New York Nook, cozy space produces excellent food

View from outside

This post is long overdue.  Our apologies to our readers and the restaurant.

Following a wonderful day of sightseeing and spending some time in central park, TasteBudA and I set out to find a unique location for a Saturday night dinner in Manhattan.  We purposely went into the trip planning on just “winging it” when it came to food.  So not having done much research for dinner options, we aimed for a dinner time after the shows would have started, in hopes to avoid the rush.  Thanks to a little help from my Urbanspoon app on my Andoid phone, we were ecstatic to have found a BYOB restaurant, Nook, just west of our hotel in Hell’s Kitchen.  Although, I didn’t picture Manhattan to have many (or any) BYOB locations, I figured it was worth a shot to check.

The name Nook explains the size of this restaurant.  It is a restaurant nestled in between some other businesses.  I’d estimate, the dining room couldn’t have been more than 15 feet wide and maybe 30 feet deep with table tops for about 24 diners.  Fortunately it was a nice night outside, and there was a bench to wait for our table to open up.  And although we waited probably 20 minutes to be seated, it was well worth the wait.  The food was prepared wonderfully and the owner/waiter/manager/host seemed to have everything completely under control and the restaurant ran without a hitch.

Spicy citrus-marinated shrimp

Selecting our entrees was quite difficult as everything looked so good coming out of the kitchen – and yes, while sitting there, we saw almost every entree offered come out of the kitchen.  To start we had the Mushroom Cigars, pan-seared portabella mushrooms mixed with sage and goat cheese, wrapped in filo dough and lightly drizzled with white truffle oil.  It is the only thing not pictured below due to an unflattering picture of TasteBudB holding one.  They were like nothing I’d ever tasted and probably the only kind of cigar I’d even venture to pose with.

Stuffed pork with chive mashed potatoes and salad greens.

For our entrees, we decided on a spicy, citrus-marinated shrimp for TasteBudB (pictured above) and the stuffed pork with chive mashed potatoes and salad greens.  We found them both to be filling to our stomachs, tasteful in our mouths and even visually pleasing to the eye.  I guess overall, that would mean well satisfied.

As you might expect, dining in such close quarters allows you to get to know the folks dining near you, especially for outgoing individuals like ourselves.  So, even though we had no room for dessert, after some brief after dinner conversation with the table next to us, we asked if we could get a shot of their dessert, which they happily obliged.  Alas, we ate it soley with our eyes.

Nook is a wonderful gem to find on the streets of New York.  I think you would be hard-pressed to find somewhere as quaint, delicious, and affordable (under $75 including the pre-purchased bottle of wine).

A picture perfect dessert from the nearby table.

Nook Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Giorgio’s Place

Giorgio's Place on UrbanspoonThis sit down pizza place on Western Ave of the Northside offers a simple, but delicious menu. We will caution that the restaurant is cash-only, but there is a 7-Eleven with an ATM only a block away. (Before we could realize it, we sadly witnessed two local soldiers walk away because they didn’t have cash.)

I was impressed with the side salad, it was well beyond a bagged salad that we’ve gotten from similar-sized restaurants. The pizza was very good, but the stromboli was more impressive. The sausage stromboli was packed with sliced, italian link sausage and a generous amount of cheese.
All and all, it was a simple dinner that was satisfying. If they were open on Sundays, we’d gladly work them into our Steelers pizza rotation.

Subway Sub of the Month – November 2011

The November 2011 $5 Featured Footlong is the Chicken Marinara Melt.  This Sub of the Month made its debut about 2 years ago along with the Chicken Cordon Bleu Melt, but seems to have prevailed over it’s “sister” sandwich. 

This is personally not my favorite option on the Subway menu, as it is basically a meatball sub made with the oven roasted chicken breasts instead.  You’ll notice that this month there is no photo of the sandwich, and that is because I don’t think the sandwich would travel well to-go.  Even with toasted bread, I have found in my previous experience of covering a sub in marinara sauce that it gets soggy quickly.  However, if you can eat it while it’s hot, there is a lot of taste that can be had. 

If you want to have something hot, cheesy and saucy as we head into the winter months, here are a couple ordering suggestions:

  1. Have them toast the chicken, cheese and bread before adding the marinara.  This will give you some extra time to eat before the bread gets soggy from the marinara.
  2. Think carefully about your cheeses.  Do you really want to up the sodium and fat content by adding parmesan cheese?
  3. Choose any veggies wisely.  Some veggies, like olives and pickles don’t maintain the same, briny flavor once you warm them, so be sure you know what you’re in for before you ask for too many on your sandwich. 

In addition to the $5 Featured Footlong, Subway is trying to get us to scrape our frosty November windshields and get our Subway fix before 9am.

For the month of November, Get a FREE 6″ sandwich with the purchase of any 6″ sandwich (of equal or lesser value). Their website indicates that the full menu of Subway subs should be available for purchase before 9am.

So perhaps, instead of stopping into your local coffee shop for a breakfast sandwich and a espresso, you should try out a Subway six-inch breakfast sandwich and get a second six-inch sandwich to go for lunch. Choose wisely though, as some sandwiches may not hold up (or hold together) in taste.

I recommend avoiding tomatoes, vinegar or mayonaise from your sandwich. Or if you are awake enough to remember as you stumble through the Subway door so early in the morning, try asking for your dressing on the side so you can add it to your lunch sandwich when the time comes.

El Campesino new menu option, Cinco de Mayo

El Campesino on UrbanspoonCinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration directly translated “fifth of May,” is just one of several new dishes offered at El Campesino on McKnight Road. Though I don’t believe there is any direct correllation to the holiday, I ordered this entree as PghTasteBudA and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary where we had our first date. Though we didn’t indulge in a pitcher of margaritas this time, the meal was a filling, delicious way to celebrate our occasion.

I can easily simplify the Cinco de Mayo into a “cut your own meat strips” fajita/taco dish with both chicken and beef. The unique treat was the fried jalapeño which did add a nice kick in the heat category. As you can see from the picture, it was a lot of food, which I did not finish, but it was a solid menu option.