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Good food at a price that's right

WILSON -- My first thought upon glancing at the menu at The Nook was something like, "When did we teleport onto the set of The Price Is Right?"

One side of my brain pondered why all the prices ended in "3," while the other just wondered why we were worried about prices at all when the stomach was about to stage a coup?

And, by the way, where's Bob Barker?

I don't want to say which side of the brain was right, but I have to admit that it did seem pointless to even bother looking at the prices -- they were right, indeed! Nothing seemed like a bad move on a menu that topped out around $8.

Sorry, make that $8.03.

On our first visit, my daughter's boyfriend and I were about to embark on a rather ambitious roofing project, and fueling up seemed like a wise move for the long day ahead. As such, Gene chose a ham-and-cheese omelette ($4.63) with a side order of hash browns ($1.63). I went for the eggs Benedict ($5.03) sided with some crisp bacon ($2.04 -- hey, what's the deal with that price?)

Located at Young and Lake in the heart of downtown Wilson, The Nook is a little diner that looks like it was imported directly from the 1950s. Consisting of a few tables, a vintage counter with stools and a cooler chilling the homemade pies of the day, it screams "small town," and that's exactly what you get there.

The service was good, the people friendly, the food solid but unspectacular, like something Aunt Bee would put out for Andy and Barney and the girls.

The highlight for me was the eggs Benedict. The poached eggs and ham themselves are easy enough, but the Hollandaise sauce that is the signature of this dish can be tricky, to say the least. The Nook had it done right -- smooth, creamy, buttery with a hint of spice. Not too thick, not overly heated so that it separates and runs. It was tasty, with a nice little kick, served atop an English muffin.

The omelette and hash browns were quite serviceable and exactly what I would expect, under the circumstances. My bacon was a little crispier that I normally prefer, but on this occasion I was happy with it. For breakfast fuel, The Nook more than fit the bill.

After the roof job was done (a week or two after, actually), we returned for some lunch. Now, The Nook is pretty much a breakfast-and-lunch place -- they are open late on Fridays for fish -- and, despite mastering a bit of French culinary art, the menu isn't exactly what might be considered "continental."

That is, it isn't all that extensive. They've got the basics covered, with maybe a few side excursions into uncharted territory here and there. As long as you're OK with the typical selection of hot and cold sandwiches, salads, burgers, wraps, clubs and the like, you'll be fine.

Heck, they offer Reubens and beef on weck. That alone is enough to keep me happy for multiple visits.

But if you're looking for anything more French than fries, look elsewhere.

My wife got a little adventurous and selected the Buffalo chicken wrap ($6.33), served with what appeared to be homemade potato chips, and a dill pickle spear. I stayed true to the program (my program) and went with the Reuben ($5.53).

What can I say, I like to compare Reubens. I should contact the Guinness people soon and see whether I'm approaching the world's record for the number of Reubens consumed from different restaurants.

My plate came with the chips and pickles, as well, and I was quite pleased with the quality of the chips. Of course, you can't put chips and pickles on the same plate without combining them to enjoy dill pickle chips. I can't, anyway. My wife seemed to do just fine.

The chips were on the thick side, a little dark, like a Russet, and were plenty tasty. They were even better in tandem with the crispy spears.

Both sandwiches were excellent, although the Buffalo wrap was a little spicier than she had anticipated. It wasn't made with the usual breaded "fingers," but rather with chunks of chicken meat that appeared to have been sauteed in a hot sauce. It made for a nice variation on the usual. I might say we liked it a little better than most.

My Reuben was solid, with lots of corned beef, goodly helpings of cheese and kraut and a tasty dressing. I'd order it again. Not the best I've ever had, but far from the worst.

If you're heading out to the country, be it for a Sunday ride, a trip to the lake or just to take in the changing leaves, The Nook would make a nice side stop. It's just off the beaten path, and the pace is slow and steady.

The lighthouse decor theme works well with the nearby harbor and lakefront, and the wildlife wallpaper in the restroom seemed like a good fit, as well.

Dinners include meat loaf, shrimp and clams, and breakfast offerings run the gamut from scrambles to breakfast sandwiches. Like I said, with the prices they charge, you're going to walk away satisfied, if not stuffed.

And if you happen to see a silver-haired guy in the corner, stop by and ask him if the price is right.


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