Nicky's 2340 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 333-3519. Hours: Seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Atmosphere: If there's a dress code it must be top secret; this is your basic fill-in and fuel-up neighbourhood haven.
Price Range: You can fill up on an omelette and the salad bar for $2.85 or choose dozens of dishes under $6. Pizzas are half-price every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to closing.
Credit Cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.
Reservations: Goodness, no.
Special Facilities: Accessible by whellchair. No booster chairs but they can rustle up some phone books to sit on. Street parking most times.
We were sitting along the first-base line at the Guy Mason Recreation Center, watching a tight 31:31 ball game between the Second District Police and the local radio and TV "Celebrity All-Stars," when we noticed across Wisconsin Avenue that Nickey's has had a face-lift.
It just says "Nicky's" now, not "Nicky's Steak 'N' Place" as it did two years ago when we first checked it out for this column. Had it changed a lot? Would this cosmetic surgery out front mean more of a crimp in the wallet?
We didn't find out that evening, because we all got caught up in the excitement of the game, a fun annual benefit for the Police Boys and Girls Clubs. It had ended on this breath-taking tying play, when at least 10 celebrities ran in together from third base to home plate.
But on one of those downpour Sundays that you're still trying to forget, the four of us and Stephanie, one of our most trusted 10-year-old table-hoppers, waded in for dinner.
We can safely report that nothing dramatic has happened to the inside of the place, though a few of the regular customers had been dusted off ahd reconstructed since last time. And instead of one of those bigger-than-life TV screens in one room of this two-sided complex, there are now two huge screens -- which unfortunately makes it hard to escape boob-tubery.
We did find a nook behind one of the screens, though, where you could still hear "60 Minutes" but didn't have to eat with a garantuan Harry Reasoner looking on.
The view from this vantage point was of a salad bar surrounded by a steady stream of food architects trying to see how much they could balance on a plate. We could also watch Nicky's answer to r2-d2, which is the three-eyed, color-spotlight TV blower-upper.
Even before the preliminary mugs of beer and tall glasses of cola arrived, three-fifths of out dining team had left for another nook that housed a couple of pinball machines, a TV game and juke box that either played music beyond the range of the human ear or had gone dead in deference to Mr Reasoner and friends.
But now back to our booth, where a parental persual of the menu turned up many an option. There is still a long list of omelettes, for example, from the $2.85 plain, on through mushrooms, sausage, cheese and bacon to the "Name Your Own" omelette for $3.95. Each one is served with a fling at the salad bar and bread basket with butter.
Sandwiches, too, are many and varied, from roast beef, ham and cheese, hot corned beef, chicken salad, BLT or tuna at $1.95, on up to a mighty double-decker club at $2.55. For another $1 they toss in the salad bar as well. There are a dozen different burgers, from $2.95 to $3.40, or the name-your-own at $3.75 -- these with salad bar and fries.
We could go on, for there are cold platters below $3, a pair of tacos for $2.25, spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli and manicotti below $4 and much, much more.
Our 10-year-old daughter was first to choose -- a steak and cheese sandwich, $2.35, and hold the shredded lettuce. Order one more for Stephanie, only on this one hold the cheese. Then add side oders of fries. The sandwiches, by the way, turned out to be about 9 inches long, sliced in halves.
As long as we're into measurements, our 12-year-old son collared a foot-long chili dog, $2.45, with fries and cole slaw. My wife concentrated on an admirable Reuben sandwich, $2.55. [she had first thought of ordering a $3.95 pepperoni pizza, but was informed that this would be no one-person venture].
After being cooped up all day, i chose chicken but it had just been scratched. I began instead with chicken noodle soup, $1.35, which was thick and lively -- so much so that our daughter ordered a bowl of it as her desert.
For an entree, I volunteered for veal parmigiana, $3.95. In a pushover, the spaghetti stole the show. When will I ever learn?
What all Family Outniks will learn right off the bat at Nicky's is that the place is a bargain. The bill for the five of us was $19.12 plus tip. That's worth chewing on next time you're foraging in the upper reaches of Georgetown [all right, so it's really Burleith]. For our part, we may not wait until our fifth annual trip to the police benefit soft ball game before taking another swing through Nicky's.