11628 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles

Sister restaurant
Bergamont Café
2525 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, Ca. 90404
310 828 4001

Everyone these days seem to have a great restaurant to share with The Dining Duo. But when our new friend Susanne who is an international “foodie” told us her favorite new hot spot in all of Los Angeles is THE NOOK, we just had to go. We packed our bags for a field trip west of the 405 freeway and met there for an early dinner on a Saturday evening. It was lucky we arrived at 6 PM because by 7 PM because there was already a line out the door.

Tucked into a corner of a nondescript strip mall in West Los Angeles, east of Barrington, is a small storefront of no consequence from the outside; but inside we discovered a clean, modern look with a slight Asian sensibility. With only a few booths, several tables and a long, festival-seating elevated table at the restaurant’s center, we feasted on new traditional California comfort food, which Michael adores and Scott eats hesitantly due to his slightly expanding waistline. No matter, everyone knows that size 34 is the new 31.

The host and co owner Brian Frith-Smith, is always warm and welcoming, and quite a looker too. The three partners, Brian, Jeff Stupler and chef James Richardson also are the proprietors of The Bergamont Café, at Bergamont station, which offers a similar genre of food (and is a superb lunch spot while shopping for art).

The Nook’s dinner selections offer up a Grilled Skirt Steak, which arrived perfectly prepared at the requested medium rare. Life would not be complete without a side of their scrumptious Macaroni and Cheese, which was cooked with three different cheeses (parmesan, cheddar and gruyere) and is definitely not your Mom’s old Mac & Cheese (not that Michael’s Mom even knew where the kitchen was located. You’ve heard us use superlatives before, but this dish was truly the best Mac and Cheese we have ever tasted, (we loved Vibrato’s too, but this is even better) and remains one of the menu items which keeps bringing us back for more. During lunch, this is served with a delicious Caesar salad as an entrée for a very reasonable $9.

As we have said before, Michael is the burger aficionado and the Nook’s Sterling silver beef burger (ADD THE PRICE) is accompanied by crispy slim fries, and if you like, even a homemade pickle that puckers just the right amount of sour. It would have made our top five list if we had tasted it prior to that review. A burger is so simple but requires a great deal of thought to prepare exceptionally and the Nook has it down pat(ty). Our pet peeve is when your hunk of meat (either the one on your plate or the one sitting across the table from you) arrives undercooked or overcooked. Michael demands his meat medium rare and on every visit, this burger with Gruyere cheese and fried onions was delivered perfectly. Scott demands his hunk of meat with big muscles and a tank top, but that wasn’t on this menu. Our best friend, “Kurt the Cyberguy”, asked for his burger medium well, and as if by magic, it was done just right.

Don’t overlook the desserts, particularly the Chocolate Pot de Crème with strawberries at $6; Scott the consummate chocoholic was in paradise as he moaned with pleasure over this densely chocolate finale. All this great food and moaning makes for a perfect recipe for a little after dinner nookie at the nook.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 5:57 PM | , , , | 0 comments »

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