Adventures in Dining

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The Nook May 30 & 31, 2007 June 8, 2007

Filed under: Manhattan Dining,New York Restaurants — hpandaw @ 7:55 pm

Yes, we liked this place enough to return for lunch the next day. It was so good, especially for the amount we paid, that we walked away from here much better satisfied than after our Per Se dinner.

The friend with whom we were dining was good friends with the Nook’s owner, Konrad, and he’d made reservations for us at 8 pm. The Nook is, indeed, a nook in the truest sense of the word. It has maybe 24 seats in the entire restaurant. It’s located on 9th Ave between 50th and 51st St. in Manhattan. Though it’s so close to the theatre district, it isn’t at all the typical touristy restaurant, thankfully.

(The man pictured here is Konrad, the owner, a quirky Polish man)

It’s a BYOB restaurant, and, since our friend had brought along a Villa Bella Amarone, we had a REALLY good time. Great food, great wine, great company.

We started with the Mushroom Cigars with White Truffle Oil, which were Portabello mushrooms and goat cheese wrapped in filo dough. These were outstanding, very rich and flavorful and creamy, and we thoroughly enjoyed them. Unfortunately, we do not have a photo of these.

We also ordered the Tuna Tartare, which was marinated with soy ginger and served with avocado over mixed greens. This was also outstanding: a roll-your-eyes delicious dish. The tuna was as soft as butter, and the creamy avocado complimented the tuna so well. The soy ginger added a nice flavor and sweetness to the dish, which was my favorite of the evening.

Our third appetizer was an order of Rosemary fries, which were done exactly the way we like them. Some people prefer large fries, others thin fries, still others crinkle-cut or waffle-cut fries. These were thin enough to be crispy, but they had enough volume to avoid being shoestring fries. The rosemary added a depth of flavor that worked very well in this dish.

For our entrees, I had the Sashimi Peppered Tuna with avocado and mixed greens. My only regret about this was that I wish there had been more. It was very light, and a dish that I would highly recommend for those interested in healthy choices. The tuna was well cooked, nice and raw on the inside, with a flavorful peppered exterior. Again, the chef had paired avocado with the tuna, and the two worked well together.

My husband ordered the Black Angus steak with peppercorn sauce and rosemary mashed potatoes. Between working on our second bottle of wine, and the excellent conversation, he forgot to specify how to cook the filet when he ordered it. However, he was not disappointed; the filet came out rare, tender, and all that he’d hoped for. It was well-seasoned and delicious, and the accompanying potatoes and asparagus were good, as well. The side of spinach was not as good; it was too bitter and oily for his taste.

We rounded dinner off with an order of apple pie and a side of ice cream. This was quite good, but not as stellar as the appetizers and entrees had been. The pie tasted slightly overcooked, but it was still definitely enjoyable.

Upon leaving, we told Konrad that the two of us would be returning for lunch the next day, and he said to come around 12:30. When we got there at 12:30, the lights were off, the chairs were up on the tables, and Konrad was hanging out. He said that his bread delivery hadn’t come yet, but that he would open up if we gave him 10 minutes. We walked around for almost 15 minutes and came back, to find The Nook open and one other table occupied already.

I ordered the grilled vegetable sandwich on a baguette with a side of the rosemary fries, and my husband ordered the Rachelle’s Spicy Cheddar Burger with rosemary fries. The grilled vegetable sandwich was very good, and the vegetables themselves had a great flavor. The only problem was that, since it was on a baguette, the vegetable filling had a tendency to slide out of the baguette, or to the back of the baguette, or, in essence, anywhere but where I wanted them to be! This is a common problem with baguette sandwiches, I’ve noticed.

The cheddar burger was bigger than he had expected. It was too big for a lunch for him, but a good size for a dinner. The burger probably could have used a little more cheese, but it was flavorful and nicely cooked. It was juicy but not greasy, which was important because of how big it was and how much time it spent in his hands up in the air. The brioche bun was a nice choice, and, had the burger been greasier, it would have destroyed the bun. However, since this burger was not greasy, the two worked very well together.

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