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Cozy Nook
** 1/2
Out of a possible five
$

It’s love at first bite at breakfast-lunch nook

My hopes and dreams were crushed as I finished my meal at the Cozy Nook on Dupont Road near Interstate 69.

The menu said to “ask about our fresh-baked pies,” and, of course, I did. But my server scoffed and said there was no pie, there never is pie and there hasn’t been pie “for years.”

I was a little surprised, given that this restaurant, tucked in next to Trolley Steaks and Seafood, was owned by the same folks who own Rich’s Café in Waynedale and the Harlan Café, both of which always have pie. But even that disappointment didn’t dampen my opinion of this breakfast-and-lunch spot too badly.

The Cozy Nook isn’t really cozy, but it serves solid fare and the service was stellar. The strip mall space has rather boring white and brown walls divided with kitschy wallpaper border, standard banquet chairs and tables and just a smattering of nondescript decorations.

But from my first bite of the sausage gravy covering my Half & Half breakfast, I knew the most beautiful parts of this eatery would be on the plate. The gravy covered a dense, starchy biscuit on one side and perfectly fried potatoes on the other. It was creamy and smooth with big chunks of sausage here and there and tiny bits throughout, and the flavor of that sausage had permeated every drop. With a couple of over-easy eggs – which also got a little gravy mixed in with its runny yolk – and a hot cup of stout coffee, it was a filling and satisfying day starter.

A featured breakfast entrée had me skeptical, but also satisfied. The Italian omelet was like something I would make from leftovers late at night without a care as to whether it actually worked. The three-egg omelet was filled with chunks of salty country ham – which had been grilled a little before being added – slices of pepperoni, diced tomatoes and a generous amount of mozzarella cheese. The eggs also had a little Italian seasoning in them, which added zip and really worked well with the sweet, ripe tomatoes.

What made this omelet, and the good ’ol ham and cheese omelet I tried so good was how evenly the ingredients were distributed and how consistently fluffy the eggs were. It may seem like a given, but I have had enough overcooked omelets with ingredients just thrown loosely in the fold to make me appreciate ones made so well.

For lunch, I would recommend soup as both of the ones I had won favor. The featured French onion soup surprised as I was not expecting much from the Cozy Nook, given it wasn’t a steakhouse. But it had plenty of cheese, nicely caramelized onions, zesty garlic croutons and a nicely seasoned broth. Chili is the only option on the weekends. It was pretty basic with mostly just beans and beef, but it was thick, had smooth texture and just the right bit of heat.

I also enjoyed the Chicken Philly Wrap, which had strips tender chicken, melted Swiss cheese and still snappy peppers and onions inside a nicely warmed and soft tortilla. It also had just the right amount of horseradish sauce and was simply a solid lunch option.

My side of Colossal Crisp Fries was rather boring, however. The same crispy, double-fried potatoes that come on the side of any dish were just covered with a little shredded cheddar. There was nothing colossal about them. I found the creamy and slightly sweet house coleslaw that came with my fish sandwich to be a much better option. And that fish was also a good choice – flaky, moist and slightly sweet Pollock in a crisp, light, crumbly breading.

The biggest disappointment during my visits to the Cozy Nook was the Frisco Burger. The menu has seven varieties of burgers, all boasted to be made from half-pound patties. The toasted sourdough bread was fine, the combination of American and Swiss worked well and there was not too much of the “special sauce,” but the burger was just bad. It was a preformed, perfectly round patty with little flavor that made me suspect it came from a freezer bag.

But, overall, the Cozy Nook proved to be a decent option. The breakfasts were the stars and the friendly faces working there went out of their way when it came to service.

During my last visit, as I stood over my table wearing my coat and sipping the last drops of coffee before leaving, my server rushed over to see whether I wanted a gratis cup of brew in a to-go cup. It was an unexpected bonus and I was surprised she was so generous.

But, then again, maybe she was just feeling guilty about not having pie.

Restaurant: Cozy Nook

Address: 2896 E. Dupont Road

Phone: 416-0008

Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: None

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Half & Half ($3.99), Italian omelet ($6.99 with toast and coffee), Frisco Burger ($5.49), fish sandwich ($3.99), Chicken Philly Wrap ($6.49)

Rating breakdown: Food: * (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: * (1 maximum)

Note: Restaurants are categorized by price range: $ (less than $20 for three-course meal), $$ ($20-$29); $$$ ($30-$39), $$$$ ($40-$49), $$$$$ ($50 and up).

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.

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