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Nov 23, 2008 05:12 PM

Inn of the Hawke - Underrated?

One thing that has struck me on this board is that when talk turns to Lambertville, one of my favorite restaurants is usually unmentioned. It's my default, go-to place in Lambertville. I will grant that it is sometimes inconsistent (steak has been tough and apple crisp has been slightly burnt), with slow service, but generally I know I can find something satisfying there. I love the atmosphere, the prices are reasonable, and the service is unfailingly friendly. They also are very accommodating to large parties, whether you're having a sit-down dinner or just gathering at the bar. And I've had far more great nights there than not-great nights.

I stopped in today and had an excellent creamy tomato soup and one of the tastiest roast beef sandwiches I've ever had.

I mean it's definitely not haute cuisine, but I almost always come away satisfied and happy, with a generally pleasant experience. It's also the only place all my friends can generally agree on when we have to meet somewhere.

So I guess I'm curious what the strikes against it actually are.

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  1. An excellent question. We have been to just about every place in Lambertville except Inn of the Hawke.
    No reason why, just seem to forget its there. Need to change that with a visit next time we're out there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tom246

      Tom, I think you're right. I too "just seem to forget its there". It's off the beaten path and is therefore known mainly to locals or to people who read boards like this one. The casual visitor to Lambertville is unlikely to discover the Hawke.

      I think I will also make an effort to go there next time I'm in Lambertville.

    2. The "strikes against it" was stated in your paragraph above, Heatherb "it's definately not haute cuisine"

      The Inn of the Hawke is underrated because haute cuisine is overrated. Too many people - and most food & restaurant critics - are "bring-n-brag" diners - they only approve of the trendiest, most expensive, most exclusive places . They seek an elevated sense of self by affiliating themselves with the trendiest, most expensive, most exclusive places. The very term "haute cuisine" refers to its snobbishness of being higher (above) non-haute cuisine - those who affiliate themselves with haute cuisine are by definition looking down at those places that are not part of the exclusive inner circle.

      Bluntly, those folks have achieved their high school need - eating at the table with the "in-crowd" - it's an ego boost, something you don't get from a place like the Inn of the Hawke.

      As you said - dining at the Inn of the Hawke leaves you "satisfied and happy" which ain't too shabby.

      1. My husband and I used to go there fairly often. I'm not really sure why it fell off our radar, but you have inspired me to head back there again. :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: flourgirl

          Oh good - I'm terrified they'll close in the current economy!

        2. The Inn has been there a long time and will most likely not close. My wife and I actually stayed there for a couple nights a few years ago an like it very much. We did not have dinner but did have lunch each day and it was excellent. What they do have going for them is by far one of the best bars in Jersey.

          1. The following review of the Inn of the Hawke appeared in this week's "Time Off", a supplement of several central New Jersey weeklies. I don't think the review will bring in many new customers.


            3 Replies
            1. re: ambrose

              You're right - this review probably won't help to bring in new customers who are looking for a great restaurant experience. Personally I never thought of the Inn that way and probably wouldn't order most of the dishes that the reviewer wrote about in this article at this particular dining establishment. This place really is a pub first and foremost and when I go to these kinds of places I tend to stick to pub-type food. Not that I'm saying that it's OK to put things on your menu that really aren't very good - they're clearly over-reaching on some of these dishes and should, perhaps, reconsider the wisdom of doing so. That said, the wise and seasoned diner acknowledges the reality of the type of establishment they have chosen and order accordingly. I stil think the Inn has a terrific atmosphere and this review won't deter me from heading back there. Hmmm, maybe even this weekend....

              1. re: flourgirl

                I also read that review, felt it was a bit off in it's description and agree I go there for pub food and not full dinners. Even the picture did not capture the real feel of the place.That said I've been with others that have had dinners and they enjoyed them. I also like that's it's a bit out of the downtown so it's easier to park nearby. Don't find many spots like it in the area with decent (and not the usual fried) pub food so I enjoy it. Bell's on the other side of town (bar, some sandwiches, very good dinnners) is also a local, excellent spot to check out.

                1. re: giant99

                  My rule with Inn of the Hawke is generally to avoid any attempts at Asian cuisine or seafood (although sometimes there's a home run with the seafood, according to some of my friends) and stick with the basic pub food and stuff like steaks, chicken and pork - it's just where their strengths lie. They have been doing pork tenderloin in an apple brandy cream sauce - with some variations - these past couple of weeks that is very tasty. (I've been back multiple times in the past month because my boyfriend loves the place and it is the only restaurant we can seem to find that his mother enjoys. Neither are very adventurous with regard to food, and there is always something on the menu for them, even though it is constantly changing.) And, once again, every time I am there I am struck by how great the servers and other staff are. The friendliness and enthusiasm is genuine, and they go out of their way to deliver a little personal touch (such as the woman behind the bar who puts shamrock designs in the foam of the Guinness when she serves it and the candle that was put in my boyfriend's ice cream on his birthday).
                  All that said, I am also eager to try Bell's, which I think suffers from some of the same problems as the Inn of the Hawke in terms of awareness.