Having taken over the space of my once favorite southern food joint on the island, Kiss My Grits, I stepped into the Nook Neighborhood Bistro with a bit of resistance. All was forgiven, though, once I took my first bite into those mochi waffles. Oh those mochi waffles. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Nook Owners, Hailey Berkey and Anicea Campanale, took over the former Grits space and renovated to create a modern, yet relaxed feel. One of the issues with the old space was that it was hot. Dining-in at the old Grits joint was similar to sitting in a sauna with only a towel wrapped around your waist to catch your dripping sweat. The Nook seems to have corrected that problem. The cool setting is a welcome addition to the small space.
In the age of social media, it’s no surprise that the Nook was actually a crowdfunded project. Berkey and Campanale took to the website Foodstart to seek financial backers so that they could open up the Nook. The project was funded in April, and the Nook opened up just three months later.
Some tea to start? The Nook brews the very playful T-We Tea. We had a pot of the Foggy Morning Brekkie, which was a charming breakfast black tea.
The menu features a farm to table concept by using fresh and locally produced ingredients. It’s nice to see that the Nook took the time to be innovative with their menu, while still tailoring it to the local palate. Two dishes in particular caught our eye and paid homage to, as Homer Simpson described, that “magical animal.” The pig.
The Pork Belly Benedict was an absolute delight to consume. The light, yellow, hollandaise sauce was smooth and creamy without overpowering the lust of the pork belly. Sides of kale, fried potatoes, and a toasted baguette completed the dish. Though both the kale and potatoes were perfectly seasoned, it was the toasted baguette with the house made jelly that was the biggest surprise. The house made pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon jelly concoction sat in a tiny silver jar on our table. I now call that jar the “little jar of happiness.” Joel watched as I feverishly spread the pineapple jelly over my toasted baguette with ferocious conviction. Can I get that recipe?
My breakfast partner for the morning, Joel, decided on the BLT, which featured chunky pieces of fried pork belly, micro greens, and local tomatoes. A devilishly good avocado spread on the open-faced baguette provided a modern twist to this classic. You think you’re being a good kid with those micro greens and tomatoes, but let me tell you, that fried pork belly is naughty (in a spectacularly good way). I could have eaten four of these.
We also gave in and placed an order for the Mochiko Chicken with Mochi Waffles. We saved this dish for last. Hey, you can have dessert for breakfast, too. Right? Don’t judge us. As I described it on Instagram, “OMFG these mochi waffles blew my mind. You’re eating a waffle, but you’re tasting mochi. WHAT. And the mochiko chicken was perfect.” This is a must try dish. I imagine it being perfect for that hungover college kid. Or, the hungover college kid at heart. You know who you are.
Am I sad that Kiss My Grits is no more? Sure. Am I happy that The Nook Neighborhood Bistro took over the space? Absolutely. The only question that I have is when will I be visiting the Nook again, because I can’t wait.
The Nook Neighborhood Bistro
1035 University Ave
Honolulu, HI 96826