Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Way We Eat: Ma and Diana H. take on Little Next Door and Nook, again

Los Angeles Foodie Cupid Tony C. of Sino Soul once wrote the following comment on a post I wrote about Nook Bistro in Santa Monica, “I hardly ever order the same thing even at the same restaurant. God forbid anyone orders the same thing during the same meal!”

I chuckled when I read it, but secretly thought, “God forbid he ever go to dinner with my mom and me.”

Not only do we tend toward ordering the same thing over and over again at our same tried and true restaurants, but we also almost always order the same dish as the other. It’s not just an issue of having similar tastes (though we do aside from her inexplicable aversion to raw fish, goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes), but because we are both terrified of concocting a case of plate envy. On the occasions when we have opted for different entrees, one of us (usually me) inevitably wants what “she’s having.” Insert unhappy face here. And a couple “wah wahs” a la Debbie Downer on “SNL.”

This past Friday, the company that (barely) funds my foodie lifestyle gifted me with a day off, and my dear mom braved the 405 freeway to come spend the day with me in La La land. I tried my best to come up with a new restaurant for us to try, and even mined the Twitterverse for suggestions for places with yummy salads (thanks to all who responded), but we ultimately decided to go back to our favorite place to lunch in WeHo, the Little Next Door.

My mom was all set to go with the croque monsieur, a sandwich we have both enjoyed on previous visits, but as soon as I announced that I was having the Little Next Deal with the ½ roast beef sandwich, bowl of soup, deli salad, and macaron, her lip started to quiver in anxiety. She immediately changed course and decided to go for the $15 lunch deal as well. In typical fashion, we then proceeded to get the same sandwich (roast beef) and same soup (the peach gazpacho), as well. The only discrepancy on our plates were the salads – the artichoke, green bean and feta salad for her, and the quinoa with currants and pinenuts for me.

The lunch was lovely as usual, but it did take me a few moments to come around to the peach gazpacho that was more gazpacho-y and less peachy than I anticipated. I was all set to screw up my nose in displeasure, but as I kept eating it, the cold soup began to grow on me. It helped that my mom kept hyping it up with affirmative noises from her end of the table (just like laughter, positive reactions to food seem to be contagious). Also, once the basil ice cube began to seep in, the soup began to develop a more complex flavor that elevated it from my original reaction that it tasted like salsa.

After our successful lunch at Little Next Door, we gave our stomachs a breather at Anthropologie at the Grove and then at the Arclight to see Time Traveler’s Wife. The break revved up our appetites just in time for dinner at another of my tried and true restos, Nook Bistro in Santa Monica.

The evening proceeded in much the same way that lunch did. We ordered the same glass of wine – the Margerum Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Ynez, and the same entrée – the shrimp and grits that I have already enjoyed once before. Our only gamble of the evening was the fried calamari that we split for an appetizer. But then again when is fried anything a gamble?

The big bowl of fatty fried rings and tentacles was addicting with its citrus-soy vinaigrette and wasabi dipping sauce. We made our way through all the tender rings, leaving only the tentacles behind (Ma and Diana H. don’t do tentacles).

We finished things up with the only dessert I’ve ever had at Nook – the chocolate banana bread pudding. It was just as good as it has been on my previous visits – a warm blanket for the tongue. Insert very happy faces here.

By the measure of my good friend Tony C., our day was a foodie fail. We went to the same old restaurants, ordered the same exact things, and, aside from the peach gazpacho and calamari, made no attempt to try anything new. Yet, I have no regrets. It was the perfect day, and the familiar food, just like that chocolate banana bread pudding, was a comfort to our souls. There was no need for any “wah wahs,” or plate envy. I am left with only fond memories of a wonderful day spent with my dear “significant mother.”


Jenn said...

I like to go to the same places to. It's just out of habit, plus I know that what I'll get is will be good.

Now, I want some of the choco banana bread pudding.

weezermonkey said...

I heart you for "wah wah." I do this often.

But I do not eat the same thing often!

If you like "wah wah," you will love this!

The Blonde Duck said...

I always get the same thing too!

Gastronomer said...

Like it says on the box of every Hungry Man frozen dinner: "I know what I like and I like a lot of it." Ain't no shame in being boring, Diana ;-) Own it!

Esi said...

I like to go to the same places, but I try and order different things (except for Chaya *wink*). It sounds like a good day with your mom, but maybe next time dare to try something new? Peach tomato gazpacho sounds like a good idea in theory.

Pearl said...

oh Diana - my boyfriend and i fell in love with the little next door. SO adorable.

i have the same issue! i either really end up liking what he gets and make a note to get it next time, or with drinks, he orders one drink and i order another, and then we end up switching before we like eachother's more. haha!

Pearl said...

and p.s. i always get the same thing at restaurants, too! hey, when i find something i like, i stick with it!

Anisha said...

I've been wanting to try Little Next Door ever since I saw it in an episode of Entourage!

Anna A. said...

OMG your blog made my day! So funny! Your significant mom could be on your sitcom too. So funny because my mom and I always get the most opposite things.

Ashley said...

the peach gazpacho is soooooo good!

Diana said...

Jenn - The bread pudding is amazing! If you are ever on the Westside, you should definitely check Nook out.

Sharon - Haha thanks for the link - hilarious! :)

Miranda - This is why I love you!

Cathy - You are awesome. I love that you quoted a Hungry Man frozen dinner!

Esi - I did try the peach gazpacho! That was very new! I don't even normally like cold soups! But yeah, I need to work on breaking out of my resto rut boxes. :-/

Pearl - I'm so glad you liked the Little Next Door! I think I need to find me one of those boyfriend things so I can just steal what he orders if I like it better. That would be ideal! :)

Anisha - We should meet there for lunch some day!

Anna - My mom is totally a sitcom character! She's the cutest.

Ashley - We ordered the gazpacho because of you!

mattatouille said...

I love eating the same dishes at the same restaurants, especially a neighborhood place. There's something great about familiarity and comfort that a new spot just can't beat. Sometimes we can get too schizophrenic with our palates and appetites. Our favorite places won't stay in business unless we frequent them.

Nicole said...

oh my dear goodness this review made me JEALOUS!!!!! two of my favorite LA spots!! YUM!

Cinnamon Girl aka Reeni♥ said...

Aww, that's so sweet! While my Mom and I do have our favorite places with our tried and true faves they are different from each other. My Mom isn't as an adventurous eater as I. What a lovely Mother/Daughter day!

Anjali said...

I often fall in love with a dish and order it every time, especially at places in my neighborhood. I figure, what are the chances true love will strike twice in one restaurant?

Erin said...

Diana, I LURVE tentacles, hate the rings. Take me with you next time and I can help you finish the fried bowl of goodness :)