I like to think that I know great restaurants.
Whether it’s a popular or an unknown location, I quietly pat myself on the back at the thought that I can help a person find a good place to eat. The same goes for dishes. “Escargot? No don’t get it here, it’s still moving.” Every now and then I’m off my game. For instance, I may not have an answer to where a person can get the best Croatian food. “Um, Croatia?” And then there are the moments of regret when a friend and I order dishes and I look at their plate like, “Why didn’t I think of that?” When I went to Nook Bistro in Los Angeles I experienced my own food regret and there was nothing I could do about it, but quietly finish my food while sneaking bites from their plate.
Sitting at the table I was with TJ and Huong. In between conversations of us catching up that lead into more than welcome tangents, we looked over the menu to decide what to get. Two appetizers and an entrée per person sounded like a great idea. Menus down and orders in, we went back to our tangents. The only thing that could pause the chatter was the first appetizer. We ordered the Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($9) with cilantro, mint and scallions. I never cared for Brussels sprouts until I started this blog. Seeing it so often on a menu made me think there was a slight chance they could be good. After testing the waters once or twice, I now find myself swimming in them. Likewise, I loved going in the deep end with the sprouts served at Nook. They balance the task of being both crispy and soft on a level that only Colonel Sanders can perfect. Add to that, the mint gives them a pleasant accent that made me upset that the sprouts were shared between us. Why didn’t I think of ordering them for myself?
Then there was the second appetizer. I ordered the Crispy Fried Calamari ($12). Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one very much. I did like that the fried calamari was tossed in a citrus-soy vinaigrette and that it was presented with a wasabi dipping sauce. What I didn’t like was the calamari itself. It was a tad misleading to name it “crispy” as it wasn’t crispy at all. In fact, it was very soft and since it sat on top the vinaigrette, it quickly became soggy. It was a bit disappointing because I was really excited about it, but couldn’t eat much of it. Luckily, our entrées came to distract me from my order.
I ordered the Pistacio Crusted Halibut ($25). With the fish was a second appearance of roasted Brussels sprouts, but these came with barley pilaf, apple parsnip puree, and a pea pesto. The dish was creative and I loved how it looked. A fish covered with the vibrant green colored nuts was a first and I received it with arms wide open. Once I cut through the exterior, the fish was so soft and fresh. I really loved how it just came apart and melted into the parsnip puree. The two together was delicious. At least until I looked at TJ’s plate.
TJ’s Grilled Pork Tenderloin ($21) looked like it should have been sitting under my knife and fork instead of his. His plate came with a juicy tenderloin alongside a cauliflower-polenta, charred broccolini, and a plum wine-balsamic reduction. It looked absolutely delicious and watching him eat it quickly become unnerving. I had to get a bite and he knew it. Instead of making me sneak tastes, he offered as any good friend of mine would do. It was just as I thought: the meat was tender and juicy. The best part was each forkful of the pork and the creamy polenta. It was the best dish, at least until I looked at Huong’s plate.
If ordering food were a game, Huong would have won. In our defense, she’s been to the restaurant before so she already had a leg up. She ordered the Pan Seared Dayboat Scallops ($33). Seeing this plate was where my regret peaked. A set of plump scallops sat atop a gorgeous barley and baby squash pilaf with lemon-shallot butter. It seemed simple enough from the description, but it looked amazing. Thankfully, she offered some of her plate to me as TJ had. The scallops had a perfectly smooth texture and were seasoned lightly so the taste was subtle. The style of rice was a perfect pairing as it added extra flavor to the easy scallops. With each bite I wished I had ordered this plate!
I wish I could say that I always choose the best dishes when I go out to eat. Thankfully, I’m in a space where I can say that although I love and practice what I’m doing, I do make food related mistakes. In these cases, I’m lucky to be surrounded by friends who have great taste in food and order dishes that I love. It’s those moments, when I’m stealing from their plate when they aren’t looking that I think, “What a great friend, I hope they don’t expect me to chip in on their bill”.
Address: 11628 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 207-5160
Hours: Sunday through Thursday – 5:30pm to 10:00pm and Friday & Saturday – 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Social: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Food tastes good
- Friendly staff
- Structure or street parking only