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“Well, we had a good time”
Review of Nicholas

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Ranked #3 of 140 Restaurants in Red Bank
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $40 - $60
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Business meetings, Special occasions
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Bt. Navesink River Rd & Pine Street
Transit: Red Bank train station
New Canaan, Connecticut
Level Contributor
168 reviews
130 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
“Well, we had a good time”
Reviewed April 19, 2014

Nicholas is not a regular haunt. We have heard about it and wanted to give it a try. We did an early booking on a weekday night. The service was attentive and capable. All the dishes served were very good as were the drinks. For a very special evening out where money is no object this is a pleasant place to go.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Californiac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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250 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Red Bank, New Jersey
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“At least once in your life......”
Reviewed April 15, 2014

you have to experience Nicholas. The food preparation and parings are without equal.
The wine is superb and the service exemplary

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Diane Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Quality of Food Has Declined”
Reviewed March 19, 2014

Until a few days ago, my last visit to Nicholas was three years ago. I always ate at the bar, where you could order small plates from the regular menu, allowing you to try dishes without committing to the full scale menu. Service was better at the bar as well, more personable. Since then, the dining room took on a new, more modern look so I decided to give it a shot. We even went early, hopeful we could enjoy a bottle of champagne and wine, and take our time with the food.

Doing the tasting menu at $135, with wine got us excited, particularly because the menu was adventurous, without being risky.

Amuse Bouche was intended to be a foam, but was a mousse. A general theme for the night, where's the seasoning?

First course, beets, was all about the acid- with no balance. My husband had the oysters, too pickled to taste much else. As with every course of the night, we sent our plates back with food on them.

The second course, scallops, was actually very good, but so off kilter from the rest of the menu, it just didn't work. Spicy? Green hued mushy rice, it certainly fit a St. Patrick's Day theme. I think there was a Pringle potato chip on top. The flavor profile was good though, if not totally out of place. The bisque, referred by the staff as a "consomme" (did anyone go to cooking school here, or at least basic training?) was all about the heavy cream and lacked any flavor, until you bite into the bacon which, frankly, stole the show. It was one lonesome bite.

Biggest disappointment, the two fish courses. Cod and Skate. The skate, which should have been a filet (classic French style) was served as lobster chunks (thermidor style). It was over cooked and placed in a puddle of separating sauce so poorly seasoned it gave the skate a bitter taste. Brown butter, not burnt butter. Way too much brine from the capers, and not enough lemon. What a missed opportunity!

The cod was undercooked, clear at center, and sitting in yet another deconstructed butter based sauce. The chef has clearly handed the reigns over, and the kitchen lacks technique!

We skipped dessert, left the "bread" behind (an idea totally stolen from Fromagerie where they leave you with cookies to take home). Total dining time, one hour and twenty minutes (they slowed the pace towards the end as other table filled up). Plenty of time for them to turn the table over two more times. That would never happen at Charlie Palmer's or any Thomas Keller's establishment(s).

The wine, paired with each dish, was unimpressive, as was the wine and champagne list overall. We were ready to go big-- there was just no reason to. Worse, the mark-up was easily over 100%.

Five year's ago, this was the place to eat in NJ. You had to look past the atmosphere, and side of the road locale, and focus on the food, but it was good. But time, and perhaps a lack of inspiration and passion has delivered Nicholas to the land of other NJ restaurant wanna-be's.

Décor was frighteningly similar to the old Le Cirque in the NY Palace hotel, but acoustics so bad, we could hear every other table complaining about lackluster food too. No fresh flowers on the table, but a sprig of something that looked like the same plant specimen as what sat atop the beets. Just not good.

Here's the bottom line. If you aren't a clock watcher, the staff is. It's clear from the start, the goal is to move tables along, and secure a definitive revenue stream from each table, per night. Ready or not, its coming, so eat and drink like a herd of Jersey cattle are coming to take your seat. They make it easy with very, very small bite size portions-- which if the flavors are explosive-- is not a problem, but its not the case here. Something is missing in the kitchen, perhaps its own "tasting" before dishes are leaving the kitchen? It wants to be your local Per Se, of NYC fame, but its more like a prixe fix cruise ship menu. Note to the kitchen- Thomas Keller would never present what appeared to be day old sliced bread to select from. Tacky. Rolls are just as easy.

Had the food been exceptional, which it should have been, the formulaic approach to fine dining would have been ignored.

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
3 Thank Milobite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
colts neck, nj
Level Contributor
39 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Been to Nicholas 200 times”
Reviewed March 15, 2014 via mobile

The ultimate failure of a restaurant isn't mediocre food ( the food here has been excellent) it's in the customer service experience and here restaurant Restaurant Nicholas FAILS everytime.

We have been to Nicholas over 200
Times and the food has been exceptional 194 of those times! A tremendous accomplishment but for regular customers to have a bad meal and the offending entrees not be immediately removed from the check is terrible. We have tipped an average of 22% everytime , take care of your regulars!
Common among others when talking about restaurant Nichols is their refusal to return to Nicholas for the same reason.

The story gets worse, for my wife's birthday party, last year I wanted to book the chefs table downstairs. I was flexible on dates and times. And understanding that young children were not welcome upstairs.

I was politely told that the the charge for wife myself and my two young children ( 5 and 7) would be 150 EACH. When I questioned why my children who were getting chicken fingers were getting charged $150 they responded with ( "we will make it nice for them") . Really??? You will charge a 5 year old and 7 year old $150 each ???

I reminded them that we were regulars, apparently the restaurant is so successful and the owners so rich that they don't care about doing the right thing.

No point in going to a restaurant where they treat you like a stranger.

Two years ago my wife wanted to go for her birthday, we wrongfully expected to be welcomed with warmth and compassion after all we had celebrated the 40th birthday by taking half the restaurant a few years back.
WRONG WE ARE ONLY GOOD FOR A CREDIT CARD TRANSACTION. I don't think they even know our name!!

My friends think I am foolish to have promoted this restaurant as much as i have.

Clearly we have been
The suckers

Go if your never plan on returning, the food is that good. But you will never be comfortable or feel welcomed.

6 Thank coltsneckfoodie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
16 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Worth Every Penny”
Reviewed March 10, 2014

We have eaten at Nicholas several times, though not recently. I think that a visit is overdue.

The first time we went there was an experience in more ways than one. They serve their plated dishes with a huge cover. My son's expression, the first time around, was something to see when the cover was removed at each course. Let me explain..he is a big eater and a big cover signifies a big meal to him. Anyway, the quantity of food served is tiny and the huge cover cover does a lot to your expectations. We must have laughed throughout the meal and I'm sure that the servers and the Maitre'D had a lot of fun too though unobtrusively.

Despite the the small quantity, the courses add up a lot in volume and calories and you are not left wanting.

This place overwhelms with you with quality - great service, great food and great ambience.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank sahdin09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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