The Nook1555 Vassar St.
Reno, NV 89502
My husband and I recently treated my parents to Sunday brunch at The Nook, formerly called the Breakfast and Lunch Nook until taken over in January by new owner and chef David Hutchinson. It really is a nook, tucked out of eyeshot from the road in the Town and Country Shopping Center on the north side of Vassar just off Kietzke. After my mom performed a cell phone search and rescue, we finally settled in. We had the cute and modest interior, as well as the outstanding services of David and wife Yana, to ourselves. With my mom and me choosing from the lunch menu and the men opting for a late breakfast, I had a fine variety from which to judge. Despite one technical breakdown, in which my husband and I simultaneously exploded our ketchup and mustard dispensers—Yana was a swift missionary of mercy in damage control—we had a great meal.
My dad’s Hash Mountain provided two cylindrical patties of corn beef hash over a bed of hash browns and topped with two poached eggs and various cheeses ($6.75).
Not realizing what he was ordering, my husband requested that his custom omelet (house blend of cheeses, mushroom, and olives with three eggs and potatoes on the side, $7.50) include the “pepper/onion” mix, which he envisioned as onions sautéed in oil and pepper. Actually it was a mix of, go figure, fresh red and green peppers and onions. It was a delicious misunderstanding; the additional kick went over beautifully both as omelet constituent and garnish on his country fried potatoes.
My tuna melt ($7.25) was awkward to handle but flavorful, with a bed of chiles laid on the tuna salad before the toasted grain bread was positioned. The pickled chiles made an acceptable taste but also a soggy chore of it. I would skip the chilies next time. Still, one could say it was innovative and a relatively worthy employment of dark meat tuna, of which I’m not usually a fan.
My mom had the Reuben ($7.25). The standard corn beef, kraut and Swiss on rye was accompanied with “real Russian sauce” with horseradish instead of just Thousand Island.
None of us tried any of the weekend “Such a Brunch” specials, but it’s worth noting that, for $11.95 per person, diners can choose among three each of breakfast and lunch options that come with potatoes and choice of fruit or garden salad. An interesting gimmick is the “Chef’s Cold Sandwich Counter,” where a customer can describe a sandwich and then be quoted a price (“in the $6 to $8 range”). Chef Hutchinson promises to “surpass your expectations!”
Another highlight was learning about Hutchinson, a “self-taught” cook who returned to the culinary profession after years as a private contractor in fire safety, including stints in Iraq and Afghanistan. We didn’t peg him for the I-could-tell-you-but-then-I’d-have-to-kill-you type, but we didn’t press for details beyond that. Besides, he’s obviously more interested in his current business than the past and has the authentic friendliness of someone who is having fun with what he’s doing.
And what he and Yana are doing is laudable: Diner personality and diner prices with creative, better-than-diner food. The Nook is a gem that with time should start to become the regular haunt of many in Reno—at least those who find it.