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A Heavenly Nook in Hell’s Kitchen

This past weekend, Tom pulled himself away from his work so that we could have a New York City date night.  For Christmas, he gave me tickets for The Lion King – the one Broadway play I have wanted to see for years.  The day finally came and despite the bitter freezing cold, having a touristy night in midtown was amazing.

Times Square, New York, NY
Times Square, New York, NY

Finding a BYOB in Manhattan is like finding someone who still lives in a rent controlled apartment.  I’ve heard of Nook before, but it wasn’t until I was talking to a co-worker that I learned it was one of those rare BYOB gems! Of course, it was literally two blocks from Kiley’s old apartment so I have no idea how I’ve gone so long without experiencing this delicious hole in the wall.  Where New York is known for their extravagant, fancy, thematic restaurants, those who eat here every weekend know the little, private, word-of-mouth spots are the real treats in the city.

The reviews warned me that it is literally a nook with absolutely no elbow room.  We actually walked right by it when I knew the exact address.  There were about 7 tables in total, and the owner (who was also the waiter/host/bus boy) had to turn people away.  Luckily, I made reservations (plus, we were early for Manhattan time since we had an 8:00 show).

The owner/waiter was friendly to us, but we could tell he was getting annoyed with needy customers.  Fortunately, we were happy and pleasant that night.  This place may be tight, but the guy has everything down to a system.  There are no substitutions on his menu, he has one special per day, and it seems like a place that is just a no bullshit, delicious restaurant.

We started with the Mushroom Cigars which had rave reviews online.  They certainly did not disappoint, especially since they contain some of my favorite ingredients – portabello mushrooms, goat cheese, and truffle oil – all fried into one delicious puff pastry.

Mushroom Cigars at Nook, Hell's Kitchen
Mushroom Cigars at Nook, Hell’s Kitchen

For dinner, Tom and I split two meals (that’s our thing since we both like to eat EVERYTHING).  We had the Steak Frites – steak in a balsamic reduction sauce with rosemary fries and field greens.

Steak Frites at Nook
Steak Frites with Rosemary Fries

We also tried the Tuscan Chicken which was stuffed with ricotta and spinach and served in a parmesan sauce with chive mashed potatoes.  WOW.  It was all amazing – every bite.  I don’t know what I liked better, but I didn’t want it to end.  It was a combination of perfect ingredients clearly prepared by a skilled chef, cooked perfectly, and paired with the perfect sides.  This was the best meal I’ve had in a while.

Tuscan Chicken, stuffed with ricotta and spinach
Tuscan Chicken, stuffed with ricotta and spinach

I hardly ever order dessert but I had done too much reading online and learned the peanut butter pie was also to die for.  So, we split a piece and it was as great as the reviews promised.  It was not too sweet (which is usually my issue with desserts) and you could tell it was a homemade specialty.  Yum!

Peanut Butter Pie, famous at Nook
Peanut Butter Pie, famous at Nook

Then we waddled to Minskoff Theater, grabbed a drink across the street on the eighth floor of the Marriott Marquis to kill some time (and not wait in the cold) and then headed to our show.

Can you feel the love tonight?
Can you feel the love tonight?

Now about The Lion King…If you haven’t been, this is the show to see.  It’s by far my favorite show, if not due to the sincere uniqueness of it, the amazing costume design, the fabulous acting, then maybe it’s the nostalgia that really got me. From the first scene, I was mesmerized by every element of this show and I would see it again in a heart beat.

So, if you are looking for a NYC date night or have been considering seeing a show, I highly recommend our itinerary.  Nook for a reasonably priced dinner that will not disappoint followed by the best show on Broadway – what a solid Saturday.

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