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Jan 22, 2012 04:09 AM

Disappointed by Nicholas

Big birthday for me this year and as part of my celebration I wanted to have a special dinner for 4 at Nicholas. The birthday is in two weeks so I took no chances and began my inquiries near the beginning of November. I wanted truffles as part of my meal so I told them I would be flexible with the date - any time between then and now would be fine.

The short of it is that we went back and forth through November and December with nothing accomplished. I couldn't get a straight answer from them. Finally a few private emails to the chef also went by with me no closer to having any kind of answer.

All I wanted was a nice meal, maybe at the chef's table, with at least one truffle course. After trying again for the last time with no luck again I was forced to make other plans. I can't believe such a simple request from a regular customer would have been hard for them to do. This was a really big deal for me and they dropped the ball. I am beyond upset.

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  1. Not to upset you more, but fairly recently I read an email about an upcoming truffle dinner. $110 per person I think. Seems like an Easy request to accommodate.

    Happy Birthday. Hope you ha e a chowhound worthy meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: angelo04

      Maybe it's just be but I'm not a fan of truffle menus...I find with truffles, less is more.

      Went to a truffle tasting menu thang at Nicholas a few years back...I'm not going back again. But I will sit at the bar and enjoy my truffles there.

    2. Disappointing indeed since you made the effort to have it happen.

      I recently enjoyed a carne cruda (tartare) with black truffle bruschetta at Manzo in Eataly and it scratched my truffle itch. It's not one big celebration meal, but when I have a big birthday (although I have decided not have any more of these), I spend the whole year celebrating. It seems like the best revenge.

      Happy birthday!

      1. Gee, and I was under the impression that Restaurant Nicholas could do no wrong. It doesn't sound like an unreasonable request, but if they saw it that way they should have immediately told you so instead of putting it off and giving you a runaround (from the sounds of it).

        I've never thought that a restaurant had to honor all requests, but it certainly should do what it can and be prompt and clear with the customer with a decision.

        1. There is absolutely no excuse for their behavior. You've dined there with some regularity and also had a private party there. They should have (a) answered you promptly, and (b) gone out of their way to accommodate your request. Not that it was even a particularly extraordinary thing to ask for. As has been mentioned, Nicholas does an annual truffle tasting dinner in January which sometimes continues into early February. And even if not so this year, black truffles are available through the winter. Sounds as though they are suffering from the proverbial "two big for their britches" syndrome. Disgraceful!

          I hope wherever you are going instead, it's a memorable celebration.

          Happy Birthday!

          1. Happy birthday Seal! What exactly were you hoping the restaurant would do for you? I'm having trouble understanding from your post. Hope you had a nice bday celebration anyway.

            10 Replies
            1. re: joonjoon

              Tyvm to all for the birthday wishes.

              Joonjoon, I really wasn't asking for anything special. According to their website, the chef's table at Nicholas is a private, personal experience with a special tasting menu created just for the guests. I simply wanted to include a truffle course or two in that menu. And, I would have been fine with a quick, "no" or something along those lines. The part that galls me is that I feel like I am dating again and was just strung along for three months.

              1. re: seal

                Seal, were you asking for white truffle dishes, or black? If white then it's possible they didn't want to bring them in for just one table being that you're talking about minimally a few hundred dollar investment. Now I'm not saying this makes what they did right. If my line of thinking is the case then there is absolutely reason that someone couldn't have expressed that to you early on rather than stringing you along for weeks or months.

                1. re: JerZ Wine Geek

                  JerZ Wine Geek,

                  I don't recall ever white truffles being offered at Nicholas. But regardless, the white truffle season ended well before seal intended to go there. So, I'm guessing he had black truffles in mind since it is now that season.


                  1. re: RGR

                    RGR, occasionally Nicholas will bring in a small quantity of white truffles in season and create a couple of dishes that highlight them, at a hefty supplement. Seal had mentioned in his original post that he was flexible with the date of his dinner, anytime between November and January, and since white truffles are still in season in November I figured it was a fair question to ask. Of course after early December it would be black truffle or bust.

                    1. re: JerZ Wine Geek

                      I guess we've never been to Nicholas during white truffle season. Ergo, didn't know that they've been available there. A hefty supplement is certainly not unusual. We've added white truffles to dishes at other restaurants, and the supplement has always been substantial.


                2. re: seal


                  bgut did the chef's table several years ago and, iirc, what bothered him was that they wouldn't allow him to bring a special bottle of wine for which he was willing to pay corkage. While it may be their policy not to permit corkage in the dining room, I think when it comes to the chef's table, they should be more relaxed about such things.

                  Also, when we asked about the tasting menu at the chef's table, we were told that it is composed of dishes taken directly from the regular menu and not one specially created just for the chef's table. That decided us against ever doing it because we don't see any reason to pay a lot extra just to sit at a table near the kitchen.

                  So, where are you going?

                  Happy Birthday!


                  1. re: RGR

                    Tyvm RGR!

                    It's not like I am accusing Nicholas of doing anything wrong... Maybe I was spoiled when EMP took such good care of me that I thought I might be able to get those same, "Anything you like" kind of answers locally.

                    So what happened was that all our celebrations are now in the city. Besides EMP we are also having the burger at DB Bistro and the Dover Sole at La Grenuoille (sp?) as well as an unstructured walk through my favorite foodie areas in the city.

                    1. re: seal

                      Happy Birthday and good for you. I've lived in NJ for close to 20 years now and have been disappointed too many times to take a chance with my time and hard earned cash when it comes time for that special meal. Perhaps we expect too much,maybe we're spoiled living so close to arguably the best restaurant city in America. I haven't been to EMP as yet,but have a March reservation at Le Bernardin for the wife's birthday and Picard's excellent Cabane A Sucre outside Montreal next month. Hell we even drive to Queens for Thai.I'm sure Nicholas is a fine restaurant and worth every penny....most of the time,I'm just not willing to chance it.

                      1. re: seal

                        can we come with? sounds like a great plan... have a good b-day

                        1. re: seal


                          That's my kind of plan!! :)

                          Enjoy! And, again, Happy Birthday!

                          P.S. You've got the spelling almost right. It's La Grenouille. And that Dover Sole au Sauce Moutarde, c'est magnifique!