Nook is a tiny 12-seat tasting menu experience. It’s what I continually search for – a relaxed, fun-filled evening filled with wonderful flavors and textures. The restaurant is family owned by Noah and Julie Przybylski and they cook and present the evenings’s meal. Aided by some extra servers in the service, you can’t help but be consumed by their joyous and adventurous spirits. The couple met in Chicago in 2005, where the dream of opening their own restaurant hatched. They married in 2007 and welcomed a son in 2014 (whose artwork you can see downstairs). Now they have brought the dream to life with a restaurant that celebrates all that Wisconsin has to offer. A bargain at $125 per person for a 12-14 course meal. Wine pairings are available, but we ordered our own bottle. The tables each seat 2 and they’re lined up about 3 inches apart from each other. As the evening moves on conversations begin to cross over the small separation. Noah presented and explained each course as it came out with good pacing and portion control. I strongly recommend this fabulous place, if you can get a reservation – they go quickly.
Thin crust pizza with Evoo (extra virgin olive oil) was a totally crisp thin “chip” enhanced with a dehydrated sauce of cheese, peppers, mushrooms, onion and olive oil (that I got down). It was very good with tons of flavor and a great texture.
Octopus, cucumber and trout lily were in a vinaigrette with cucamelon and its ginger pickling liquid. The octopus was first cooked in sous vide and then torched and mixed with toasted peanuts. This all imparted a fine blend of flavors to the dish as well as a lovely texture for the octopus. Cucamelons are about the size of a grape with a slightly sweet flavor and a hint of lime.
Peas, ham and cream was the chef’s take on split pea soup. It was out of this world good. Topped with ham and bacon, the pea vines and pods were cooked with onion for stock and blended with whipped cream. The Nueske’s bacon and Jones Dairy Ham are both tops in their field and added an amazing amount of flavor and texture to this rich wonderful blend. A perfect consistency was punctuated with a tad of spice to give it just the right amount of zing. This may have been my favorite course of the meal, but it was hard to pick.
Burrata, asparagus, grapefruit, and pistachio were a salad. The asparagus was raw and very fresh and tender. The sweet grapefruit also contributed some juice to the dish which was topped with chili threads. The grapefruit juice was a perfect mate to the burrata and the nuts added even more texture. It was another good one.
Cannaroli, snail, and ramp were blended into a creamy cheese risotto. Topped with grape hyacinth, the garlic, shallots, and ramps had been deglazed with wine before adding the cream cheese, butter and fresh ramp pesto. The risotto had wonderful rice textures and was so creamy and was a fun mate for the chewy snails. This one again, had so many flavors and lots of textures as well as leaving a delicious aftertaste.
Mackerel was combined with cherry and almonds – both green and roasted – and dressed with olive oil. The cherries were pitted and pickled and also contributed their blossoms to the salt-cured mackerel. The mild fish worked nicely with all the different textures and flavors to yield tasty bite after bite as well as a lovely color display.
“Shrimp cocktail” has been evolving over the 4.5 years of the restaurant with this being a warm version containing Argentinian Red Shrimp. The shells were cooked down and then emulsified with butter for the sauce. Some parsley was added both puréed and crispy to the pickled lemon zest and chili flakes. Another scrumptious plate with very lightly cooked shrimp and a totally rich and flavorful sauce. Lots of contrasts here that were dynamite when mixed together.
Trout, egg, and onion were plated with cured trout belly with roe and deep-fried bagel chips. On one side of the plate was Steelhead Norway cured trout topped with a sunnyside egg on red onion purée. The fish was more mildly flavored than I expected which was fine by me. The egg added richness to the cold smoked trout while the belly was great with the addictive bagel crisps. They were loaded with flavor and a perfect match with the smooth fish.
“Arthur” and yam was from the Arthur Bay Cheese Co. and was all about the edible rind. Some yams were made into the chips on top of a cow’s milk cheese which made the sauce. This was creamy goodness in a bowl. The lovely flavors included the sweet yams and none of this cheese was left in the bowl.
Cactus and chévre were made with cacti from their yard. After cleaning and pairing with sugar it was combined with some citric acid and chilled with liquid nitrogen. Pair this with some goat cheese and you have goodness. While not extraordinary the cactus was mixed with a bit of pear to up its flavor content.
Maple and tangerine were again begun in their backyard. A maple tree yielded a couple of gallons of syrup that was turned into pudding and a maple jello – that was on the side. Top that with some tangerine purée and poached tangerine and alongside put some white chocolate crumbs and finally a topping of whipped cream and a disk of sugar maple and you’ve got one hell of a dessert. Sweet, fruity and still lots of texture along with being a very novel combination. Oh, and did I mention the maple jello cubes were boozy? Yummy.
Lavender, isaronno and cranberry were chocolate bark studded with rice crispies and seasonings of lavender and black pepper. The cranberries were a gel rolled in sugar. Both were very nice.
Sally’s cookie was a butter cookie made in memory of a past employee named Sally. It was very short, sweet and wonderful.