I took a party of five to Nicole's for Saturday evening dinner. Open since April 15, 2008, the restaurant replaces An American Grill, which had a great many loyal customers. I understand that the former owner, Lou, simply tired of the grind, and sold out.
Nicole's benefits from a great location (Route 10 West in Randolph), sufficient parking, a nice room with some different levels, choices of more private booths and tables, and a separate bar and lounge.
The cuisine can best be described as fish and seafood with a few meat opportunities as well. The wine list includes some good by-the-glass choices for about five or six varietals, and a relatively reasonable mark up on bottles. There is apparently a bar menu and a happy hour, as well, although we did not get over to that side to sample or even see it.
Portions are generous on the salads and sides. Plating is very nicely done. I had a swordfish with a very nice, simple papaya salsa. The fish was impeccably fresh, perfectly cut and grilled, and not drowned in the salsa. The sides were garlic mashed potatoes, fries, a rice/pasta pilaf, or baked potatoes. Green beans with garlic and oil were nicely done, as well, as an additional side, very reasonably priced.
Excellent, crusty bread was served with rosemary infused olive oil, good balsamic, and bulbs of roasted garlic. A nice touch.
Each of the guests ordered fish. The soy/miso salmon was excellent, and a very nice portion with broccoli rabe. The arctic char was likewise wonderful, with the same base. Stuffed flounder was a very, very large portion, plated nicely.
The standout dessert was a brownie with ice cream. Homemade brownie, made with really, really fine quality chocolate.
The entire bill for the dinner for five with wine, two desserts, and two extra sides was $143, a bargain by Northern New Jersey standards for fresh fish.
The fish was fresh. It wasn't beaten to death with heavy sauce and extraneous ingredients. The sides were likewise simple and the chef kept her eye on the prize.
I'll be going back.