It’s hard to believe that Nicholson’s Tavern & Pub (625 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-564-9111; nicholsonspub.com) has been around for more than 14 years. One of the reasons they’ve lasted so long is that the owners are not afraid to evolve. They are always looking for new ways to increase business and promote excitement about the restaurant.
To that end, Nicholson’s in November added both a late night menu on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as a weekend brunch. The brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. After sampling the brunch twice so far, I can only proclaim it to be outstanding.
Brunch is a great meal. You get to choose either breakfast or lunch, but 100 percent of the time I am going to go with breakfast. While traditional eggs, pancakes, etc., are good, at Nicholson’s, the “breakfasty” brunch items are so much more exciting. Wanna have Beef Short Ribs Eggs Benedict? No problem. How about Chicken & Waffle Sliders? Of course they have them. Also, where else in town are you going to get a Traditional Scottish Breakfast with black pudding, Lorne sausage, rasher and a potato scone ($10).
Mouth watering? It should be, but hold on. Let’s talk cocktails. Is there any time of the week except for brunch that a cocktail is acceptable at 11 a.m.? In addition to the regular (and outstanding) bar menu, Nicholson’s has an inspired cocktail list that for brunch includes a “Build Your Own Bloody Mary” bar.
(All brunch cocktails are $7.) I started off my most recent visit with a holiday-themed Peppermint Bark Martini. Vanilla vodka, chocolate and cream liquors, with Rumpleminze mixed with cream and chocolate sauce, never tasted so good. It was like starting the meal with dessert.
One of my favorite dishes is the NicGriddle ($10). This belly-pleasing plate consists of a spicy homemade sausage patty with melted cheddar cheese, fig applesauce and a fried egg stuffed on a French toast bun augmented with rosemary potatoes. The sausage is clearly the star of the dish, but the fig applesauce adds the unique twist to make this a perfect breakfast sandwich. Oh, if you want to be even more outrageous, the kitchen provides warm maple syrup to baste over the whole thing. If I have to quibble about something, the rosemary potatoes, while nicely seasoned, could have been hotter.
Those Chicken & Waffle Sliders ($11) that I mentioned earlier were also a huge success. A generous-sized, succulent chicken breast was joined with arugula, boursin cheese, hot pepper jelly and candied bacon. (Candied bacon = my new favorite thing.) The flavor and texture of the dish is perfect. The only problem is that it is kinda messy. The relatively boring-on-its-own waffle doesn’t stand up to the weight of its contents. Perhaps a heartier Belgian-type waffle would solve this dilemma. This dish is served with a wonderful fresh fruit cup with huge whole blackberries, and where did they find really good cantaloupe in December?
As to lunch items, I have to admit that I haven’t tried any of them yet, but the Lobster Mac & Cheese ($14) or the Scotsman Salmon and Risotto ($15) could make me break my only-breakfast-items habit. However, my next visit is definitely going to be for one of the benedicts. You can chose from smoked salmon, beef short ribs or lump crab cake (each $12). Which one? Hell, try ‘em all.
The brunch menu also lists several dessert items, including Sticky Toffee Pudding, but I asked nicely and my server was happy to let me have the always magnificent Nicholson’s Whiskey Bread Pudding ($6). Warm with an addictive caramel sauce and topped with hard sauce (which is neither hard nor a sauce, but instead a cold spread made by beating butter and sugar with whiskey), it was the perfect ending to a perfect brunch.
CONTACT BILL HATFIELD: firstname.lastname@example.org