West Los Angeles, CA
My best Canadian and I kept hearing about this new place called Nook. We heard it was on the corner of Bundy and Santa Monica, so we set out on foot, but when we reached the intersection and saw nothing called Nook, we hit up the iphone for better directions and found we had several blocks to go. The IHOP was tempting due to laziness, however we continued on, and it was definitely worth the walk. Its buried in the corner of a mini mall, with nothing but a bright orange door indicating there's something back there. The inside had a crowded but pleasant ambiance, with a few small tables and a couple big, tall bar tables that were family style seating. We climbed into our high chairs and tried to wriggle them up to the table. The menu was small but everything seemed tantalizing.
We both chose the Nook Burger, made with gruyere cheese, red wine-onion jam and baby arugula on grilled rustic bread. We opted for fries of course and then the waiter offered us something that I didn't quite hear, but I never say no to free food, so I responded 'yes, please!' He then placed a little dish of boiled peanuts in front of us. I had never heard of such a thing but according to the Canuck its very common in the south. I was absolutely fascinated by them and wanted to make my own version immediately by boiling them with garlic or some such thing.
The burger had rich flavors that complimented the perfectly cooked meat well. The lower bun definitely got a little soggy, but overall, tasty. During all this recon I've seen a redefining of "the restaurant burger:" it always has caramelized onions and arugula, and the cheese is usually gruyere or stilton. Every up and coming restaurant puts this "gourmet" burger on their menu, regardless of cuisine. The Nook is a relatively new restaurant, and while the quality of ingredients upped the flavor, it seemed like it was on the menu simply because of this unspoken rule that you must offer a gourmet burg.
The fries I enjoyed, though they were similar to the Library fries the Canuck is not so into, and they came with a lemon aioli that was quite original. Once the Canuck realized there was a wasabi aioli, that drowned out the disappointment he felt over the crispy fries. I haven't been back to Nook yet, but I have a feeling the other items on the menu are going to be much more interesting- I want the shrimp and grits. The Canuck suggests making reservations if you want a private table, all conversations are open to eavesdropping at the family style seating!