Transplanted New Yorkers always complain that there's no place to eat late at night around here. All the restaurants close by midnight, they say, just when things would be heating up in the Big Apple.
Well, they're wrong. The next time somebody complains about the South Bay's late-night restaurant scene in the wee hours of a Saturday, take them to the Nutwood Cafe in Inglewood, which is open until 4 in the morning on weekends.
The Nutwood is the new occupant of an old Boulevard Cafe located on the ground floor of a medical building. Patricia Estis took it over just seven weeks ago, and hired Rod Morris, a friendly Bostonian who was tired of his job in the legal profession, as manager. Estis has retained the original Boulevard Cafe chefs, Thomas Lambert and Jimmy Whitaker, who have been cooking at the site for 11 years.
From the coffee shop atmosphere you might not expect the pronounced Southern influence here. At breakfast, one of the big sellers is the Southern 1 ($4.95), three fried chicken wings with two eggs and a choice of grits, rice, hash browns, or biscuits and gravy. Eggs are also teamed up with catfish ($6.50), hot links ($5), pork chops ($6) or a salmon patty ($6.50).
The crunchy, peppery fried chicken dinner ($7.25), consisting of three pieces of your choice, comes with rice, two vegetables and corn muffins. Tender beef short ribs ($8.95) are another highlight. Perhaps the restaurant's most popular dinner entree, available as a special on Sunday and Monday, is baked game hen ($7.95) with a stuffing made of corn bread, chicken broth, bell peppers, onions, celery, garlic, sage and thyme.
For $4.95, the Nutwood offers a changing daily lunch special such as oxtails (Wednesday), smothered chicken (Thursday) or barbecued ribs (Friday). The specials give you a choice of two side dishes like black-eyed peas, corn, yams, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese.
The Nutwood Cafe is at 504 E. Nutwood Street, Inglewood. (310) 674-9684. Open seven days, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday nights also 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.