Food & Drink

Nine Things About Nook

...Which Is a New Place on the Ave That You Will Really Like

Nine Things About Nook

Kelly O

SO NICE And they also know what the hell they’re doing.

1. Do you like delicious sandwiches and soups and biscuits and sandwiches-on-biscuits that are uncommonly inexpensive? You should know about Nook. It opened last month. It's on the Ave near 50th, it's order-at-the-counter, and it has peculiar hours, which are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 8 to 2, and Sunday from 10 to 3. (Pretty soon, sometime in June, Nook will take a late-afternoon siesta, then reopen for dinnertime; Nook is also getting a liquor license.) If you are reading this during those hours, you may feel free to skip the rest of this rigmarole and go directly to Nook.

2. Nook is nearly unbearably cute. Nook's mascot is a drawing of an owl who lives inside the first o in the Nook logo (which is all lowercase, because: cute). This owl's friend, another owl who is made of metal, holds Nook's door open in nice weather. Nook's tiny space is all freshly painted, but the paint job is of the slightly-wavy-around-the-edges ilk, like you did it yourself. One of Nook's funny little booths puts you and your friend at a 90-degree angle, which I once read somewhere is the optimal angle for people who want to talk to each other, but it also puts either you or your friend facing the wall, which is suboptimal but, in context, cute. The slipcovers on the back of Nook's booths are windowpane-checked and have the telltale hanging threads of things sewn at home (cuter still). Some of Nook's light fixtures, the ones in the front, are made out of Kerr canning jars and are in fact little terrariums with tiny plants in them (head-explodingly cute). Somehow, Nook is never cutesy.

3. The people who run Nook are really nice but not creepily nice, and they also know what the hell they're doing, which is the nicest thing of all. One of them is called Alex Green; he started cooking in his hometown of Atlanta under Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais, and here has done time at Re:Public and Earth & Ocean (which bode very well on a chef's résumé, in different but complementary ways—say, have you been to Re:Public lately? It is as good as, or possibly better than, ever). The other is called Aki Woodward; she is an escapee from the world of advertising and a self-taught baker. They met through friends about a year ago. "We both really like biscuits," Alex explained.

4. Nook has excellent biscuits, baked fresh every day, available until they run out. Alex did a lot of experimenting with the recipe, arriving at a biscuit that is more dense and filling than flaky and light, yet not heavy; you can get it with jam, or Nutella, or bacon/egg/cheddar/tomato jam, or egg/tomato jam/goat cheese spread (see #8), or beef brisket with barbecue sauce. These cost from $2 to $6 each. On weekends, there's biscuit brunch, with biscuits and gravy and all kinds of other greatness. As Stranger reader-reviewer giantladysquirrels put it, "The biscuit with pork rillettes and blue cheese was amazing, and the roasted tomato soup had a nice spicy kick and came with adorable little cheddar biscuits to dunk. Decor is cute without being overly precious [see?]. A great spot for brunch after the farmers' market."

5. Nook's sandwiches are on Grand Central Bakery bread, and they are great. Options might include a meat loaf patty melt (with house-made chipotle ketchup), white bean/preserved lemon/parsley/tomato, pork rillettes (with bacon, blue cheese, tomato, and house-pickled vegetables), and chicken salad (orange aioli, fresh herbs, and more). These are $6 ($5.50 for the white bean one). Then there's customizable grilled cheese—$3 for basic Tillamook cheddar on potato bread, with 11 add-ons from 50 cents up to $2 each (bacon, pickled peppers, sliced apples, the goat cheese spread [see #8] for cheese-on-cheese madness, et cetera). You can and should add fresh herbs at no charge.

6. You should also get soup, which changes daily; my favorite so far is the spicy roasted tomato (see giantladysquirrels, #4). It's also wonderfully smoky. Paprika? I asked Alex. He confirmed this, adding modestly, "It has lots of ingredients."

7. Nook's bathrooms are the opposite of nearly unbearably cute. They seem left over from whatever was here before Nook, which must have closed down because it was a front for the shooting gallery/murdering place/scary-mop preserve of its bathrooms. I trust that the owls just haven't gotten around to sprucing up the bathrooms at Nook yet. (OWLS, SPRUCE—get it?! Nook has this effect on you.) Meanwhile: Don't. Go. In. There.

8. Nook's goat cheese spread is made of goat cheese plus magic. The biscuit sandwich with it is, improbably, better than the one made with bacon.

9. If Nook were on Capitol Hill, it would be overrun. The times that I've been there, it's been quiet, functioning as a haven from the travails of the Ave, including, in one case, a bunch of street toughs hanging out in front of the nearby convenience store who cursed as if they were being paid by the loud obscenity, and, in another case, the U-District street fair, which is best experienced from inside a quiet place with excellent biscuits. People at the street fair look at and touch, say, a display of handbags as if they've never seen merchandise before, ever—like a handbag is a singular fascination newly arrived from outer space. But wait! Here's ANOTHER one!

See you and the owls at Nook. recommended

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Comments (11) RSS

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Venus_Rearmed 1
OK, I just read this review, and since I work less than a block away I had to run over to Nook and give them a try. Let me start by saying that I am from Texas and am VERY picky about my brisket and my biscuits. I am very pleased with my lunch (I got the beef brisket biscuit, and being picky - got the meat on the side of the biscuit.) The brisket is a little sweeter than I am accustomed to (from the Mexican coke) but it is tender and delicious, the biscuit is divine although I think they could add a bit more salt to the biscuit dough. I am pretty sure this is the first absolutely positive feedback I've given to anyplace in Seattle. Did I mention I'm very picky about my food?
Posted by Venus_Rearmed on June 1, 2011 at 1:17 PM · Report this
I keep meaning to stop by there. I'll do it this weekend.
Posted by brokn2pieces on June 1, 2011 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Thanks for your very kind comments about the Nook. I lot of thought and effort went into this project and the positive feedback is much appreciated by Alex and Aki. Alex was too modest to mention that he is a graduate of the American Culinary Institute. Food is his profession as well as their mutual passion.

The restrooms, which are shared with the adjoining restaurant, are in sad condition for reasons beyond the reasonable control of Alex and Aki, e.g. you can only do so much with a bucket and mop. Please focus on their food for the time being and be assured that they also wish the space had nice, new restrooms (hint, hint, Mr. Landlord).

Aki's Dad
Posted by Aki's Dad on June 1, 2011 at 6:40 PM · Report this
Southern style biscuits? Yay!!!

A helpful addition to the article would have been:

"Follow Nook on Twitter @nook206
or Like their Facebook page: Nook206"

Can't wait to try them.
Posted by LSU on June 1, 2011 at 8:38 PM · Report this
Make that "Culinary Institute of America" (er, sorry Alex!)
Posted by Aki's Dad on June 1, 2011 at 8:56 PM · Report this
I love biscuit, will have to try this place
Posted by friedchicken on June 2, 2011 at 6:18 AM · Report this
Your article is just one big over bolstered advertisement....
Posted by Jesus sandwich on June 2, 2011 at 9:42 PM · Report this
This place is lame. Went to try it out and they were out of biscuits, out of hoagie rolls, and out of sandwich fixins before 12:30 on a weekday. FAIL. You can make biscuits and freeze them before baking - they come out exactly the same. These folks need to hire someone who knows how to run a business to whip this place into shape.
Posted by LackingBiscuits on June 10, 2011 at 6:05 PM · Report this
I am a little rusty, but this University way sounds out-of -the way. I think that the columnist should verify UW district, because whether it is or its like, on the other side of, over in the NW or NE, I mean would make this place more convenient to enjoy.
Other than that, Bricks off of 115th and GreenWood is where I would probably end up...comparablly. Is it tipposed to have 2 L's?
Posted by misterdanton on June 15, 2011 at 11:53 AM · Report this
It's not on Capitol Hill, and we like it that way.
Posted by Nic in Greenlake on June 18, 2011 at 1:16 PM · Report this
Alex grew up down the street from me in Atlanta. He's a great guy from a terrific family. No surprise at all that he's found such success at a very original place. If you met his multi-talented family, you'd understand where the creativity comes from - but the ability with food, it seems, is all his own. I've been hearing about his awesome creations for some time now. Damn this gigantic continent! If ever I have the occasion to get my butt to Seattle I will certainly stop by and gorge myself on some biscuits.
Posted by Rich Wilson on June 28, 2011 at 10:47 PM · Report this

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