When I first started working for the client with whom I was employed previously, I would take a lot more lunch hours to go out and explore the surrounding area. Nearly a year and a half later, the opposite has happened; most of my lunches were purchased through the on-site cafeteria. The food at the cafeteria was so-so and as long as you stuck to some of the basics -- soups, sandwiches, and yogurt -- you'd do okay.
Today, however, I just felt like going out for lunch. Wanting something relatively close, I decided to return to a quaint little diner that serves up a mean double cheeseburger, Nicole's Family Restaurant. It's been at least three months since I've eaten there and felt like today was a nice day to return.
I also made the conscious choice before I even arrived that I didn't want to do a cheeseburger today. I had already had some form of beef three out of the last four days. So, when I sat down and started looking at the menu, I zeroed in on the spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce. Of course, it didn't even occur to me until after the words had left my mouth and my server was walking away that I had ordered the "spaghetti and meatballs". Um, hello? McFly? Wasn't I trying to not eat more beef? Ah well.
After about ten minutes of waiting, I received my plate of spaghetti and meatballs accompanied by two slices of Texas Toast garlic bread:
A closer shot:
The sauce was decent, nothing fancy. I could taste the oregano and the mild chunkiness of the tomatoes in the sauce. Unfortunately, the pasta was vastly overcooked. The noodles were clearly cooked ahead of time and then reheated in water for service. You could tell because the spaghetti had that overly plumped look to it. This may be great for hot dogs, but for pasta, not so much. There was a little bit of pasta water in the bottom of the bowl, but it wasn't terrible. The garlic bread was fine, but there was a remarkable lack of any actual garlic chunks to let me know that this was the real deal. The Texas Toast was nicely crisped though.
The meatballs had a wonderful seasoning to them and were quite tender. Here was one cut in half:
With my meal, I also had the chance to order one side item. Having never had their broasted potatoes before, I decided to give them a try. Here was what came out with my meal:
And a shot of the inside of one:
These were HUGE. Like Jo Jo's on steroids. They had a nice crispy coating on the outside created by a flour and spice dredge that the cook applied before pressure frying them. As I ate my spaghetti, I was worried that they might get a little cold. But, because of their sheer size and the fact that the potato was completely encased in the coating, they stayed hot the entire time.
The only complaint I had about the broasted potatoes was that the coating lacked enough salt to properly season such a thick wedge of potato. After asking my waitress about it, she confirmed that it was a coating mix provided by the same company that provided the broasting equipment and brines that they used for their broasted chicken. And if you remember my comments from this post about Nicole's broasted chicken, I noticed that it was lacking in salt, too.
Because of the starchy nature of my lunch, I decided to skip dessert as I was too full. My rather hearty lunch came to a very reasonable $7, including tax. I don't know that I would travel far out of my way just to come to Nicole's. The food is solid but not spectacular. But, if you happen to be in the Canton/East Canton area for some other reason, it's definitely worth a look. Just remember, they aren't open on Mondays. Take it from someone who already made that mistake once.