San Leandro Reviews
Summary: Disappointing and overpriced classic coffee-shop food
Nick's is yet another restaurant that has been on our list of places to try forever but that, for one reason or another (they used to take only cash and closed rather early), we'd never managed to visit. Now it's open 24 hours every day but Sunday when it closes at 8 PM - and they're advertising heavily in the San Leandro Times, so we decided to head over there last Friday night (April 2005), when we couldn't figure out what else to do for dinner.
Nick's is an old-style coffee-shop that has little pretentiousness beyond its prices. Sandwiches and burgers hover in the $6-8 realm, while its entrees average $11, but reach $16. Its menu features classic coffee-shop fare such as chicken fried steak, chicken parmigiana, pork chops and roast turkey. The place looks and feels like a coffee-shop, with vinyl booths along the walls, and cheap brown Formica tables and metal chairs in the middle. Our waitress, with stereotypical grandma looks and a weird sense of humor, fit the place perfectly.
We didn't have great expectations of Nick's food, but I still managed to be disappointed. Mike went for something "safe," Nick's Special Sandwich ($6.50), "a ground round patty topped with American cheese, plus ham and egg with fried onions, served on toast." It was basically a burger with an omelette on top. He thought it was OK, though all the juice had been cooked out of that patty. It was a large sandwich and he brought home half of it.
I decided to try one of their classic entrees so that I could fairly judge what this restaurant could do in the non-sandwich area. It was a bad, bad idea. I ordered the veal parmigiana ($9.50) and the best I can say about it is that it was edible. The corn chowder it came with wasn't bad and the salad was retro-cool, featuring iceberg lettuce topped with chick peas, shredded carrots and chopped beets. But the veal itself was nasty, the Italian sauce that topped it gave it a sweet flavor with an unappealing bitter aftertaste, and the Swiss cheese didn't have a strong enough flavor to rescue the mess. It was served with limp, thick french fries and what appeared to have been frozen vegetables.
For desert, I was actually looking forward to a slice of the Safeway cakes they keep (label and all) in the display case, but our bill was presented before we had a chance to order it. Other than that, service was fine, though, as I said, the waitress had a somewhat eccentric manner to her.
Needless to say, we won't be going back. Fortunately, there are plenty of better coffee-shops in San Leandro (I'll recommend Manor Grill & Bar if that's what you are in the mood for), so unless you are struck by hunger at 3 am, there is no reason to go to Nick's at all.
Nick's Family Restaurant
14660 Washington Ave.
San Leandro, CA