Nick's Place Express opened about a year ago in a narrow storefront on Elmwood Avenue in Kenmore. In fact, as we were walking up to the door, I suddenly wondered whether "express" might mean takeout only, and we would be enjoying our breakfasts in the car. But a glimpse of a table in the front window reassured me. Yes, the dining room is small – just three tables for four and one table for two, along with eight low stools at the old-fashioned counter. But it's cozy, and it's like sitting at your grandma's kitchen table, because literally three seconds after the food is put on the plate, it's in front of you.
A few tables were occupied on the weekend just before noon when John and I visited, along with Pat and John. We had heard that this spot is operated by the son of the family that run's Nick's Place on Amherst Street, where we had one of our best breakfasts ever. In that Cheap Eats review from 2008, we praised the Texas hot sauce and the homemade bread, as well as the size of the country breakfast. Both the secret recipe Texas sauce and the homemade bread have been passed down from father to son, and even the country breakfast appears here, just 50 cents more than it was at Nick's four years ago. The menu offers a good selection of breakfast and lunch dishes, many with a Greek flavor. Nothing on the menu is more than $8. That's the price for the fish fry, served on Friday only, and for the open chicken souvlaki.
A small whiteboard lists a couple of unusual specials, which on the day we visited included hash and two eggs and a Polish sausage breakfast. We ordered from here and there on the menu, and although the food did not arrive all at the same minute, each plate was served within a minute or so, and the food was still sizzling from the grill.
We started with one of those specials, the corned beef hash breakfast with two eggs over easy ($7). The hash was cooked until slightly crisp, and the eggs were, as requested, done medium. The toast, made of the homemade bread, was exceptional, light, fresh and moist. The home fries were the best we've had outside of Ireland, where they know their potatoes. They were large segments of peeled potato that had been left on the grill until they were cooked through and had a truly exceptional crunchy crust.
The country breakfast ($8) was a bountiful selection, with two eggs, bacon, sausage or ham, home fries, toast and two pancakes or French toast. Needless to say, it arrived on two plates, with the nicely done eggs, bacon, home fries and toast first. When the thick, light, fluffy, vanilla-infused cakes were plunked down in the middle of the table, we each stuck a fork in and had a few bites, and tremendously enjoyed them.
A half-pound Greek burger was also very good. This hand-formed, meaty patty was nicely cooked and topped with feta, onion and Greek dressing. There were six or eight choices for a side, including Greek potato salad and a green salad, but we went with the Greek potatoes. These large segments of soft potato were served in a bowl containing a small pool of the lemon-infused olive oil in which they had been cooked. The lemon gave the potatoes a real zing.
Finally, we tried the Nick's omelet, an offbeat combination of eggs, two sliced hot dogs, grated cheddar, and chopped green peppers and onions, all cooked together, then topped with a generous portion of a truly delightful Texas red hot sauce – meaty, perfectly spiced and with a hint of cinnamon. On the side were the stellar home fries and the homemade bread. Who could ask for a better breakfast?
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Nick's Place Express
Review: 3 1/2 pennies (Out of 4)
Where: 2466 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore (873-2400)
Hours: Opens at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday, closes at 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday, closes at 8 p.m. Friday. Closed Sunday.Wheelchairaccess: There is one step at the door.