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PostHeaderIcon Enjoy Small Plates At Nibblers

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If you like to read, Nibblers Eatery & Wine Bar is for you.  If you don't, just squint your way through the 50-plus dish menu.  It's definitely worth it.

This 5 year old Pleasant Hill eatery is centered on small plates, which means that the meal you may get at a sushi or Thai place in the same leafy shopping area may be one to three plates at Nibblers.

But, that's also where the fun comes in.

Go with friends.  Everybody orders something different, and you have a smorgasbord of small delights to get easily stuffed on.  It also helps that the staff is upfront about how to make your visit enjoyable and educational.

Oh no, there's reading and education again.  And you just want to eat?

If you don't know your cardoon. a stalky, asparagus like vegetable, served deep fried with aioli sauce ($6) from your langoustine, a type of lobster served in a ceviche with avocado and house made tortilla chips ($8), the staff of Nibblers will tell you.

The eatery doesn't want to be pretentious with big words.  It just prides itself on the relationships it has with farms and food artisans within driving distance of the East Bay that sell vegetables, poultry and cheese unavailable in your local grocery store.

The menu changes weekly, depending on what's available from these places.

On a recent visit, I started with the Spring Corn Flatbread with baby favas, sheep's milk feta an green garlic in the shape of a light pizza ($11) and that whet my appetite for the next plates.

The Maple Leaf Duck a L'orange ($12) was next, siting atop skinny roasted baby parsnips that had a sweet, almost marshmallowy taste to them.  When I told Trace Leighton, chef patissier and our server, that I had never seen parsnips so skinny before, she said she had the pleasure of bundling them in the bushels full at Heirloom Organic Gardens in Santa Cruz herself.

Another dish that I'd wish was endless was the Panko Fried Monterey Bay Calamari in a buttermilk shallot marinade and Indonesian tropical fruit sambal ($8).  A sambal is a dipping sauce made with boiled down seasonal fruit mixed with three different types of chiles.  It was thick, sweet and savory and gave the calamari a kick.  "We thought it was better than tartar sauce," said Leighton.

When the Four Mile River Pork Slider with chipotle barbaque sauce and house made pickles ($10) were sold out, we ordered the Grilled Meyer Natural Hangar Steak ($11), a tougher cut of meat.  But the mustard sauce tenderized it and made the meat succulent to sink our teeth into.

Nibblers also prides itself on wines, of which  there is an exhausting selection.

Once again, not to fear.

Nibblers makes things easy by suggesting food and wine pairings.  The couple next to us ordered Muscat, a type of sweet wine.  Upon getting their food order, Chef de Cuisine Daniel Clayton later sent Leighton out to see if they wanted their salad dressing made with a Muscat to complement their wine selection.  Now that's paying attention.

Desserts include their signature Cheesecake Fritters ($8), a lovely puffy fried dough with a cinnamon mouse oozing out.  There's also a selection of chocolates and sorbets ($8 to $12) to sample.

The outside patio is dog friendly, every Sunday there's music and if you arrive before 6 pm weekdays, and just want a place to take the edge off before heading home to that big meal, take advantage of Nibblers Sunset Special bar menu.

For late night eaters, Nibblers has a special summer menu from 9:30 to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

For more info visit: www.nibblerseatery.com

(925) 944 0402, 1922 Oak Park Blvd. Pleasant Hill, CA in the Oak Park Center.

Nibblers Eatery & Wine Bar is open every day of the week for dinner 5 to 9:30 pm.

Leslie Mladinich is an East Bay freelance journalist. With a 5-year daily newspaper reporting background and a love of writing about everything from health care to fashion, her freelance writing has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle's Pink Section, Diablo, Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine, EcoHome Magazine, and Bay Area Parent. She is combining her love of food and writing by completing Media Bistro's Food Writing Boot Camp, which is teaching her the art of writing about food with attitude. Find her clips soon at www.lesliemladinich.com.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 March 2011 02:40)


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