I lived around the corner from Nova during the ice storm in 2013. My good friend Mark lived down the street. One evening, we did what we had done many times before: walked on over. The place was packed, and we got giggly. “Nova is the Cheers of Oak Cliff,” Mark said. The neighborhood appeal is obvious, especially judging by the number of kids. Despite a revamp of the cocktail menu, they’re the same as ever—serviceable and strong. The food menu, too, is mostly different from my last visit. Sometimes the ingredient experiments work. Sometimes they don’t, like the serrano ham and plantain fritters surrounded by sweet pineapple purée. The flavors and textures never melded. Adventurous meat eaters will be intrigued by the Texas wild boar chop, but I was taken in by the sweet-tea brined chicken. It was juicy and flavorful thanks to a peppery spice rub. My friend enjoyed his sliced grilled strip, but after tasting my chicken, conceded that I had the better dish. At one point, our pleasant waitress stopped mid-sentence (she was recommending the chicken) and darted off somewhere for 10 minutes. Her disappearance was never explained. But when a place feels so familiar, you understand that sometimes things are going to get weird. Sometimes you even invite it.