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Sep 6, 2007 06:36 AM

Lambertville/New Hope

I need to purchase a restaurant gift certificate in the amount of $150-$200 as a wedding gift. The couple live in the Lambertville area. I know that there are many restaurants in Lambertville and New Hope, but I'm not familiar with any of them. Is there a special occasion place for this price range in the area?

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  1. I good suggestion I can pass along is The Blue Bottle Cafe in Hopewell. That would be around 20 minutes or so from Lambertville. I just had dinner there last night and it is excellent. This was my third visit, and each time the food was great and the service warm and friendly. My other suggestion would be Anton's at the Swan in Lambertville.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mschow

      We're going to have to try The Blue Bottle Cafe.

      I second Anton's at the Swan. Another suggestion is the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville Pa. It's very romantic, beautiful views of the Delaware River, and last I heard, terrific food (have to admit we haven't eaten there in a while.) It's maybe 15-20 minutes outside of New Hope.

      Edit: I just looked over their website and in place of the hours of operation it says that they are currently only accomodating private parties. (Although they still seem to be offering a Sunday Champagne Brunch...) I don't know what's up with that, if you were interested you could always call them.

    2. We had our anniversary dinner last year at La Bonne Auberge, in New Hope. If you're looking for a special occasion place, this is definitely it!

      The cuisine served is classic French, and it is superb! The inn's interior has lovely ambiance and a beautiful setting. Unfortunately, it was raining when we were there, so we couldn't enjoy some time in the gorgeous gardens.

      Prices are very upscale, so depending on what the couple drinks, $200 may not quite cover the cost. However, I don't think a restaurant gift certificate must necessarily cover the entire bill. Even if the couple has to add a bit to it, it will certainly be far less than if they had to pay entirely out of their own pocket. Plus, because of the high prices, it may not be the kind of place your friends would ordinarily go to, and this would give them the opportunity to do so without busting their budget.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RGR

        This place looks beautiful - I think I just found my birthday dinner restaurant. Thanks!

      2. May I suggest that you consider The Harvest Moon Inn in Ringoes, which is 10-15 minutes north of Lambertville. I consider this a special occasion restaurant and I think your friends would really enjoy it. Since they live in Lambertville, they are probably already familiar with this fine restaurant.

        While I love The Blue Bottle Cafe, I don't think it really fits the bill here. It is a more casual spot and is a BYO. If your friends don't know about The Blue Bottle, make sure to tell them!

        You might also want to search "New Hope" on the Pennsylvania board but it seems there aren't too many hounds on that side of the Delaware.

        9 Replies
        1. re: ambrose

          I must vociferiously disagree about Harvest Moon. The food we had at our one dinner there was disappointing, and the dining room had drab, dated decor. In my view, nothing about the restaurant said "special occasion."

          A recent review in "The Princeton Packet" found the food to be o.k. but nothing special and reinforces my opinion of the ambiance.

          1. re: RGR

            RGR, I must just as vociferously take issue with your comments about the Harvest Moon. We have been going there for years and continue to enjoy the food, the service and the overall ambience of this restaurant.

            I just find it astonishing that you would base your opinion on a single visit that you made some ten years ago (the Moon opened in late 1995). I know you have stated elsewhere that a restaurant has but one chance to get your attention but I think this is extraordinarily short sighted. Considering that the chef at the time had just come over from the Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick and was indeed receiving rave reviews, I would have thought you might have gone back at least once more to see if your first impression was correct.

            Regarding the decor of the dining room, please remember that this restaurant is housed in a 19th century building and the owners have tried to capture the building's period. What would you have them do - decorate the interior in teak and chrome? Yes, it's dated - it's meant to be! Drab it is not.

            Finally, I think it is rather disingenuous to include a review that states right at the beginning that it is of the tavern and not the dining room. The food that you say was o.k. was actually described by the reviewer as ranging from imaginative to routine - pretty much what you'd experience in any fine restaurant. The reviewer also states that the service was polished and the desserts elegant and tasty.

            Finally, I should note that we have been to La Bonne Auberge many times and thoroughly enjoy it. On this one, you are correct.

          2. re: ambrose

            SadIy have to disagree about the Harvest Moon as well. I used to love this place, but lately the food has been slipping. And the last time we ate there, which was just a few weeks ago, it was downright bad - we were actually upset over how bad the meal was, and the service wasn't great either.

            1. re: flourgirl

              What about the Sergeantsville Inn? That's a pretty short drive from New Hope.

              1. re: flourgirl

                Hey, flourgirl, I remember your recent post about eating at The Harvest Moon. At the time, I was surprised by your comments and now that RGR reports a less than stellar experience, I reread your post. A few comments:

                We have never eaten in the tavern side of the restaurant, where you had your bad experience. The first time we went (shortly after the Moon opened) we thought the tavern WAS the restaurant and almost fled. It was very noisy (Saturday night) and the piano music was way too loud. Since that experience, I have not seen anything to change my opinion of the tavern side. I do think it's too bad that when you enter the Moon, the first thing you see is the tavern. BTW, once you're in one of the more formal dining rooms, the piano music provides a pleasant background.

                Regarding the food itself, I notice you had pasta dishes and a pizza. I don't know if all these items were from the tavern menu but I have to say that I would not go to this restaurant for this type of food. You're probably correct that you could get equally good pasta and pizza at a much less expensive restaurant.

                I believe that you can order from both the tavern menu and the more formal menu when seated in the tavern. Since you're getting your food from the same kitchen, it shouldn't matter where you sit BUT I've been told by friends (I know this is hearsay) that you won't get the same chef if seated in the tavern. This would not surprise me as I know this goes on at another well known restaurant in the county.

                The last time I was at The Harvest Moon was late February. We went on a Friday night, the place was bustling and we had a wonderful meal with the usual attentive service. Based on that experience, and many previous ones. I would recommend this place to the OP. I don't know when RGR ate there and whether it was on the tavern side or not. Hopefully she will chime in.

                1. re: ambrose

                  Chiming in... Our experience at Harvest Moon dates back several years to not long after it first opened. For us, Ringoes is about an hour's drive. We have no problem driving distances for great food, and we went because the restaurant's dining room -- which is where we ate -- had received rave reviews. That made our meal all the more disappointing. For me, a restaurant -- especially one that isn't local -- has only one chance to make a great first impression. Based on our experience, Harvest Moon didn't measure up.

                  1. re: ambrose

                    Hi ambrose -

                    Yes, the last time we ate there some of our food was ordered off of the tavern menu and some off of the dining room menu. None of it was good except my salad. I wondered if a different chef was cooking for the tavern room even if you ordered off of the dining room menu. That's interesting, if true - and aggravating. Because you are still paying the same prices for the food. Shouldn't matter which room you are sitting in - the food should be the same darn food no matter where your table is in the restaurant. So as far as I'm concerned they lose major points for that.

                    Also, we've eaten in the tavern room a few times in the past, and it was always very good, at least up until our last couple of visits. And in fact, they are known around here for their great burgers. We went to the Tavern Room precisely because you could get tasty well prepared food in a pleasant environment. Also, we could bring our son to the Tavern Room, because there were many things on the Tavern menu that he likes to eat.

                    Our visit prior to that was in June for our anniversary. We ate in the dining room. I thought my meal was very good, but my husband wasn't as happy. I forget what he ordered now. The service was very good. But the one thing that was kind of a bummer - and has happened to us every time we've eaten in the dining room recently was that there was practically NO one else in the dining room - even on a weekend night. I'm not so crazy about eating in solitary splendor like that. Everyone seems to eat in the Tavern Room these days.

                    1. re: flourgirl

                      Our one dinner there was mid-week and even back then, there was hardly anyone else in dining room. To be honest, we could care less if we're the *only* people in a restaurant as long as the cuisine shines.

                      1. re: RGR

                        I don't know, being the only people in the dining room just makes me uncomfortable. So even if the food is fabulous, the experience is diminished for me.

              2. Thank you all for the many suggestions. La Bonne Auberge looks pretty incredible. Lots of places that I personally want to try myself.

                1. I highly recommend Hamilton's Grill Room, BYOB (Lambertville), Anton's at the Swan (Lambertville), Marsha Brown's (New Hope) and Martine's (New Hope). All excellent options.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: kscams

                    was there this past weekend. both hamiltons grill room & marsha browns are excellent choices.

                    1. re: TBird

                      I have always enjoyed Hamilton's grill room. We haven't been there in a while though, and some other threads here on CH have suggested that the restaurant is slipping. What did you have that you liked so much? And how was the service?

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        the service was fine(saturday night crowd and all!), and i had the lamb with mustard sauce. brought in a kosta browne & a melville pinot noir. perfect!

                        on another note, the blue tortillo(new hope) allows you to byob tequila, they sell you the virgin margarita mix($19 a pitcher).

                        1. re: TBird

                          I wouldn't publicize that fact too much as I believe it is highly against the BYOB laws to allow anything but beer or wine.

                          1. re: taboni

                            they have a big sign out front for all to see.....

                            1. re: TBird

                              Perhaps, but this is a section copied from the NJ ABC handbook for retail liquor licensees

                              EDIT: Of course PA laws may be different

                              Unless there is a local ordinance prohibiting it, customers of an unlicensed restaurant may be permitted by
                              the ownership of the restaurant to bring and consume only wine and beer. The restaurant can supply glasses,
                              ice, etc., but may not impose a cover, corkage or service charge. Also, under no circumstances may
                              spirituous liquors be permitted. There may be no advertising whatsoever of the fact that wine or beer may
                              be permitted. Additionally, the owner may not permit wine or beer to be consumed during hours in which
                              the sale of these products is prohibited by licensees in that municipality, nor allow consumption of beer or
                              wine by persons under 21 years or by persons who are actually or apparently drunk or intoxicated. (N.J.S.A.

                              1. re: taboni

                                "Of course PA laws may be different"

                                ding ding ding we have a winner :-)