Dining in the Nook

Friday was a beautiful, hot, sunny Vancouver day. So, as one does when this weather appears, we went and sat on a patio (specifically, Cardero’s – 1583 Coal Harbour Quay) overlooking the water and had a couple drinks and appies with friends. Vancouverites were happy campers on Friday evening.

Carderos patio

We were even happier campers when Katie and Tom brought us into our old neighbourhood, the West End, for a fantastic Italian meal at an aptly named place called Nook (781 Denman Street, Vancouver). Nook was not open when we lived down there, otherwise, we would have eaten there all the time. We were joined by another friend, Sally, and the five us us ate and drank Italian. We had the best time. It’s a reasonably priced restaurant, with a great vibe and awesome food and wine.

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When you arrive at Nook, the first thing you notice is that it sits about 30 people. Maybe. And then you see the chalkboard listing the feature wines and where you write your name and party size. (No reservations.) And then, you wait. Wait time varies and depends on what table is finishing and there is always a small line outside. (If you were a party of 4-6 people, you hated us by the window, because from arrival, wait, ordering, ingesting, and talking, we were there for just over four hours.)

It’s worth the wait, though. While you wait, Brad (who I believe owns the place), will come and see how you are and bring out some samples. If you are over the threshold (liquor laws, very important) you wait with your glass of red or bottle of Peroni in hand. Katie and Tom frequent this place quite often, so they were recognized and we were treated quite well. This is not saying that we wouldn’t have been otherwise. Brad’s a cool dude and a great host, but regulars offer a familiarity (and in our case that night, they also get complimentary dessert wine).

Sometimes you get sat at the bar, and get to watch the bartender mix and some of the food get made. Other times you luck out and get a cozy table. And then you order food and wine, have great conversation; nothing else matters.

My trusty little Canon was at home, so I had to make do with my iPhone camera.

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Brad was always on hand to make sure our glasses and plates were full. The evening started with a lovely wine from the Campania region (which reminded me that for my own sanity and peace of mind, I needed to finish the Napoli Diaries at some point very soon…) called Aglianica Terradora. Divine.

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First up, obviously, were the appies. I’m a big greens person, so I was the only one who wanted the salad, but I must tell you, it was awesome: greens, walnuts, chick peas, a bit of onion – all drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with a tasty pecorino cheese. YUM.

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While I was mostly alone in eating the salad, we all ate the special on the board, burrata – mozzarella wrapped in a shell of mozzarella, served with my capital “F” favourite prosciutto on a crusty piece of bread – and the salami antipasto plate. (The likelihood of my ever becoming a vegetarian is very, very slim.)

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And then, there was pizza. While not made in a wood fire stove like in Napoli, this pizza was a close second to those wood-fired pizzas. Absolutely delicious. It was noisy, so I didn’t hear all the ingredients of the special pizza (top right), but I was all for ordering it because the part that I did hear was that instead of regular red sauce, it was a puree of cream and onion – hello! There was some meat, cheese, and basil, but the sauce made that pizza. Big thumbs up.
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We also ordered the ricotta pizza (with roasted tomatoes, olives, onions, and garlic) and the prosciutto pizza (with arugula, roasted garlic, and red sauce).

By this point, it was time for more vino. This time a fabulous Tuscan Chianti.

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When it came time for dessert, I was all about having some chocolate. They don’t list the desserts on the menu, but on the chalkboard way at the back – my eyes could not see that far in the dim light. So, while I do not remember what my dessert was called (something pretty and Italian), I can say that it was fabulous. It was a layered creation with a base of dense dark chocolate mousse flavoured with a dash of salt (Have you ever had salted chocolate? Try it. Lindt does a salted dark chocolate bar. Good starting point.), a frothy flavoured whipped mousse as the first layer, topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Be still my heart.

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Sean, Tom, and Sally each had ice cream with espresso poured over top. Decaf for Sally, regular espresso for the boys. I’m not a coffee person so I did not appreciate my taste of Sean’s dessert. But he enjoyed it, and that is what matters.

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Katie had tiramisu, which was served slightly differently than is typical. While i did not appreciate the coffee’d up ice cream, the subtle coffee flavour is what makes tiramisu very good.

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And then Brad came along and said “Limoncello, anybody?”. What do you think our answer was? He gave us the standard pour, but then saw that there was a minimal amount left in the bottle. And so our glasses were topped up and an empty bottle left with us to admire and be reminded that this tart and tasty liqueur is 32% and consists of water, sugar, alcohol, and lemon rind. Ah, Italy. Personally, I like the crema version of limoncello a bit better, but this stuff was quite nice – straight from Amalfi. We like Brad.

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And because Brad likes us, he brought us some complimentary dessert wine. Oh dear…

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It was a really nice Friday night out with friends. Thanks, Katie and Tom for introducing us to a great place!

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