We paid $25 with tax and tip for two burritos, guacamole, and the brownie.

11/14/09: It’s a whole grain tortilla Thanksgiving at Nuvo Burrito. The Meat Eater has turkey, cranberries and whole grain rice. The Veggie Eater is working on sweet potato and cherries. The Plymouth burrito is good, thanks to lemony poppy seed dressing and tons of fresh spinach. That ground turkey is kinda boring though and the rice rather tame. In all fairness there is an emphasis on eating healthier at Nuvo Burrito and certainly in the Plymouth, with low fat dressing and the relatively healthy turkey. I probably should have gotten something on the un-healthy side of things, like the steak and cheese quesadilla special; although, something tells me that would have a healthy touch as well. Everything just seems to have an understated flavor.

Those corn chips have some sort of peppery seasoning, but they still taste weird to the Meat Eater and the Tommy’s Tomatillo Salsa which they accompany so-so. Here is where the debate (fight) breaks out.

Veggie Eater: Meat Eater and I are both strong personalities, but we generally share opinions about food and music. Not so much this weekend. I enjoy the new Kings of Leon single, he does not (sounds like Journey-M.E.) I thought the meal at Nuvo was satisfying, he did not…such is life and 20 years of marriage. Don’t get me wrong, this meal did not knock my socks off, but it fit the bill. I really appreciate the interesting ingredient combinations that dot the menu. The Yankees in Georgia Ques-Idea (I don’t even like writing that out, but it’s straight off the menu) has sweet potatoes, dried cherries, black beans, and white cheese. My main complaint was that the cherries were sparingly applied and not well dispersed. The cherries are really needed to offset the sweetness of the sweet potato, which is otherwise a bit cloying. I enjoyed the tomatillo sauce; garlicky and slightly tart and found the chips to be fine, though obviously not freshly fried (they don’t have a fryer). The serving size of the quesadilla was more than ample for lunch leftovers. I don’t know that I would make a point of coming here, but if I lived in East Nashville, I would probably stop in to catch a quick meal after work or between errands on a weekend. Nuvo Burrito on Urbanspoon


Carrie said...

I haven't tried this place yet (even though it's in my neighborhood), but "Ques-ideas?" Really? That sort of makes me not want to give it a shot. I love burritos, though, so I'm sure I will at some point.

I'm totally with you on the rice thing. I usually ask for any burrito sans rice (especially at Qdoba, because their rice tastes like dirt).

Jay said...

I decided to try Nuvo and I really enjoyed it. I was concerned about the burrito being loaded with rice but found out that all of there food is made to order and they are happy to make a burrito any way you like it. The staff was very friendly and the place was very clean and cool.

Anonymous said...

You have really given the place an unfair bad rap. I eat there at least once a week and really appreciate all of the marinated meats (not out of a box) and unique flavor combinations. I have customized my orders often, and they are always open to my 'ideas'. The food is full of flavor, filling, and fresh. You should give it another try.

Eric and Katie said...

Fair enough Jay and Anon...we'll get back there soon and update the post. And if anyone feels we missed the point on a review, or should try the place again, please let us know. We appreciate the feedback.

Ashley and Jeremiah Byars said...

The prices at Nuvo are outrageous and the food is incomparable to Baja Burrito, Moes, or Blue Coast!
AND these places sell cheese dip
AND Moes gives free chips and unlimited salsa

Sorry, but it simply doesn't cut it!

P.S. Thanks for the blog- we really enjoy reading your reviews

ceeelcee said...

I agree with Eric about that turkey wrap. (I refuse to call it a burrito.) With the mealy ground turkey and the gummy rice, I couldn't tell where one ingredient started and another ended. It was a mess. And they messed up my order so I had to wait until the rest of the table was finished eating before I ever got my food.

But they were really nice folks, though. I will try again sometime.

Eric and Katie said...

ceeelcee: thank you, now if you could help me with the whole new Kings of Leon CD debate I could get one up on the Veggie Eater. Sounds like Journey, right?

mIKES said...

@ashley, etc - 66% of your preferred places are chain based restaurants.
You can keep em'

Eric and Kate on the other hand, carry the torch for the brave and ambitious small entrepreneurs of Nashville.