It’s the kind of place you don’t see as much as you used too — a local, full-service restaurant with a large and loyal clientele and a staff who seem to know most of the customers by name. Nick’s Family Restaurant in Denison opens early and closes mid-afternoon, except on the weekends, and specializes in breakfast all day. It has been in this location at the foot of the Denison viaduct for 14 years.
Every year just before Thanksgiving, Nick’s says thanks to its customers by serving a free holiday dinner to all comers. That alone would solidify its standing in the community, but the real attraction is good food and the small town feel of a neighborhood café.
As it had been a while since I was last there. I met a friend at Nick’s for lunch recently. I was thinking about having breakfast, but on studying the menu, I decided to try the pork chop dinner. It came with three sides or two sides and soup, and as potato was the soup of the day, I took that route and added mashed potatoes and fried squash. A couple of squares of cornbread topped things off. My friend, who is not a farmer but does live in the county, stuck with breakfast and ordered the Farmer’s Skillet with grilled potatoes, ham, sausage, onion, Cheddar cheese and a couple of eggs perched on top. He also got some white gravy and biscuits.
First out was the potato soup. It was excellent, but the crackers served alongside, even though they were wrapped in cellophane, were long past their prime and stale. Not a big concern, but a small glitch.
My entree was a large, boneless, grilled pork chop alongside a big mound of mashed potatoes — the real thing, I think — with brown gravy. A small bowl of fried summer crook neck squash completed the meal. Everything on the plate was good, and considerably more than I could finish.
Across the table my lunch companion dutifully tackled the big skillet, and while making a considerable dent in the offering, could not quite finish it off either.
Because of the size of the portions, neither of us had room for dessert. Next time we’ll plan ahead.