So Nichol’s has closed. The tatty cardboard sign may say “Closed for refurbishment” but nobody’s fooled. It’s closed. And that’s sad news and when I heard it I didn’t believe it. I drove the short highway distance to investigate and read the sign for myself. Then I peered through the windows into the gloomy interior that had been stripped of most furniture and décor. I saw, and believed.
Nichol’s was a pub, and the closest thing to an English pub in this part of the world. Perhaps that was due to the tenancy of Simon who moved here from London in the 1990s and created a perfect watering hole. It was he who introduced Fullers Ale, shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole and steak and kidney pie (in addition to a good choice of burgers, steaks and fish) and who remained the genial host until his retirement in 2007.
Fallow years followed under new management. Menus were changed and the once top-quality ingredients were replaced with lower grade meats and produce. Staff came and went and customers drifted away, and we heard of rows and worse than rows behind the kitchen swing doors. And then for a short while the lights were turned off.
Yet turned on again when a man with the uncertain name of Ziggy took the captain’s chair. Burgers and burghers rebounded, and within a few weeks Nichol’s had regained its reputation for being a place where the bar and the food were excellent and affordable.
So what happened? We heard of wars and rumors of wars but nothing definite. Not that it matters. A local institution has gone. It was the perfect place to eat out informally without breaking the bank, and enjoy a well-kept pint of English beer. It was where we celebrated many birthdays and took many guests. And a reliable place to order take-away.
I will miss Nichol’s, that small un-Hamptons shack-like pub with eclectic wall décor, perfect burgers, a well-stocked bar, and possibly the best bouillabaisse I have ever eaten outside of France.