Haddam’s Nook specializes in culinary comforts
TV viewers of a certain age and/or temperament might remember the series “Twin Peaks,” in which Kyle McLaughlin’s Agent Dale Cooper frequently expounded on the soul-nourishing benefits of hot, black coffee.
Well, you won’t find the Log Lady at the counter at The Nook in Haddam, but what Agent Cooper might’ve dubbed “damn good coffee” certainly is — that is, if strong, smooth brew is your cuppa. To diner-heads like me, if an eatery has coffee that’s anywhere from serviceable to damn good, we’re in. Most menu mishaps will be easily forgiven if we can just have another refill.
As it turns out, the Nook serves up some damn fine food, too.
We probably ate what should have been our total caloric intake for the day during one breakfast mission to the Nook. For me, an egg white omelet ($8.95; comes with toast and home fries of the diced potato variety) and for the mister, an item called The Rode: steak, eggs, cheese, and bacon served between two fluffy waffles ($9.95; comes with home fries). I’ll let you guess which one emerged the favorite.
Not to slight the egg-white omelet, which was sizeable and cooked to perfection — no easy feat when you take the yolks out of the egg equation. There was a slight miscommunication with my order, but it turned out so well, I didn’t even press it. I asked if veggies or other items could be added to the basic egg-white omelet; our server said yes. I requested tomatoes and cheddar. What I got was the egg-white VEGGIE omelet, a separate item on the menu that includes peppers, mushrooms, and onions, along with the tomatoes and cheddar. It looked too good not to try upon arrival, and since I have no allergies to consider, I gave it a shot before bringing up the confusion.
It was very good, and I hereby have no complaints — and I technically don’t really LIKE mushrooms, which, I must admit, lent an excellent layer of savory flavor to the veggie-riffic dish. As for the other veggies, they were sautéed perfectly and diced to just the right size for an omelet.
Back to The Rode. Along with its two breakfast meats, cheese, and eggs, this waffle sandwich also includes peppers and onions. And it works. Who knew buttery waffles pair well with sautéed veggies and cheese? The secret might lie in the middle, with the properly prepped breakfast steak (tender and tasty), slightly crisped bacon, and perfectly rendered eggs bringing the two worlds together. Note: This one’s a knife-and-forker because the distance from ample waffle to waffle is at least an inch or two of the goodies within. We finished half and happily demolished the rest later that night — and it was still pretty darn good post-fridge.
Our other favorite item was a happy surprise. When the mister sees biscuits and gravy on offer, he’s going to order it, and only recently have I begun to appreciate the dish when it’s prepped by capable hands. Both newbie me and old-hat him have dubbed The Nook’s biscuits and gravy ($5.95) the ones to beat (at least in the Northeast). From the nobbly biscuits that retained texture and firmness to the gravy itself — flavorful, rich, and not at all too salty like many others — we heartily recommend the Nook’s to anyone with a hankering for some southern-style comfort food.
Speaking of comfort-food classics, on my next visit, I went with two: one buttermilk pancake ($3.95) and a side of corned beef hash ($5.95). Though salty, the hash’s texture — moist with some toothiness to the beef — and its overall flavor, whether from seasonings or the grill or both, was a welcome and tasty addition to the large, slightly sweet, pillow-soft pancake.
When it comes to diner food, I almost always opt for breakfast for lunch/dinner, but in the name of science, I recently grabbed a Nook lunch to go. Not an easy task when you observe the length and depth of the lunch menu. I landed on the Greek salad ($9.95) and the Chicken BLT Wrap ($9.95; comes with bag of chips and pickles).
I expected something a bit more substantial for the price of the chicken wrap, which fell somewhere between a burrito and a taquito, size-wise. The combination of diced chicken, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce seemed a winner. Per the menu, the wrap also was supposed to come with mayo, which I eschewed, and American cheese, which I believe was missing from mine. Light grilling to the wrap boosted its flavor, but my choice to go mayo-free likely contributed to the overall lack of cohesion. It was, as the experts say, just OK.
You may scoff at a $10 salad, but the size of the thing helps to justify the price, which gets you tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, pepperoncini, feta cheese and olives (although I went without the olives) atop a thick bed of chopped greens. The salad stands well on its own (indeed, the tomatoes were particularly good), but the accompanying lemon-herb dressing is so fantastic, you’ll likely use more than your usual. It’s light, tangy, and a great companion to the feta.
There is much more ground to cover at The Nook, and we look forward to our next visit. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, after all, and The Nook adds a nice option to our local selection of early-morning eateries.
The Nook Diner
1610 Saybrook Road, Haddam
Best info is on Facebook
Cuisine: Diner classics for breakfast and lunch; omelets, pancakes, Benedicts, wraps, sandwiches, burgers
Atmosphere: Honey and spacious at the same time, with lots of seating, including booths tables, and counters. Vintage kitchenware and advertisements on the walls are cheery and fun to check out between cups of coffee
Service: Very, very friendly
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
Prices: Quite fair. A double stack of pancakes is $4.95; omelets start at $4.95 for just cheese, and a steak omelet with run you $12.95, which is the highest price point on the both menus (other items at that price include the NY Strip Steak and the Salmon River Salad)
Credit cards: Cash preferred and a cheaper option for customers; credit cards subject to interest charge
Handicapped access: The stairs to enter; spacious interior