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Jul 4, 2008 09:25 AM

The Ferry House Princeton NJ

The Ferry House has become a anniversary tradition for us. We actually like some other restaurants more but you can't fight tradition :))
We thought last night, day before the holiday would be a good night and we were right. Normally this place is packed every night but was 3/4 filled last night.
Started with: Warm wild mushroom and field green salad was a nice savory slant to the salad. This has been a staple of the menu for a few years.
Crab tacos were mini tacos stuffed with crab, again designed around a salad.
Starters were both very good.
Crispy rolls are served with a garlic herb butter.

Mains were: Sliced duck breast and a duck taco over infused mashed potatoes and stir fried veggies in a port reduction.
Other entree was a "surf and turf" special of lamb loin with shrimp and scallops over truffle oil mashed potatoes and veggies.
Both entrees were hearty, flavorful and satisfying. Chef Trigg serves food in the Flay style.
Shared a dessert of pineapple upside down cake, topped with cinnamon ice cream.
Nice way to end the meal. I had decanted a 2001 Quilceda Creek Cab earlier in the afternoon which was excellent.

When we first went to The Ferry House in Lambertville back in the early 90s Chef Trigg's cuisine was considered bold and daring. Fast forward 15 years and not much has changed. No longer is the food bold and daring but he has managed to keep the menu updated, items change and all the dishes are always properly spiced and flavorful.
Reservations are recommended well in advance as this is a very popular restaurant.

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  1. Happy Anniversary, tom246! And thanks for this report.

    I think you make a very good point about Trigg's cuisine being "bold and daring" when he first opened in Lambertville. His inventiveness is the reason we used travel the fair distance to Lambertville to dine at The Ferry House. We've never eaten at the Princeton location. Even if he is no longer "leader of the pack," you've got me thinking that, perhaps, we should give The Ferry House a try again.

    13 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Thanks RGR, the years are rolling by :) Your right, back in the Lambertville days The Ferry House stood out as a dining destination.
      In Princeton Chef Trigg has been able to mix things up enough to stay current. I go there a few times during the year mainly for business and the food and service is always consistent.
      Servers are very efficient and friendly and the plating and presentation appealing. Plus the dishes alwayd have a slight kick without being over the top.

      A great day in Princeton is to visit the Princeton University Art Museum which has many treasures due to some huge endowments (10s of millions) and then follow up with dinner at The Ferry House.

      1. re: tom246

        I had no idea that Princeton U. has an art museum. Thanks for that info, Tom.

        Btw, wasn't Trigg supposed to be taking over the restaurant at the Peacock Inn?

        1. re: RGR

          The art museum is definitely worth a visit. I think you will be quite amazed. You could also consider a concert at the Richardson Auditorium (don't let the name fool you), an intimate concert hall on campus where the NJSO often performs. The last time we went, the Vienna Choir Boys were performing.

          Regarding the restaurant at the Peacock Inn, you are quite correct. I don't know what's happened there. Perhaps someone who lives closer to Princeton can bring us up to date. Here's the last information I had:

          1. re: ambrose

            Thanks for the concert info, ambrose. I shall look into that.

            I agree it would be great to have an update on the Peacock Inn restaurant situation from someone close to the scene.

            1. re: ambrose

              Chef Trigg is now General Contractor Trigg! Construction continues at a snail's pace on the Peacock Inn redo. A recent article in the Princeton Packet said the initial expectation was to open fall 2006, then 2007 now 2008.

              The delays were said to be due to the numerous state permits required since the building project is larger than what is controlled at the township level. Evidently the state permitting process is rather lethargic. Also the building presented a number of structural surprises due to the age and history necessitating additional work.

              Also of note, Chef Trigg has purchased the old Charlie Brown's at the Palmer Inn (Clarion Hotel) on Route 1 South. He's redoing the restaurant into a bistro. No date on expected opening.

              1. re: Foody4life

                Thanks for the update, foody.

                On a somewhat related topic, isn't there (or wasn't there) another upscale restaurant in the works for Princeton? I seem to recall reading something a year or so ago, possibly in the Packet or even here on the forum. I think the place in question was a new restaurant, not a redo of an old one.

                1. re: ambrose

                  There's a lot on the horizon for new Princeton places, including:

                  -- JL Ivy, just opened last month in the old Rusty Scupper, Princeton. Going thru the start up process. Lots of potential. See related post on this board regarding.

                  -- Ruth's Chris Steak, completing construction, soon to open in Forrestal Village (Plainsboro) just off the Route 1 South, Westin entrance.

                  -- Eno Terra, soon to open in the old Winepress (Kingston). Owned by the Momo brothers who own Terresa's, Mediterra and Witherspoon Bread company in Princeton. Eno Terra will be a wine bar and restaurant. Construction looks complete. Heard they may have a delayed 2008 opening due to some site problems.

                  -- Elements. Route 206 (Bayard Lane), Princeton. Scott Anderson (previously consulting at One53, and prior at Lawrenceville Inn, Mediterra, Ryland Inn, Les Copains and others) will be the exectutive chef. New building is under construction. Looks like a late 2008 opening may be possible. Cuisine will be upscale fresh and local new american with tasting menus, a chef's table in the kitchen, ect. Looks to be targeting Nicholas in all aspects (now RGR & Bgut will have another reason to come to this area!).

                  -- BT20, Bobby Triggs redo of the Peacock Inn, Princeton.

                  -- BT Bistro, Bobby Triggs redo of the Charlie Browns, West Windsor.

                  and finally,

                  -- Dunkin Donuts, under construction at the Princeton Shopping Center!!

                  Lot's for the hounds to look forward to!

                  1. re: Foody4life

                    Hey, Foodie,

                    Thanks for that detailed update of what's to come in Princeton.

                    With regard to Elements, if our one experience at One 53 is anything to judge by, I think Anderson will have a long way to go to match Nicholas. That said, I would certainly welcome having another restaurant of that high caliber available to us, so I hope Anderson does deliver it and wish him the very best of luck.

                    1. re: RGR

                      Foody - If Mr. Anderson is in fact involved with Elements, I will surely make the trek back to Princeton. Unlike my good friend RGR (who's opinion I tremendously respect BTW) I greatly enjoyed my meal at One53. That all being said, IAWR that it would take a bit of leap for Mr. Anderson to emulate the cuisine, service and ambiance of Restaurant Nicholas. However, I am looking forward to his attempt.

                      1. re: bgut1

                        Right back at you, b! :-) But just to remind you, when I reported on our meal at One 53, what I said was while the food was fine, it was not rave-worthy.

                        Irrespective of our differing opinions regarding One 53, obviously, we both agree that Elements' attempt at matching every aspect of the Nicholas experience is going to take a whole lot of doing!


                        Note to Foody: My apologies for misspelling your name. :-(

                        1. re: RGR

                          I think the entire experience of elements will be quite different than that of Nicholas.

                    2. re: Foody4life

                      Elements is the particular restaurant I was thinking of. Thanks. Before you posted the above information, I did some searching and saw that I had indeed read about Elements in one of your previous posts.

                      Good to know about Dunkin Donuts! Now I can get a decent cup of coffee before loading up on goodies at Bon Appetit!

                      1. re: ambrose

                        Congrats on the anniversary Tom! And great choice with the QC!

                        We haven't been to The Ferry House in at least a year. Sounds like we need to go back and re-visit so we can do a review for the blog! It was great last time we were there! -mJ

        2. Fast forward about a year and we were back to The Ferry House last night and not much has changed. That is both good and not so good.
          The room is getting dated, it could use some sprucing up. The menu has not changed in many years except for a couple of specials. The food is good, some very good and it has become obvious that regulars are content with the same familiar dishes.

          I was determined to try something different from the starter menu. I ordered the fried calamari with soy glaze, sweet peppers and pesto drizzle. The calamari rings were chewy but the flavors were nice. Unfortunately toward the bottom of the bowl a pool of oil turned everything soggy.
          DW had the firecracker shrimp on Thai cabbage slaw with Oriental BBQ glaze. This dish had a nice mix of texture and flavor.
          Entrees were a grilled filet over a portabella mushroom and creamed leeks and potatoes. Medium rare as requested and tender.
          A special of nicely grilled shrimp, scallops mounded over pulled pork stole the show. Great mix of flavors, the smoky pork worked really well with the seafood. We split a sampler dessert of pecan tart with cinnamon ice cream, flourless chocolate cake and their signature creme brulee. The small samples of each was just enough. A 2001 Darenberg shiraz was still young but very tasty.
          In summary, we had a good meal but the special stood above the other dishes proving that Chef Trigg can still deliver new ideas.
          We have always enjoyed The Ferry House going back to their days in Lambertville, hopefully they will keep pace in the future by changing things up a bit.

          5 Replies
          1. re: tom246

            Excellent report, as usual, Tom. We still haven't made it there. Trigg is busy with a couple of other Princeton ventures, so could be he is not giving The Ferry House the attention it deserves in terms of freshening both the interior and the menu.

            1. re: tom246

              Thanks for the report. The special sounds fabulous!

              I recently started working out in Princeton, and live around the corner from the Ferry House. The menu looks good, but I agree with your assessment of the room, it could definitely use a touch.

              So far I've had a few good meals in Princeton - Ajihei sushi, Conte's pizza, and Blue Water Grill (although a tad pricier than it should be) are the three that standout. Few clunkers in there also. Witherspoon Grill & Alchemist & Barrister are just ok, but I like the bar at Witherspoon in relation to other places to watch a game/hang at the bar. Any other bar places that are nice (keep in mind walking distance)?

              1. re: metfan630

                Triumph Brewery has a selection of hand crafted brews. Place is attractive.

                1. re: tom246

                  yeah I have been there w a friend twice - we had fun. And it does seem to be popular. Havent eaten there yet though.

                  1. re: tom246

                    As always tom246, a great review. Zelda and I really need to get back to the Ferry House! That was one of our first stops the first month that we started dating. Even funnier however is the Triumph mention here, as that is where we went on our first date together. Boy how time flies! Hard to believe that it was almost 7 years ago now! WOW! Happy belated anniversary to you and DW. Look forward to seeing you both soon!

                    Ferry House
                    32 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ 08542