Tuesday, September 6, 2011


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!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Santa Monica, CA

The Canuck and I were down on Main Street, and being creatures of habit, when faced with where to eat, we settled on Library Alehouse.  We continued being creatures of habit by ordering our usual beers, a Bitburger for the Canuck and a Lost Coast apricot for me.  I was in a healthy mood, so I ordered the Ahi burger with wasabi coleslaw, daikon sprouts and a side salad, but the Canuck chose the Blue & Bacon (again) which as you might guess has bacon, and stilton bleu cheese with fries of course.

Burgers came out looking good as always, and we took our first bites. The ahi burger tasted very plain, so I stole the mustard off the Canuck's plate and then suddenly the ahi burger was delicious.  I don't know why something that supposedly had wasabi in it was so bland, but the mustard made the burg. Side salad tasted way too healthy and boring, it was more like a little pile of rabbit food than a salad.

This time the Blue & Bacon burg was cooked properly - medium - and the flavor combination is delicious as you'd expect for Kobe beef. The sweetness of the onions balanced the salty-ness of the bacon and cheese.  

The Canuck complained about the fries, but I like them bite size and crisp, tossed with parsley.  I concede that they were well done, but what's not to love?  Overall, the food at Library Alehouse is consistently good, but the service not so much.  I don't know if its because we are usually on the back patio, or if its the same up at the bar, but the bus-ers have better game than the servers. Let's be real though, it won't stop me from returning... 

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Hollywood, CA

I made the trek out to Hollywood to catch up with my buddy Leo and we landed at Stout.  I had been to Stout before, but there were several burgs on the menu I still needed to try.  Leo opted for the Shu burger which has pepper jack cheese, bell spread and chipotle sauce.  I went for an equally rich - though less potent burger - the Six Weeker, which consists of brie, fig jam, arugula and caramelized onions.  We caught up on our writing and sipped a Lost Coast apricot wheat beer.  Side orders are large, so we split an order of fries.  

Leo drowned his fries in ketchup while I politely requested mayo, which Leo hates, so I made a point of dipping my fries in the mayo first then the ketchup, just to disgust him.  The fries are more than satisfactory, but nothing to write home about.

Then the burgs came out and conversation took a back seat to nom-ing.  My burger was perfectly cooked, had excellent flavor and the arugula was pleasantly placed under the meat to help prevent sog, although the meat was so juicy this might have been an impossible task.  I do feel like the brie was overshadowed by the caramelized onions, and might alter the ratio of cheese to onion to draw out the subtler flavors.  Leo enjoyed his spicy burg, but I am weak and can't handle that kind of heat. 

The place was busy for a week day lunch, which I suppose adds to the joint's legitimacy.  The staff was friendly and plentiful, and I found it reasonably priced, for the quality of food and location.  If I lived over there, I would really take advantage of the fact that Stout stays open until 4am!