les copains, Princeton
One night in Princeton last week. Stayed at the Peacock Inn, and, despite being in Best Places to Stay, was very tacky. The inn may have been good once, but the bedrooms no longer even resemble the one in photos in its own brochures. Planned to eat there, but changed minds on arrival.
Wandered round and round looking for somewhere. Pot luck really. Went to les copains on witherspoon st. Nice enough place to be in.
Apps: wild mushroom soup, and escargot were really good.
Mains: tuna with capers and truffle mashed pots-- pitiful. the fish was not off, just poor quality. Another main i tried was duck "rolled in apricots, cherries, caradmon. sorrel and parsley served with natural jus" I can quote bec attached to the restaurant card, came the the menu. The duck tho requested rare was tough.
Desserts: good cheesecake and berries. Cheese plate: asked for stilton, but it was something like danish blue.
Service: pretty aggressive and interfering. We were ok bec they did not need our table for 2. However, 2 gps of 4 on either side were treated as follows. the minute the spoons hit their dessert plates, the waiter appeared with check, and said "we're busy tonight" at which point one neighbor said under his breath, we're just about to begin a game of scrabble. Interfering in the sense that the restaurant was abuzz with academic discussion ....theology and alfred adler...and the waiter would approach the tables while everyone was eating and talk in full flow, and say, "no smiles?" The discussions would continue and the waiter would again ask, "everything ok, i see no smiles?"
Conclusion: apps, and cheesecake fine, service and mains not good.
Well, we read Yvonne's review AFTER we had already made reservations at Les Copains for last night. Well, forewarned is forarmed... :-)
We had been to Les Copains once before, not long after it had opened. (Never made it to its predecessor, Harriette's.) At that time, it was BYOB, we had a terrible table, and service was awful. Sorry, no specific examples - we had put the experience out of our memories. :-)
Although we're pleased to say that last night's dining experience was better than that, let's just say we won't put this place at the top of our recommendations list for Princeton dining.
I had the soup of the day - a puree of chickpea with tomato, garnished with chive oil and red peppers. This was excellent - reminded me of a thinner version of flavored hummus. Ken's tuna tatare was a bit disappointing - said he had to mix things up before the flavors would really come through. (Once that happened, though, the dish improved.)
Salads were nothing to write home about. Ken's organic greens were all right, while my Boston Bibb with goat cheese fritters was drenched in the balsamic. And the bread was forgettable.
Entrees, though, were great. Since Ken's two favorite things looked so appealing on the menu, I tried the filet so he could have the rack of lamb. The filet was crusted with peppers and finished with vegetables, cognac and cream atop mashed sweet potatoes. The lamb featured a cherry sauce that actually worked. Even more (pleasantly) surprising: both dishes mated well with the wine. :-) Les Copains now has a liquor license, and since our first choice merlot was unavailable, we decided to test the server by asking him for a recommendation. He suggested a '98 Cote d'Rhone that had nice fruit and some hints of spice normally asociated with red zin. We were pleased.
Dessert, though, was another disappointment - especially for me. I had the flourless chocolate cake. It was served in a mini souffle dish, and would've been just lovely - had it not been drenched in cream topped with too many blueberries and strawberries (they would've been much better on the side). It took quite a bit of doing to find the chocolate, if you know what I mean. Ken had a poached pear, and was a bit less disappointed: Although the pear itself was good, it was served in another unexpected way (Sorry, specifics suddenly escape me - maybe he'll clarify in another post.)
To add insult to injury, it took longer than it should've to resolve the check. The bill needed to be revised - we were charged the price for the tuna entree instead of the appetizer. Although the staff apologized profusely, it was somewhat aggravating to wait and wait to finally leave. In spite of the adjustments, we still felt we paid more than we should've for what we got. Oh well.
We MIGHT give this place one more try later in the year to see what they might do with summer produce - but not before we return to some better places in the area.
My Honey, for my birthday last weekend, took me to a really nice B&B in Sergeantsville, NJ (about 30 min. from Princeton, 30 min. from Rutgers, 10-15 min from Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA). It is called Silver Maple Farms and run by great guys, Bill and Steve - 200+ year-old farmhouse and buildings, lots of acreage, a working organic farm, they even have goats. ALso a hot tub (up and running and great) and pool (will be ready for the season, they say) and they allow dogs (have hound, will travel!). It was a great weekend and I provided the link below. The breakfasts were really good (omelets, pecan waffles, eggs and pork roll - one on each of the 3 mornings we were there) and Bill is Becky Home-Ecky always baking up a storm (molasses cookies, banana chocolcate chip pan cookies...mmmm). I really recommend the place.
FOr one dinner we went to a very nice place they suggested in Rosemont called Cafe (sometimes referred to as the Rosemont Cafe). It is at the cross of County Routes 519 & 604 in Rosemont, NJ phone# is 609.397.4097 (very close to New Hope/Lambertville and FLemington). It is BYO, very reasonably priced, and the food is incredibly well prepared. My starter was a Manchego (a sharp, Spanish cheese similar to a peccorino romano, I suppose) and Garlic Flan - soooo rich and cramy and good, I almost cried. I had the duck breast, Honey had the pork loin (good, not great) - good homemade butterscotch pudding for dessert (and a good cheesecake too). Really comfy and romantic place. On Wednesdays they do a prix fixe menu (SOmething riduculous like $20 for 3 courses) around a type of cuisine. The flyer we saw had Japanese food touted - nice selections (2-3 for each course) too. Someone in the kitchen is really talented, it is obvious...
thanks, Jill-O, for the recs. the Silver Maple Farm B&B looks neat. And I do like goats. That Ricky is cute.
This is a few years back. I stayed at the 1740 house in New Hope, PA. It was very comfortable.
ps: I forgot to mention that les copains is pretty pricey for what you get. $26-28 for mains.
re: yvonne johnson
I'm new to this site, but surprised to hear the complaints about les copains when Acacia is five minutes away in Lawrenceville-this place rocks! We've never had less than fabulous food and service. To boot, they're byob, but have very good stemware on the table, and will even decant your claret or vintage port tableside! Wow. Better wine service than most restaurants serving mediocre Cal Cabs at $75.+/bottle! A winner.