Restaurant Nicholas [Red Bank, NJ]

I’m not on Nicholas’s Xmas Card list but I do get his emails. I’m sure many of you already knew this but it is news to me.

Barrel & Roost

Ever since our intentionally ambiguous Christmas card with the family standing in front of Restaurant Nicholas holding shovels with our hard hats on, we fielded questions about the meaning. If you have asked, then you know we gave you an even more ambiguous answer. Well, the time has come to finally let you in on a decision that Melissa and I have kept a secret. It says it right in our original business plan. Restaurant Nicholas was always intended to be a 20-year restaurant. Of course, 20 years ago when we wrote it, we figured by our age we would be ready to retire. Youthful thoughts indeed![:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:]

We’ve been asked many times why we never wanted a 2nd or 3rd restaurant. Why would we want to do that? We loved Restaurant Nicholas, it was everything we ever wanted to do. It was our passion, it was not to be duplicated and we accomplished more then we could ever imagine. We knew that we could not do any better than what we already created. But, 20 years has passed and we are on to the next exciting chapter of our lives.

For the last 18 months, Melissa and I have been developing a new restaurant and concept. Perhaps the strangest thing in "the strangest life I’ve ever known "(you deserve something if you know that lyric) is that we always planned on closing for construction on April 1st. We had nothing to do with this pandemic (so do not blame us!) but we were able to complete building the new restaurant while not being closed a single day for it. Judging by the hundreds of calls we receive each day asking when Restaurant Nicholas will reopen, there is going to be some upset people. We get it, you have been an integral part of our lives too. However, we could not be more excited to open our new place. It’s just time to write some new lyrics.

Please come visit us sometime in August when we open the New Nicholas Barrel & Roost where we will be serving up chef driven comfort food . You can look forward to the same heart and soul poured into our menu and service as well as the same cast of characters, it will just look and feel a whole lot more casual. Check out the menu!

Oh and all of those gift certificates you have… of course, we will honor 100% of them.

Stay tuned for our opening date!

Nicholas & Melissa

160 Route 35 South, Red Bank, NJ
(732) 345-9977

(sorry about the lack of neat formatting)


I don’t know about you, but I don’t think of Bourbon Braised Suckling Pig or Butter Poached Nova Scotia Etoufee as comfort foods, and while Chicken Pot Pie could be, a $27 price tag is a lot less comfortable.


Wow! I never got to RN, but I just want to give him/them a shoutout for doing this the RIGHT way. It’s in their own voice, they acknowledge knowing that some people will be upset, they’re honoring gift cards, etc. We see so many examples of chefs/owners saying or doing the very wrong thing publicly these days, but this email hits all of the right spots, imo.

ETA that I’m far more likely to go to a place with a more casual menu.


We are casual diners. My wife liked the new menu.


When I read the menu I wondered if the family was interested adopting me.


I look forward to hitting up Nick’s Ice Cream Shop.

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smart move here -for foreseeable future I think this will be the type of food/price point people will gravitate to more. Would prob be more of an any night of the week visit rather than a weekend special occasion place as well. Coupled with his booze delivery business I think he’s better suited to weather the next period we face than he was before. Very interested to see if he delivers same premium experience at a more mid level price point.


I like the new menu. I always liked the bar atmosphere better for dinner than the dining room, so I’m glad it is going to be more casual. Can’t wait to see how it looks inside.


I think I’m being dense here but are they closing Nicolas and opening this in the same space?

I do think this makes a lot of sense. We did a very fancy dinner in the dining room years ago to celebrate a promotion. The food was delicious and the service spot on but, man it felt stuffy. We had several dinners at the bar which was elevated (and excellent people watching. People really like to show off how wealthy they are!) Delicious without being pretentious. I wish them well! Looking forward to trying!


I heard they got a designer to renovate it.


This is the exact reason why I haven’t been there yet… That’s what I’ve heard from many people whose opinions I trust!

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We were also the youngest people in the dining room by at LEAST a 30 year margin (staff not included). I really felt like people were staring at us!

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We’ve eaten at the bar so many times I can’t even count. We’ve also had two or three parties over the years in one of the main rooms. Very few times have we eaten dinner in one of those rooms and mostly just to have the full tasting menu.

This new menu sounds great and I can’t wait to have a large order of my favorite gnocchi with a burger.


I have heard that as well! Those ‘vibes’ (+ the showing off of wealth) just don’t appeal to me, so I’m happy to read about the new approach. One of my favorite long-gone restaurants was Blu in Montclair, and the main reason I loved it was that you’d get a spectacular meal full of creative combinations, but you could be all dressed up OR (esp in a snowstorm) completely casual. Didn’t matter–I cared about what was on the plate!


And I loved Next Door. But I hated trying to park on Bloomfield Avenue.


My last time in the dining room was their original pre-addition dining room. I don’t recall if they even had a bar back then, since then maybe a dozen always excellent meals at the bar.

Regardless of the reasons for the change I don’t think he’s a one trick pony and my money is this place will do well.


As I see the liquor delivery truck drive by I agree. I think he’s figure out some smart adaptations on how to make it through these days

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I knew this would spark some conversation. It’s very interesting to read everyones’ perspective.

Back in the day, when drug reps were still allowed to sponsor dinners, we used to go to Nicholas every so often. Usually we’d be in a private room and there would be a limited menu. I think we sat in the main dining room twice. Once for one the truffle-tasting menus (I still sometimes dream of the ravioli with truffle and duck egg) and once for one of those birthdays that ends in a zero. I always found the food to be interesting a good way but Mr Bean isn’t a fan. He doesn’t like tweezer food.

This seems to be the bar menu in a larger setting, yes? I think it could work with both a new and the “older” demographics. I’ve never been to the bar - does he have a cocktail menu? I’d love to see what they can do with that.

If anyone can make this work I think Nicholas and Melissa can. They are quite savvy. Look at what they did for ice cream.


I loved Next Door as well! Still the best burger I’ve ever had.

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Is anyone else concerned about parking? Everytime we went before it was valet because the lot is small. And outdoor dining?

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