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New Tucson Restaurant: Nox

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Ever notice how descriptive the cuisine genre has become? Nox, a new Tucson restaurant, opened February 9, and describes itself as “Worldly New American.”

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Nox which opened in the former Café Jasper has been transformed into a cozy hideaway, perhaps where lovers meet clandestinely to eat and drink or where ladies who lunch enjoy a craft cocktail or two. The classic-modern ambiance created by Jason Anderson is one of intimate lighting, aged wood paneling, eclectic art, and a massive chandelier emanating warm flattering light. A wraparound bar which starts inside wraps to the spacious outside patio.

Peter Lindquist, Nox’s executive chef is a 15-year Fox Restaurant Concepts veteran but who most recently was known for his role as executive chef at the Hub in downtown Tucson. Here at Nox, he introduces an ambitious menu with such highlights as grilled baby artichokes with lemon aioli; crispy pork belly tacos; duck confit fries; flat iron steak; blackened beet salad.

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Nox hired Christian Siglin from San Diego’s Craft & Commerce to develop an ambitious craft cocktail and ice program to complement the food. Classics and variations of the classics include Manchurian Mule, Disco Mariachi, Mexican Fire Drill, Brooklyn, Improved Chelsea plus a comprehensive list that is so not your mother’s cocktails. Think rye, dry vermouth, gin, cocchi Americano, vodka, orange bitters, maraschino liqueur, Peychaud bitters, Absinthe, and more for a well stocked craft bar.

For lunch my friend and I got the same bright idea to order the Nox Box. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? We both expected a bento box of sorts but not so. The Nox Box choices offer two or three menu items in the non-existent “box.” We both went for the spicy rock shrimp which was lightly fried with a spicy-sweet glaze, amply served in a bowl. We each also had a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. She opted for the truffle fries and I chose Brussel sprouts with bacon. While the fries were okay, they lacked the necessary truffle-ness. The lusty Brussel sprouts were far better.

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Other salads included seared Ahi salad, kale citrus salad, and Asian chicken salad. Main lunch dishes are seared Ahi tuna sandwich, crispy chicken sandwich, papardelle pasta, grilled salmon, chef’s vegetable plate and a burger. Items are designated gluten free and vegetarian.

Now about the name Nox…according to the press release, nox means night in Latin. So what? And furthermore, according to the press release, Nox is a slight nod to Ernest Hemingway as a writer, hunter, and world traveler. This writer thinks the nod is a tad too slight.

The Urban Dictionary has seven meanings for nox:

1. Nox was one of the best games ever made. It used to be extremely popular before EA games killed all the westwood employees and hid their bodies somewhere in Africa.

2. The nine times equivalent to once twice and thrice.

3. Usage of nitrous oxide while under influence of ecstasy {or vice versa}.

4. No, don't, stop; an emphasis on "no" showing no anger

5. A way to describe something that is totally awesome

6. THE best name ever!

7. Sarcastic maniac who roams the streets looking for fresh meat of those people who don't update their blogs more than once a day.

My money is on #5.

Nox is open daily, has a weekday happy hour from 4 to 7 pm, and is open late night, frequently with music. Nox is a casual, inviting dining addition to the Tucson Foothills, a good place to hang with your friends and make new ones.