Behind the Menu | Nomad’s coal-fired grills give extra sizzle to bistro-style fare

Gary Seman Jr.
Special to The Columbus Dispatch
The salmon bowl from Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits

Even Patrick Daly has a difficult time describing his own restaurant, Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits, which he said is more French bistro than upscale.

“I just consider us more of a good restaurant,” Daly said. “There’s something for everyone. I think there’s a hole in the market where a bistro would be."

No story about Polaris-based Nomad would be complete without mentioning the two Josper grills, which use a Spanish-style technique complete with levers and vents for heat control. Both are charcoal-fired for high heat but the Basque also used wood for a smoky accent.

Daly said a great example of the melding of the Josper and bistro fare is the steak frites ($38), a ribeye that’s seared to crusty and dusted with salt. He said the oven channels the fat away from the flame so there are no flare ups, which can compromise the flavor of the meat.

It’s plated with potatoes cooked in Spanish olive oil, mixed with vinegar, parsley and garlic and finished in the Josper for a quick, high-heat finish.

“We’ve been really knocking it out of the park with the steak frites,” he said.

The veggie board ($15) offers grilled asparagus, artichokes, green beans, among other vegetables, plus rosemary-whipped goat cheese with lemon, grilled bread and romesco, a roasted red-pepper dipping sauce.

“It’s a lot of food,” Daly said. “So, it’s great for a party of four to share. If they want to try something, they won’t be full before ordering something else.”

A layered bowl ($22) features grilled Alaskan sockeye salmon, saffron rice, cilantro mojo (an emulsion of cilantro, olive oil and garlic), arugula and charcoal-roasted onion, red pepper and tri-colored carrots.

The veggie board

Not everything on the menu spends time on the grill. The salmon cake ($6) is paired with andouille cheddar grits and a spicy aioli. Burrata ($7) is served with crispy polenta and simple marinara sauce.

Still, the grill provides a thrill to most dishes, such as the steak sandwich ($16) which uses the infinitely tender ribeye cap, cheddar, arugula, tomato and dijonnaise dressing on an artisan ciabatta bun from a bakery in Pittsburgh.

Sometimes simplicity rules: shrimp ($9) grilled on a tray with olive oil and garlic is finished with a dash of paprika and served with toasted focaccia.

“It sounds so simple but people say, ‘You need to bottle the sauce,’” Daly said.

At a glance

Where: Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits

Address: 2050 Polaris Parkway, Polaris area

Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, and closed Mondays

Contact: 614-505-8466,