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Apr 2, 2008 04:47 PM

Business Dinner in Princeton, NJ Area [Moved from Tristate Region board]

I have to take out clients and their wives out this Saturday night in the Princeton, NJ area. I am looking for a place with great food, nice ambiance, and the price doesn't matter (big time clients and it's on the company). Not interested in Indian food or anything spicy...

Foodies...any thoughts?



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    1. There's a lot of mediocrity in Princeton with not much rising to the top.

      I'd recommend going to One 53 in Rocky Hill, just north of Princeton. If your group is larger than 4, you should call and request to be seated in their wine cellar - a semi-private dining area that would work out well:

      Other places in Princeton include the Witherspoon Grill (steaks, etc.), Lahiere's and the Ferry House - all on Witherspoon Street. Check out the posting for "Princeton Gems" to get a perspective on these and other local spots:

      1. I would not take "big time clients" to One 53. The food's not all that great, seating is too close to be very comfortable, and the overall ambiance is nothing special.

        I really don't think there is any place in Princeton where I would want to host important clients. In my view, to find that level of restaurant, you would have to go to New Brunswick.

        12 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          RGR, what do you think about Rat's for that then? I know the food is not necessarily spectacular enough to justify the prices, but unless these people are real foodies, they will be pretty impressed. Atmosphere and all...

          1. re: RGR

            I agree with RGR that seating at One 53 is tight, hence the suggestion to reserve their wine cellar. Food is on par with the best Princeton has to offer but as stated above: Princeton dining = a lot of mediocrity!

            Not knowing how far the original poster is willing to travel, my picks for a knock out client dinner would include:

            -- Lorena's in Maplewood
            -- Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster
            -- Nicholas in Red Bank (yes RGR it's on my go to list :) )
            -- Due Terre in Bernardsville

            None terribly convenient to Princeton, but all at the top of the list for a superior dining experience.

            1. re: Foody4life

              We haven't been to Pluckemin yet, but it's on *my* go-to list. :-)

              Due Terre is *not* on the list for one major reason -- the hideously high noise level which was reported by mmgpsych. And that, in my view, should completely eliminate it as a place to take clients.

              One thing about Lorena's. Though it is stellar in every respect, I think the fact that it's a BYO could make it problematical for some as a place for a client dinner.

              Nicholas would, of course, be perfect! :-))

              1. re: RGR

                I wouldn't be worried about Lorena's being a BYO. If you bring a few quality reds and whites you'll still be saving tonnages of money even if you bring nearly twice the number of bottles you'd have to order at, say, Nicholas.
                RGR: Did you know that George is no longer at Lorena's? But they now have two French-fluent waiters-- one born in France, the other an Iranian transplant in France before coming here-- and the four of us lit the place up with the langauge. Great fun, but we still miss George. :::sigh:::

                1. re: mmgpsych

                  What happened to George? Do you know where he went?

                  1. re: bgut1

                    Lorena told me but I'll be damned if I remember. I don't think it was to anywhere local. It was a parting on good terms, as far as I could tell. Still, you'll rarely find a maitre d'/waiter who looks like Ben Kingsley and has the charm and style of George Sanders. He'll be missed.

                  2. re: mmgpsych

                    Oh, no! mmgpsych. We haven't been to Lorena's so far this year, so George's departure is news to us. :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-(

                    1. re: RGR

                      His last day was Saturday March 22. When we showed up Thursday March 27, and inquired about his absence . . .

                      1. re: mmgpsych

                        Since we had pretty much gone through the fall/winter menu, we were waiting until Humberto switched to dishes. Now that he has, we'll probably start going again sometime soon.

                        The new staff members will give me the opportunity to brush up on my French. But, without George, it will never be quite the same....

                2. re: Foody4life

                  Just curious, the title of the thread reads "Princeton area" and places like Lorena's in Maplewood or Nicholas in Middletown are suggested.

                  Why not suggest places in NYC or Philadelphia, not much difference in time to get there :)))

                  BTW we do love Lorena's


                  1. re: tom246

                    didn't suggest places in NYC or Philly cause they'd have to be posted on other boards! :)

                    Plus living in the "Princeton area" for many years, we'd rather travel 40+ mins for a weekend fine dining experience then spend similar $'s in the area for another helping of just OK dining.

                3. re: RGR

                  I will second Foody4Life's recommendation of the wine cellar in One53. While I agree with RGR that the main space is too cramped for a client dinner, The wine cellar would be perfect for a small group. As far as the food, while clearly not anywhere close to the level of Lorena's or Nicholas, I enjoyed my one meal there last year.
                  Tom246 also makes some excellent recommendations. While I've only been to one of them (Acacia - several years back) , many if not all have been positively reviewed on this board and elsewhere. Good luck with your dinner.

                4. My first choice would be The Blue Bottle Cafe in Hopewell, about a 15-20 minute ride from Princeton.
                  Hands down the best food in the area and one of the best in NJ. Its BYO, not sure if thats a problem but if your clients like wine, its a great chance to buy some nice bottles to impress them.
                  Only problem is you probably won't get a reservation. You normally need to reserve a few weeks in advance.

                  My second choice would be The Ferry House in Princeton. Also BYO.

                  My third choice would be Acacia on Rt 206 in Lawrenceville about 10 minutes from Princeton. Previous visits have been good but haven't been in two years.

                  One last place that I have not been to but some think very highly of is The Lawrenceville Inn which is also on Rt 206 about 10 minutes from Princeton and offers an almost "private" dining experience.

                  Websites are:

                  Let us know where you go.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tom246

                    I believe the Lawrenceville Inn just closed it's doors.
                    The Blue Bottle Cafe is great, but a long wait for reservations on a weekend.
                    The Daryl Wine Bar in New Brunswick is fabulous! The ambience, the food, the something you'd find in NYC.

                    1. re: crtny

                      The Lawrenceville Inn has not closed but it has changed big time. As noted on the web site, the Inn now caters to business events and private parties. If the OP has 10 or more people at his business dinner, he might give them a call.


                  2. Take the trip up to New Brunswick and go to Stage Left.