The Nickel replaced Restaurant Kevin Taylor a few years ago inside the beautiful Hotel Teatro in the Theatre District — and it’s been a perfect addition to the neighborhood. It’s less intimidating than Restaurant Kevin Taylor used to be, and offers a brighter space with a more trendy atmosphere. The Nickel serves up some really nice cocktails and plates if you’re looking for a bite to eat before a show — or if you need a somewhat upscale lunch spot for a client meeting.
What The Nickel does really well is straddle the line between a fine dining establishment worthy of the space in the Hotel Teatro — and an approachable local restaurant that’s perfect for a cocktail and some charcuterie.
The Nickel is a beautiful space, but you’ll notice it feels a lot more open and approachable than its predecessor. Dark tablecloths and classic, upholstered ivory chairs have been replaced with lots of wood, leather, fun patterns, and industrial lamps.
The 3-5pm daily happy hour here is very reasonable. For just $5, you can get a pretty good glass of wine, or for $7 you can choose from one of two rotating specialty barrel-aged cocktails. There are also draft beers at $2 off, as well as some happy hour bites.
If you’re willing to splurge, the Seven-Nickel ($12) isn’t on the happy hour menu, but it’s one of my favorite cocktails anywhere: Leopold’s small batch gin, lemon juice, prosecco, citrus twist. It’s been at the top of the cocktail menu since The Nickel opened.
Back to the charcuterie. Christopher Thompson is the executive chef and salumaio at San Francisco’s award-winning A16 restaurant — so I had pretty high expectations. The meat and cheese list does not disappoint. I’m just sad that the headcheese I fell in love with at The Nickel’s Cochon 555 station isn’t on the menu anymore (and that’s what I was most excited about).
We had the Jamon Iberico ($11) and Chicken Liver Mousse ($9), both of definitely did not skimp on the portions. If you’ve never had Jamon Iberico before, it’s a must try.
The Shaved Asparagus “salad” had plenty of bresaola (another kind of cured meat) on the side to make the carnivore inside me very happy.
I also recommend the Braised Pork Meatballs ($13), which are very filling for a “small plate.” I mean who doesn’t love them some meatballs?
I’m not sure this was my favorite preparation of Veal Sweetbreads, but if you like fried things, then maybe you’ll be a fan of this. The maitake mushrooms, asparagus puree, and asparagus tips help brighten up the dish, though.