IT’S A family affair, which was fairly obvious judging by the large number of happy families sat around me.
But then again Nick’s in Southampton’s East Street has been part of the city’s ‘Family’ for generations.
Something had been missing since owner Nick Prodromou decided to retire after 40-years of serving up fine food in his restaurant. And then he was back. Or to be more accurate, Nick’s family was back.
Nick’s Restaurant reopened again earlier in the year with Nick being assisted by his extended family.
It was a typical Thursday lunchtime when I dropped in. Quite a few tables were already occupied by the time I was shown to my window table by the ever-smiling staff. It was a great place to watch the East Street world go by, just my sort of table.
A quick chat with Nick’s son-in-law Ray and daughter Christina who had popped out from the kitchen to say hello, and I tackled the menu.
Word of warning; it’s extensive.
“We’ve tried to cut it back, but whenever we take something off the regulars stage a mini revolution,”
Christina informed me. And they are a bossy lot, some of Nick’s regulars it seems. The previous week’s steak and mushroom pie had gone down so well that there were rumblings of taking to the barricades when portions ran short.
The secret of Nick’s longevity was there in my hands then? I put to the man himself when he joined me at my table for a quick hello.
“I haven’t changed the menu for 40-years. It’s what people want,” he told me as I suggested the secret of his long-time success was in my hands.
And then my choice. Nick’s menu is the kind of food you would describe as comforting – extremely comforting.
Yes, there is a good nod towards Nick’s Greek inheritance – lovely Mousakas, Kebabs and Souflaki, and don’t miss the restaurant’s Greek Nights for a real treat. But the mainstay of the menu consists of traditional, well cooked, large portioned, fare that keeps you coming back for more.
From good old double egg, sausage and chips, to a marvellous mixed griil, from lasagne to calamari, and on to a brilliant range of steaks, it was a dream come true for a chap who likes his tuck the old traditional way – and don’t get me started on the liver and onions!
I noted a fare range of vegetarian options, beautiful salads and – joy of joys – roasts along with Yorshire puds. Fabulous.
My only regret was that this was a lunchtime and, alas, I couldn’t sample any of Nick’s signature evening dishes that included sirloin chasseur, fillet steak Rossinni, sirloin gypsy steak and Chicken Cypriot.
A choice had to be made and I went for pork chops with a “small” Village Greek salad.
The salad arrived first, and thank goodness I’d asked for “small” – it was brimming with feta cheese and olives, tomatoes and greens. A feast in itself and, I was told, a full portion (£6.95) was huge. (Note for future visit).
My pork chops came with masses of mushrooms, grilled tomato, peas and a side dish of chips, fabulous value at £9.95.
A glass of lovely Keo Othello red wine from Cyprus and I was set.
Eventually, after leaving just two or three chips to one side as a pointless gesture towards my waistline – you can have slimmer versions of Nick’s meals with baked spuds or salads replacing chips by the way – I settled back to contemplate the puds.
I could have had cherry pie and custard or ice cream,.I could have had treacle tart! I could have had jam sponge and ice cream. I know – how amazing is that!
I didn’t. I settled for coffee. To be frank I was worried I might have to hail a cab to take me back to the car. Brilliant.
Nick’s has changed of course. The restaurant has a new look and has moved with the times.
But at its heart Nick’s remains, well, Nick’s. And long may that be the case.
Nick's Restaurant, East Street, Southampton
023 8022 1040