Flavour Crammed in Every NOOK And Cranny
What was to love about my latest visit to this quickly established mainstay in the Kitsilano brunch scene? Clean, bold flavours built around the staples of Italian cuisine, and featuring the seasonal best that the Lower Mainland has to offer.
Whoever built Nook got it right from the start. The room is bright, airy, inviting and perfect for its “beach-centric” location. Who doesn’t love going for a walk along Kitsilano Beach after a delicious Sunday brunch? The great thing about Nook is that the beach is just outside the door. Even on rainy days, the room buzzes with a great energy. Had a long night? This is the kind of space than helps you push it aside, and start the day afresh.
There were a few changes to the menu since last time the Brunch Bestie and I broke morning bread together. While there are holdovers like the pizza and the chopped avocado on toast, the menu had a new, clearer delineation of dishes. There are four categories of specials; a skillet, a sandwich made with a house-made pizza dough roll, a frittata, and a baby Dutch pancake with rotating toppings.
The Bestie and I both chose skillets; she went for baked eggs with Italian sausage and tomato sauce, and I went for the special, root vegetable ratatouille with two poached eggs and sourdough bread. There was a moment of silence for the absence of polenta on the menu. This has always been my favourite place for the skillets with polenta, but the bold flavours of the Italian sausage and the freshness of the root vegetables quickly drove thoughts of creamy polenta from our minds. (Note to Nook: we wouldn’t complain if you ever brought polenta back.)
Both dishes were exceptional for different reasons. The root vegetables were filling but light, and didn’t leave me wanting a nap after my meal. My poached eggs were perfect. The yolk pouring over and mixing perfectly with the mild tomato-based ratatouille sauce.
The sausage skillet would have been too heavy with polenta, and that restraint showed a real maturity in the kitchen. The sausage was loaded with the familiar flavours of spicy Italian sausage, and the tomato sauce had the right level of peppery goodness. It was delicious!
Too often, brunch has become a reflection of the “stick to your ribs” philosophy of cooking. While I love a good carbohydrate and fat-loaded breakfast like the next person, it was nice to still have energy for my day at the end of the meal. Although, I have to admit, that nearly didn’t happen.
After a satisfying brunch and two strong but not bitter Americano coffees, the Bestie and I noticed two tumblers go by that clearly had some type of alcoholic beverage. We inquired, then each quickly ordered our first ever Aperol Spritz. You know me, if it’s before noon, and there’s Prosecco involved, then I’m in.
According to the Aperol website, the Spritz is made with three parts Prosecco, one part Aperol (an Italian aperitif) and a splash of soda. Aperol is a proprietary formula of bitter and sweet orange, and herbs and roots, including rhubarb. It’s a unique flavour, and mixed with Prosecco, it’s got one heck of a punch. While the food didn’t affect my energy level for the day, I can imagine what too much Aperol might do. If you’re tired of the same old Mimosa, then this might be the drink for you.
By the time I was out the door, I was already planning my next hike down Yew St to my friendly neighbourhood Nook. Maybe it’s time you started planning yours, too.
Movie Recommendation: In homage to the Aperol Spritz, a cool, suave sounding drink that I can picture James Bond enjoying the morning after the martini night before, I recommend From Russia with Love. The second Bond film also starred Daniela Bianchi, the former Miss Rome, as the naive “Bond Girl” Tatiana.
Kitsilano 1525 Yew St (they also have a location in the West End at 781 Denman St)
Hours: Brunch Sat & Sunday 10:30am (Kitsilano location only)
Michelle Muldoon is a writer, filmmaker, and an avid foodie. You can find her on Twitter at@chat2michelle.