At a glance: Nick’s Family Restaurant, 1916 Sherwood Drive, Kingsport, Tenn.; 423-247-8601; Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; credit cards accepted.
The parking lot directly adjacent to Nick’s Family Restaurant in Kingsport isn’t very large to begin with, but I was able to snag the last available space. Otherwise, I would have had to park across the street.
It was during the breakfast hour. Even though the parking lot was full, I was the only person in the dining room. Other folks came in behind me.
“Are they here yet?” one of the new arrivals asked.
The lady at the counter nodded and pointed toward the back dining area. That’s when I noticed another area — a “back room” adjacent to where I was seated. Turns out, that’s where everyone else was having coffee, and they all seemed to know each other well. I barely stuck my head in the door — the gang hanging out there was an older crowd and appeared very friendly — but I quickly felt like I had accidently grabbed a seat at the cool kids’ table in high school.
So I went back to my table-for-one in the solo-occupied dining room and finished my coffee.
I’m not a resident of Kingsport, but I can see how Nick’s is one of those hometown restaurants that’s become a community landmark for its country food, casual atmosphere and sense of camaraderie.
My motivations for giving Nick’s a try were the source of debate among my friends. A few said the fried chicken there couldn’t be beat, but others believed my first time at Nick’s would be a tragedy if I didn’t try the burger and fries.
I broke that deadlock by going during breakfast. Like most country kitchens, Nick’s has an extensive listing of breakfast items, with something suitable for every appetite level. The gravy was smooth and relatively thick, and with an extra dash of pepper it made for a wonderful combination with my biscuit and slice of tenderloin. The homemade biscuits were not quite as flaky as I would prefer, but I still give them an A-minus, and the tenderloin was seasoned well, too.
If you have a favorite country breakfast item, chances are you’ll find it at Nick’s, including small, fried-potato rounds with cheese. Yes, they are similar to the cheddar rounds at the ever-popular “sudden service place,” but the ones at Nick’s don’t have quite as much cheese inside.
So, the burger or the fried chicken … which is better? I went back later to find out, and to be honest, I loved both. The chicken breast was fried and had an extra crispiness but wasn’t too dry inside; in fact, it was rather moist. What I really enjoyed were the sides of slaw and potato wedges, which I dipped in honey mustard.
I felt somewhat guilty eating the cheeseburger (which had pepper jack) but that was totally my fault. I joked with the girl taking my order, telling her “not to hold back” with the grease, and I also added extra mayo. These burgers are juicy and appear to be quite popular during lunch. And they definitely satisfy a hungry lunch appetite.
I keep thinking about seeing those folks in the back room at Nick’s. Man, I really want to retire and start my own coffee club. Maybe I can reserve a table back there, too.
|Kingsport Christmas Tree Lighting|
|Held on Saturday, December 4, 2010. The Sevier Middle School orchestra played in the progress building at 6:00. The gingerbread house exhibit was held at the Regions bank. Music, reading of the Christmas Story, hot chocolate, hot apple cider and cookies, sing-a-long where held at Church Circle.|