Sherman's Food Adventures: Nick's Spaghetti House

Nick's Spaghetti House

With our softball season officially over, naturally, the only way to mourn the loss of eating out every Monday night was to... eat! With 16 people in all and a few kiddies, options were limited. Compounding the problem was location since it had to be central to everyone. Nick's Spaghetti House popped into my mind and everyone seemed receptive to the idea. However, in the end, I'm not sure if it was the best choice... But more on that later. Miss Y indicated that she would drive to my place and hitch a ride off me. Naturally, she arrived late and dressed like she was just about to sashay down a catwalk. She was definitely over (under?) dressed for Nick's!

Unfortunately, Nick's does not take reservations, so we had to wait for a table. Ranger and Ketchup had arrived first and the server was a bit shocked at the request for a table of 16. Luckily we didn't have to wait long. Honestly, I've never eaten at Nick's because the outside looks rather run down. Well, the inside is not much better. It looks like they kept everything from when it first opened 52 years ago. It definitely reminds me of restaurants during my childhood in the 80's. However, one look at the menu and the prices are definitely nothing like the 80's; in fact, they seemed rather high. Nothing appeared to be under $15.00. Alright, I'll play along here, maybe the portions are large? Yes, the portions are quite good, I can't deny that. But what about taste and presentation? Now this is where it gets downright controversial. I ordered the Combination Dish, which included Ravioli, Spaghetti, Meatball, Mushrooms and Spareribs. Sounds like a lot of food right? Yes, it's a good amount of food; but was it worth $20.00? Okay, you look at the picture and what do you think? For me, just by looking at it, I would say it's not worth $20.00. Wait a minute you say. What about the flavour? Sometimes really good food is worth any amount of money because it's a taste experience to last a lifetime! To me, the taste was definitely associated with my lifetime; but way back in the 70's! Yes, that's how pasta was served and tasted like when my age was in single digits. The pasta was overcooked and the sauce was something that reminded me of summer camp. To be fair, it wasn't terrible, but the sauce lacked any complex flavours, being one-dimensional (quite tart). However, I did like the meatball, it was large and moist. The spareribs were tender; yet the sauce destroyed any other distinguishing taste. I must mention that some people like this style because it's not oily.

Viv and Miss Y both had the Gnocchi with Meatballs. Again, Viv thought the meatballs were quite tasty; but the gnocchi was quite dense and doughy. Furthermore, the very same sauce did not improve the dish. It didn't end there, every dish that arrived came with the same red sauce. Judes had the 1/2 rack of BBQ Ribs with Ravioli. The ribs looked decent and as for the ravioli, the ones I had were bland and again, the sauce killed it. Milhouse opted for the Veal Cutlet with Ravioli. The large veal cutlets looked to be fried up nicely glistening with oil. For the ravioli, I'm sure you get my drift already so I'm not going to comment on it any further. Mr. Blueberry went for the mother of all dishes and had the Large T-Bone Steak with Ravioli. Man, we're not really original eaters are we??? The steak sure looked impressive; however was quite tough. Gadget Girl and Ketchup both had the Spaghetti and Meatballs. They seemed to enjoy it, so it really depends on personal preference. But again it was the same sauce and the same meatballs. Boss Woman did have something a bit different - Italian Sausage. But nevermind this time or any other time, I didn't get to try it because Boss Woman won't let me have any.

Alright, by now, you must be thinking that I totally hated and despised Nick's. Hate is a really strong word and there are not many restaurants that I truly despise other than Po King and Floata. With that being said, I think the biggest problem I have with Nick's is not even necessarily the food. After all, the meats were all pretty decent (except for the steak) and we never got a chance to try any other sauces. Nick's is really ol' school and unrefined; but really, my biggest problem were the prices. It's not cheap to eat at Nick's despite the decent portions. I only say decent, because Ranger and I dusted off the biggest plate they had in the Combination Dish. I was full, but not bursting at the seams. For $19.25, either the food has to knock my socks off or it has to stuff me til I want to puke. It did neither. Remember when I said Nick's causes controversy? Well, they have been in business for over 50 years, so they must be doing something right. There are some people who swear by Nick's and there are those who absolutely hate it. For me, I couldn't erase the comparisons I was making with Boston Pizza. Yes, I couldn't believe it too; but I began to have thoughts that the pasta sauce tasted like the ones at Boston Pizza! I'm sure some people will now leave nasty comments saying I don't know anything and I'm a idiot. But I'm merely sharing my honest opinion. Nick's serves very loyal customers food that they obviously like and hold dear to their hearts; however, I'm just not one of them.

The Good:
- Portions are pretty good
- Meats appear to be decent
- It's got character and nostalgic qualities

The Bad:
- What's with those prices???
- Everything tastes the same (referring to the red sauce)
- I don't get it (someone please enlighten me)

Nick's Spaghetti House on Urbanspoon


KimHo said...

For some reason, it sounds like they prepare a big pot of tomato sauce and use the same sauce for everything!

Now, as for the price, as you mention, if it is well-made, it might be worth it. But, when you hesitate or have second thoughts... Suddenly, you make it sound like Anton's is a really good deal!

holly said...

Nick's huh? Well, I can only think of comparing it to how people view chinese canadian food before they discovered what chinese food was all about. It's about the same experience for me. This is where everyone went before there were more options of really good Italian restaurants.

I think the food used to taste decent, oh about 20 years ago, but it (not that it was that spectacular to begin with) has gone downhill and they've increased their prices solely on their reputation alone. Kind of what happened to Il Gelato down the street.

I wouldn't go there unless someone else paid, or if I was tripping on something.

koji said...

actually, you make Nick's sound like the way i feel about Anton's (not a fan).

Sherman Chan said...

Kim, nothing can make Anton's look like a good deal (to me at least).

Holly, just like you, I'd need to be high on something to dine there again.

koji, I can't stand eating at Anton's either, I'm with you there.

sanfran said...

I think you guys are in the minority 54 years says somthing .And if you didnt know what to expect then i guess you might have a beef but after54 years why should they change .Ill definatly be returning for the red sause otherwise known as gravy in italian culture.

Sherman Chan said...

@sanfran That's why I mentioned that "I" don't get it. Food is subjective. Now, given that some chain restaurants (such as the Pantry, Ricky's and Boston Pizza) served some of the ickiest food out there and they continue to survive parallels your example. So just by being in business doesn't necessarily indicate good eats for everyone. Of course, since they have been in business so long, I'm sure they have their loyal customers. Kudos to them. I just didn't like it, especially at those prices.

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