When we arrive at Nicole’s (almost bang on 12.30pm), the place is empty. As the brunch stretches on into the evening (we end up staying at the rooftop lounge-bar), there isn’t a single other table.
At this point, you’re probably expecting a review packed full of reasons why brunch at Nicole’s misses the mark. What you’re going to get is quite the opposite. No matter how hard we try, we just cannot understand why this bright and cheerful restaurant isn’t inundated with diners every single weekend. Apart from the reason that it’s fairly new, perhaps.
The restaurant itself is quaintly themed (bright blues, whitewashed walls and splashes of colour, plus a few murals), but remains light, airy and fun, rather than being a cliché.
Brunch begins with some of the best shakshouka we’ve tried. It’s rich and comforting, and the eggs are nothing short of perfect. The courses that follow deliver dish after dish of exquisite food, from the hot, cheesy arancini balls and delicious duck liver pâté, to the hearty steak pies and Spanish omelette. Nothing disappoints. Dessert comes as a tray of mini, bite-sized portions, including incredibly creamy and indulgent pots of berry mousse and soft Swiss meringue.
Portions look fairly small, and the menu, at first glance, doesn’t appear to be very long, but don’t underestimate how much food is on its way – there will be plenty, and you can order an unlimited amount of any dishes that you like. Admittedly, this isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly of brunches, but there’s definitely enough to keep veggie friends satisfied.
Aside from the food, one of the best things about this place is the real family-run atmosphere.
Nicole, we’re told, is away, but there are plenty of other family members around, including the restaurant chef who pops out to say hello, and Nicole’s mum, who appears every so often to chat and check on us.
We’re enjoying ourselves so much that hours pass and we barely (if at all) notice the absence of other diners.
Given the high standard of food and the almost shockingly low price for a beverage package, Nicole’s has quickly become one of the most reasonably priced brunches we’ve been to. It might be quiet, but it’s also laidback and refined. Perfect for long, lazy brunch days.
The bottom line An excellent à la carte brunch that we don’t think will stay quiet for much longer.
BHD12.5 (soft drinks), BHD17.5 (house beverages). Friday and Saturday 12.30pm-4pm. Road 3828, Block 338, Adliya, www.nicolesbh.com (17 280 700).