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Restaurant review: Nook

A biscuit is served with sausage gravy and topped with mushrooms, creating one of Nook’s classic breakfast staples. Photo by An Huynh

Nook’s golden biscuits stand tall and robust, an homage to the Southern culinary repertoire. Co-owner, baker, and Atlanta transplant Alex Green channeled Southern sophistication to suit Pacific Northwest palates without sacrificing the biscuit’s brand connotations: down-home and wholesome, yet decidedly Yankee when paired with an espresso beverage. I was told about 100 biscuits are baked daily, and the sale of the last one decides Saturday’s — and usually Sunday’s — closing time.

The restaurant’s four tables and abbreviated counter seating give it an air of exclusivity. This is no more apparent than during Saturday brunch, when the wait for a table has been known to exceed 15 minutes. A blackboard on the wall behind the register outlines the options: breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, sweet biscuits, and “other.”

I ordered the recommended biscuit and sausage gravy, adding tomatoes and mushrooms for a $7 total. Poised for his decision, my brother ordered the breakfast sandwich: a biscuit with bacon, egg, cheddar cheese, and tomato jam for $5. Along with two cups of coffee, the total bill came to around $14.50, far from unreasonable for two people dining on the Ave.

For hot dishes, a small wait is reasonable; although everyone is in some kind of hurry, Nook’s calm interior eliminates the anxious edge. The white walls and aqua-lavender chair rail lend the place a clean, urbane look.

We sat sipping our black coffee in one of the larger booths, admiring the painting of a long-gowned woman above us while we waited for our meals.

Our plates arrived within minutes. The biscuit was served flayed in half, doused in yellow gravy with bits of sausage patty, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Thick, but not lumpy, the gravy was expertly prepared — not too salty nor bland. When sopped in gravy, the biscuit took on a delightfully spongy texture.

My brother nearly unhinged his jaw trying to bite into the breakfast sandwich. The tomato jam tied the hearty combination together, canonizing the sandwich as a breakfast food deity. Many cults were founded upon less. Both plates satisfied hunger and palate, leaving me to momentarily re-evaluate my belief in the divine as I do from time to time.

Other dishes that sounded intriguing were the Nutella-and-banana biscuit ($4.50), for sweet-hounds; the buttermilk biscuit with jam ($3), for purists; and the tomato soup ($2.50 a cup) or chili ($3 a cup), for people who like soup.

Though the gray facade doesn’t beckon passersby quite like the lower Ave’s copious neon-lit storefronts, Nook’s biscuits deserve every epicure’s appreciation.

Look for Nook’s owl logo.

The verdict: A classic breakfast staple, the biscuit is made new again at Nook: inexpensive yet refined morning cuisine.

Reach reporter Al Jacobs at arts@dailyuw.com.

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