Nick's on Broadway
500 Broadway, Providence, RI
From what I could tell while reading up on Providence brunch spots, Nick's serves an (if not the) ideal brunch. It's out on Broadway, which means that if you're staying in a hotel in the downtown area, you'll need to take a cab or walk (it's a little less than 1 1/2 miles from downtown). We walked and on a nice morning it was the ideal way to work up an appetite.
Nick's is a small place (8-10 seats at the bar, 8 or so tables) and I had read that it filled up quickly. But we made it there before 9:00 when we visited and walked right on in.
We really liked Nick's. The service staff was so friendly and welcoming. We sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen area - watching a brunch service can be exhausting, but the chef kept things moving and while the pace may have increased, the rhythm of the line's cooking stayed even. It was a pleasure to watch. We ended up going to Nick's on both Saturday and Sunday, so we got to try a few different things.
On Saturday, we had huevos rancheros and a breakfast sandwich of egg, tomato, prosciutto, pesto and provolone. The beans on the huevos were cooked just right; nice and saucy and well-seasoned and perfectly soft and tender (I have a thing about undercooked beans). They were topped with tomato salsa and cilantro cream. I prefer my huevos a little spicier, so I doctored my plate with a little hot sauce. The tortilla had been heated on the grill, so there were little charred crispy sections to provide a nice counterpoint to the creamy beans and egg.
The breakfast sandwich was grilled on multi-grain bread and was remarkably satisfying for its seemingly small size.
We also ordered a side of duck sausage. We got three links of plump, juicy, ducky sausages. Alas, not made in-house, but we overlooked that (and appreciated the kitchen's honesty). They were orangey and well-spiced and really fantastic. (I am going to have to do my own duck sausage experimentation, that's clear.)
On Sunday, we both had a breakfast special that was described by our server. Sweet corn and potato cakes, topped with eggs and hollandaise sauce. A potato cake Benedict? You bet. We each got two potato cakes, topped with fresh spinach, poached eggs and delightfully lemony hollandaise sauce. This was clearly a popular special as they ran out of it while we were eating ours. Go early!
Without tip, we spent about $36 each day for two "entrees", a side dish, coffees and juice. Prices on breakfast basics like pancakes and eggs are much lower than on the special items we ordered. We were really impressed with the freshness of the food, and with the care the staff took. (Nick's is one of the only I've ever been to that asked me how I wanted my bacon cooked.)