At Nobie’s, the creative Montrose restaurant helmed by chef Martin Stayer, there’s no dish on the menu more decadent than the Freak In The Sheets. A luscious plate that combines delicate sheets of squid ink pasta, buttery uni, tender Gulf crab, and smoky trout roe, it’s quickly become one of the restaurant’s most popular offerings.
“We sell out most nights,” Stayer says. “We don’t have a lot of space for refrigerated storage, so we don’t bring in a lot of luxury products on any given day. If our fridge goes down, we don’t want to lose a lot. I also make all the pasta by hand, and I can only do so much, especially nowadays with running two restaurants and everything else going on.”
The dish got its origins as a different type of pasta altogether — a riff on spaghetti alla chitarra that was made with squid ink, layered with butter and king crab, and topped with an airy clam foam. After hanging around on the menu for a while, Stayer got tired of the dish, but eventually decided to reimagine it thanks to customer demand. “Everyone was begging me to bring this crab pasta back, and I decided to do it just a little bit differently this time.”
Wondering how one of Montrose’s most popular dishes is made? Take a peek below at the process step-by-step, courtesy of Eater photographer Caroline Fontenot.
First, Stayer makes the pitch-black pasta. Made only with two different types of flour — semolina, and 00 wheat — eggs, and squid ink, the dough is rolled into thin sheets and cut into a “handkerchief” shape.
Then, the chef prepares a sauce for the pasta, starting with a compound butter that’s made with togarashi. That butter is combined with pureed sea urchin roe, or uni, that’s been passed through a sieve for a super-smooth texture. In the meantime, Stayer brines fresh crab — that step ensures that the crab stays nice and tender — and poaches the meat in butter.
Next, the pasta is prepared in boiling water, then placed in a hot pan with some of that uni-togarashi compound butter sauce and a little pasta water to emulsify the silky sauce.
Now, it’s time to plate the dish. Stayer and his team take extra care to ensure that the sheets of handkerchief pasta are folded just so — to ensure that there are little morsels of crab meat and trout roe in each bite.
Then, Stayer tops the plate with a light, aerated potato puree that’s infused with clam juice for even more briny kick. More crab is layered on top, along with a large spoonful of plump, lightly smoked trout roe.
Finally, the dish is garnished with a sprinkle of bee pollen and lemon zest, which adds both floral notes and a dose of punchy brightness.