(UPDATED 6/30/2023) Description and review of The Nook Wine Bar & Bistro, located in the McKinley Park neighborhood of Sacramento. NEW: See “Updates” below.
The Nook Wine Bar & Bistro opened on May 3, in the location that previously housed Celestin’s Restaurant. The newly opened wine bar is located in the small strip mall at McKinley Blvd. and 36th Street. Other businesses at that location include Healthy Hounds Kitchen and the East Village Bookshop.
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Chef Joe Holmberg
The Chef/Owner of The Nook is Joe Holmberg. Holmberg graduated from the California Culinary Institute, and he says that over the last 20 years he has worked “everywhere”, mentioning stints in Austin and San Francisco, among others.
He attributes his love of good food and cooking to his mother, who he called an “amazing chef.”
Chef Holmberg’s vision for The Nook includes being “a bit different”. He wants to introduce patrons to great wines that are new to them, ones they are likely not to have tasted previously. In addition to Spanish wines, the Chef is partial to wines from the Northern California Central Coast.
As the owner of a newly opened business, Chef Holmberg is working long hours six days a week. For now, at least, he is doing it all – planning the menu, cooking, handling the bookkeeping, ordering supplies, etc.
The interior of the small bistro is decorated with pops of color, art and plants. You will without doubt notice the intriguing, colorful artwork on the walls. The artist has been a good friend of Chef Holmberg since they were in 5th grade.
The plants in the bistro are ones that Chef Holmberg has brought from home. Plants are another passion of his. He mentioned that he has 150+ plants at home and that it takes an hour to water them all!
The Nook offers a variety of small plates that pair well with the wines served. On the menu currently are a variety of shareable plates. The small plates range from $8 for Patatas Bravas to $15 for Cured Salmon.
One can also order “Tins” including Matiz Smoked Sardines, Tiny Fish Company Smoked Mussels and Nuri Spicy Mackerel. Tins range in price from $6 to $14.
Also of note, The Nook serves local Passmore Sturgeon and Trout Caviar (chips, Crème Fraiche, chives). The 10-gram servings range from $35 to $70.
By-the-glass prices at The Nook range from $14 to $18. One can also order a ½ pour for half price. Bottles range in price from $56 to $100.
Also offered are a limited number of craft beers ($7-$8), as well as several Mommenpop vermouth aperitifs ($14). Non-alcohol offerings include Mexican Coke ($6) and French Press Coffee ($7).
A friend and I stopped by The Nook on a recent Friday for a glass of wine and a bite to eat prior to heading Downtown to catch a movie.
We arrived around 4:45 p.m., and there was already a good-sized crowd inside and out. The addition of the small outside patio area in the parking lot, added by Celestines during COVID, adds much needed space.
After picking up menus inside, we made our way to the outside patio area and secured the lone table for two. The remainder of the seating is standard size picnic tables & benches.
After looking over the menu we had a number of questions about both the wines and the small plates. Our helpful server was knowledgeable about both.
My friend ordered a Ryme “Hers” Vermentino ($18), a California white. My choice was the Vins El Cep Macabeo from Spanish Catalonia ($14). Both of us were very pleased with our choices. The weather has just recently started to heat up, and the wine was refreshing.
We ordered two small plates to share – the Heirloom Bean Hummus ($10) and the Carrot Three Ways ($10). Both were tasty and something I would order again.
We noticed the Cheese Plate ($14) being served to a table next to ours, and agreed that was something to try another time.
Chef Holmberg stopped by our table to chat for a minute at one point. He mentioned that while the menu will change with the seasons, the Carrot Three Ways, a favorite of his, would be a constant on the menu.
He also assured us that the patio area, enclosed by cloth curtains on two sides and open on the ends, would soon have a covering of some type overhead to keep the sun from beating down on patrons. That was good news, as there was no shade where we were seated, and no other open table just then to move to.
To Sum Up
To sum up, I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to The Nook. Our pleasant and helpful server took the initiative to offer to try to steady the wobbly table, and brought us additional bread for our hummus when she noticed we had run out.
One glitch we experienced was when paying our bill. We had split the bill, and when looking over our respective paperwork prior to signing noticed that what had been split was not our bill. I went inside, explained the situation, and it was soon set right.
Some neighbors have commented that The Nook is a bit pricey, and I can’t disagree. However, it is a big plus in my book to be able to walk a short distance to enjoy the wines and bites that The Nook has to offer.
(6/30/2023) The Nook has expanded their hours in order to add coffee-café service. The new hours and other changes are reflected below in Snapshot.
Morning-early afternoon offerings include assorted coffee’s and teas as well as hot chocolate. Other items on the small menu include “toasts” (cured salmon, avocado, etc.) and “bites” (biscuits & gravy, veggie frittata, etc.).
Changes to The Nook website include the addition of menu’s with pricing.
See related blog post: Al Fresco Dining in Sacramento
Comments on The Nook Wine Bar & Bistro?
What has been your experience at The Nook?
The Nook Wine Bar & Bistro Snapshot (updated 6/30/2023) :
- 3610 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95816
- (916) 228-4065
- Days/Hours: Closed Sunday & Monday; Tuesday – Thursday (8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m./3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.); Friday & Saturday (8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m./3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.)
- Vegetarian & Vegan friendly
- Limited parking in shared lot & street parking
- Outdoor patio
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