ryland inn or cafe nicholas
special occasion, one meal. which restaurant? any help?
bgut1 - Not questioning your choice, but what are your reasons for Nicholas over Ryland? Living in Somerset County, I've been to Ryland in the past (still paying off the home equity loan I took out to pay for the dinner) but not to Nicholas, and looking for a reason to trek to Nicholas.
Obviously, I'm not bgut1, but this is what I wrote in answer to your post on the Tri-State board:
"A correction. The formal name is Restaurant Nicholas though it's mostly referred to as just "Nicholas." I highly recommend it over Ryland Inn. In my estimation, Nicholas has far superior food, in addition to a superb wine list, first rate service (not a hint of stuffiness or attitude), and wonderful ambiance."
I'll add here that Craig Shelton's food has always left me wondering what all the hoopla is about. I've never had a "Wow!" moment at the Ryland Inn, while at Nicholas, the "Wow!"s just keep on coming whether you eat in the dining room or at the bar. Furthermore, the service at Nicholas has a warmth (in addition to its polished professionalism) that I found lacking at RI.
Since you've already been to the Ryland Inn, I urge you to go to Nicholas and compare for yourself. Have a pre-dinner drink in the beautiful bar room, then on to dinner in the dining room with its soothing contemporary decor, well-spaced tables, and oh-so-comfortable seats. Enjoy what will be one of the best meals anywhere along with pampering service. Nicholas, himself, or his wife Melissa, (both with sommelier credentials) will help you choose your wine.
If you make the trek, I feel absolutelly certain you won't be sorry.
Enjoy and Bon Appetit!
I remember reading that RI was being put up for sale, but that was quite some time ago. I've heard nothing about it since, so I wonder if it's still on the market.
In an attempt to appeal to less affluent diners -- and, I presume, to boost the bottom line -- RI created a less costly bistro menu which, I believe, is served in their bar area. Have no idea how well that's gone over. In contrast, the menu of "small plates" that Nicholas serves in their bar area is taken directly from their regular menu but priced in such a way that even if you construct a full meal (approximating a tasting menu), it can end up costing you decidedly less than dining more formally.
Funny, I was just thinking about going back to Nicholas ...
I have not even considered going back to RI.
Nicholas is a top tier, manhattan level restaurant.
RI is a nice spot set in a nice location.
Only way to tell for yourself is to try it.
I have only been the Ryland Inn once, that was enough for me. Compared to Nicholas, there is no question in my mind. Nicholas always serves up truely tasteful dishes. For some reason, even items I do not care for, somehow I begin to love them after dining at Nicholas. i.e. Lemongrass. I was never a fan of it, but it was recently in a dish I had here and I loved it!
By all the responses on Nicholas, I would presume you will be choosing this restaurant.
Enjoy your meal.
I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to your post. While I haven't dined at Ryland in quite some time I recall not being impressed with the food. On the other hand, the food at Nicholas is top notch and is equal to in all respects to a 3 star NYC restaurant. Having just dined in the Chef's Table at Nicholas this past weekend, I was blown away by the quality of food and service at this restaurant. Exemplary in all aspects of fine dining.