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“Fine dining at it's best”
Review of Nicholas

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Ranked #3 of 142 Restaurants in Red Bank
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$40 - US$60
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Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Romantic, Special Occasion Dining
Dining options: Dinner, After-hours, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Bt. Navesink River Rd & Pine Street
Transit: Red Bank train station
Reviewed 18 May 2014

After another amazing, magnificent experience at Nicholas, I realized that I had never written a review! We have been going to Nicholas since they opened in 2000 and have watched Nicholas and Melissa continually improve and redefine the modern, fine dining experience. They expertly raise the bar through their changing menus, decor, and service.
The food is top notch, hence the smaller portions. Nicholas has an interesting philosophy on portions-less is more.
The wine selection is another category onto itself. Their expertise and passion shines here. It is a pleasure to listen as Nicholas speaks about his personally selected vineyards, their history, terroir, and all the nuances of a particular wine.
I won't go into all the meals we have had over the years but suffice to say that they were all excellent.
Nicholas is serious about food, service, wine and ambiance. It is a place to savor a wonderful meal at a leisurely pace. It is not for the faint of $$ but rather for those who want the complete package and know what that entails.
At Nicholas, every detail of a fine dining experience is present.

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1  Thank Idania60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (257)
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136 - 140 of 257 reviews

Reviewed 16 May 2014 via mobile

We went here for a birthday dinner on a Friday night.
Jeans were acceptable but we felt underdressed. Next time we'll wear sports coats.
Like other reviewers stated the service is impeccable.
Excellent selection with the wine, drinks, and items from the three-course menu.
We had quail, scallops, halibut, and swordfish. All items were very delicious. The breads that were offered were very tasty too.
To finish, the dessert and coffee selection was very good.
Definitely a great place for special occasions.

Thank Mike G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 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.

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1  Thank Californiac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2014

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

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Thank Diane Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 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.

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3  Thank Milobite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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