UPC’s Restaurant Review: Nook, NYC
Nook used to be one of my favorite places to go eat before switching to Paleo. As can be expected, my dietary needs have changed my review criteria for restaurants, and as a result, I’ve been less inclined to head to my old haunts. Of course Nook was one of them. But here it is, making it’s debut Paleo review (to my knowledge)!
Location and Presentation:
Nook is a difficult restaurant to find. It has no website, it is a small location with a small storefront in a strangely difficult location. Even knowing where I am going, I often miss the door to the restaurant the first time I pass it. Not to mention the fact that, in Hell’s Kitchen NYC, the streets are almost always bustling.
The restaurant itself is quite nice inside. The entire 7 feet of street-front space is a window and full-window door. There is a tasteful curtain on the window to give it some decorative value, as well as a bit of insulation from the intense summer heat. The indoors is quaint, with a total capacity of perhaps 20 people in a party, or 6 tables for individual seating. It’s the perfect place to take a special person for a nice dinner out, or when your parents are in town.
Nook is definitely not geared for Paleo eaters, and so it was a little challenging to read the menu as a Paleo diner. It has almost entirely grain-based meals. They were delightful, back in the day, but since that’s not my fare any longer, I am forced to use my creativity, charm, and potential tip to get off-menu meals served to me and my wife. The wait staff at Nook are always pleasant and willing to work with their guests, so it’s a little easier here than at most places. There’s so few customers that the one waiter is guaranteed to have a few extra moments to contemplate your allergies. And yes, all grains and beans are allergies! If you don’t use that special word, it often your preferences won’t be respected!
Tuna Tartar: My wife and I ordered the Tuna Tartar as an appetizer. The menu version of the Tuna Tartar had soy in it, as well as on it. We asked if this was a pre-made item, or if the Chef would be able to prepare it for us using olive oil rather than soy. It was a success, and it was delicious!!
Grilled Pear Salad: Grilled pear is becoming a thing. I’ve seen it in more than a few of the restaurants that I’ve been to. It’s not that I’m complaining, I love the trend of using fruit, rather than sugared salad dressings, to sweeten a salad and make it more appetizing to the non-Paleo crowd! The result for me, and you other Paleo eaters, is something that almost tastes like a desert! It’s sweet, succulent, and the flavor of the pear combined with the balsamic vinegar is excellent!
Filet Mignon: I ordered the Filet Mignon. It was cooked to perfection, and delicious! I could have survived just fine without the mashed potatoes, but the asparagus spears were quite nice. They were lightly sauteed in butter and garnished with chives. The tenderness and flavor of the beef was just right!
Pricing and other items:
Nook is a “BYOB” restaurant, which I like a lot. A liquor license in NYC can cost more than the entire start-up costs of the restaurant combined. And often the high price of the better-quality restaurants has to do with the price of buying a liquor license, along with the other prices of real estate, etc. Nook is not burdened with that issue, so the prices for the food is quite reasonable, and all the more reason to frequent the establishment. You get the best of both worlds: You get to choose the wine you want to drink, not pay the exorbitant restaurant-liquor charges, and still have a great meal for a decent price!
Notes for Nook dining as a Paleo diner:
- As with ALL restaurants, be very careful with your menu items. Ask the waiter what’s in your food, and explain your food allergies. Don’t be afraid to ask that the chef change your meal – the Nook chef will, and you’ll love the result! Your dining experience will be infinitely better if you enjoy your food during and after your meal!
- Nook is a BYOB restaurant, so bring a bottle of your favorite wine. And enjoy the fact that it’s not going to be 4x the price of the liquor store!
- Finding the restaurant is a little challenging, but do not despair. It’s there, hidden in between other more brightly colored doors. If you miss it, just go looking for it again.