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Dennis Foy - Lawrenceville Inn? Anyone been there?

We were fans of Dennis Foy's in Pt. Pleasant Beach and were very disappointed when it closed. I heard from a friend that he and his wife have opened at the Lawrenceville Inn and had a nice opening weekend. Just wondering if anyone's been there and if the menu is anything like the Pt. Pleasant Beach one? I couldn't find a website.

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  1. Dennis Foy is old school. His place in Manasquan was only open a month and that is where all his customers are from. If the didnt drive to Manasqaun, why does he think he will do good in Lawerenceville?

    13 Replies
    1. re: NJDolfan

      Have any of his restaurants remained open successfully? His NYC place is closed as is the Bistro in Manasquan.

      1. re: bfl13

        I can't speak to the Bistro in Manasquan because I never ate there. The NYC place closing, in my opinion, was a combination of 2 things - the location was not the greatest and, like a whole lot of other restaurants, not just in NYC, but all over the country, the economic conditions. Having eaten in most of the BYOs in the Lawrenceville/Princeton/Hopewell area, I think he'd fit in pretty well and it looks like his pricing is also pretty good for the area. Have you eaten there or are you relying on the opinions of others?

        1. re: bucksguy14

          Sorry he has an old following from Bay Head area. He cant succeed in NYC, and the following didnt follow him 1 mile north to Manasquan.
          Time for him to turn in the apron for the paint brush.

          1. re: NJDolfan

            Actually in the early 90s he ran Townsquare in Chatham for over 5 years. It was actually a destination place that we traveled from Monmouth County to get to. Was never able to figure out what his seemingly schizophrenic dabbling down at the shore was supposed to be about...

            1. re: equal_Mark

              And before that, the legendary Tarragon Tree. Hard to believe that it's 35 years since the Tree opened!

            2. re: NJDolfan

              I still don't understand where you're coming from! What is it about his restaurant, or cooking, or whatever that you consider "old school"?

              1. re: bucksguy14

                I don't know about "old school", but I was just curious how a chef could have such a great reputation when so many of his restaurant projects have closed the doors.

                1. re: bfl13

                  Toni Froio still has a reputation, though as far as I know she's not done much of note since she left Farmingdale House like 15 or 20 years ago...

                  1. re: equal_Mark

                    Toni works for Brandl once a month for a "night with Toni"
                    She also had worked at I Cavelini in Colts Neck a few years ago.

                    1. re: kingsurf

                      I don't understand the problem.
                      Both things NJDolfan said were true.
                      Toni cooks at Brandl once a month, and at one time, 'was' at I Cavelini.
                      I thought Nancy Rios owned Casa Solar.

                      1. re: rickster71

                        Rickster, you are correct about Nancy.
                        were you on her black list too?

                      2. re: NJDolfan

                        Must be the one night a month they cut the portions in half...

          2. My husband and I had dinner with some friends at the Lawrenceville Inn this past Saturday. The food was very good. Highlights included butternut squash soup, fettucini carbonara, grilled veal chop, salmon, apple tart and chocolate mousse. Portions of some of the dishes (like the salmon and scallops) were on the small side and my husband left the restaurant still feeling hungry. Two of the four rooms were open-one of the rooms shared space with the kitchen so you were basically eating a few feet away from the chef and kitchen staff. I prefered the other room away from the kitchen. The service was spotty. Our waitress was not as familiar with the menu as she should have been and had a hard time answering questions. We also had to request things like silverware, water and milk for the coffee several times before we actually got them. On the up side, we were there for almost 3 hours and never felt rushed. One final thought...the restaurant had only been open a week and I was surprised that no one such as the chef/owner/manager came over to greet us, see how our food was, etc. In fact, while going to the bathroom I slipped on the wet/slippery floor in front of the entire kichen staff and not a single person came to my aid or asked if I was ok. Not the best way to build a clientale.

            1. I am very surprised that Dennis Foy and Estella are opening another restaurant after spectacle of their Manasquan bistro. I ate at Beach Monkey Bistro once. The food was mediocre, which is unacceptable given the high prices, ($7.00 for an omlette that made my plate look like a continent!) the service was terrible- it seemed like the staff had no training, and from the open kitchen I could hear Dennis Foy himself cursing away at his staff and grumbling about the customers.

              I wonder if this place will last a month, too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: thumbprinter

                Couple of questions, since I'm interested in Princeton area BYOs. Are they open for lunches? And, what did you have to eat?

                1. re: RAGHOUND

                  They're supposed to start serving lunch today. I

              2. You tell me: they were out of 3 of the 5 menu entrees and it took an hour to get served while Mrs. Foy lectured the 2 wait staff on customer service. Believe me, they weren't that busy.

                A bit pricey, which is too bad, since I had high hopes. Suggest you walk around the corner to Vidalia, where I always have great food and a good time, or drive to Leonardo's (used to be Lamberti's) on Business Rte. 1 and Whitehead Rd., where food is spectacular and prices unnecessarily low.

                1. Let me begin by saying that I really wanted to like this place, no strike that, I wanted to love it... Close to my house, renouned chef, beautiful building; our experience had serious potential.

                  We were seated promptly in the downstairs dining room (not the kitchen). The furniture was the first thing to make us raise an eyebrow. I felt like I was eating in a teacher's lounge, no tablecloths, no flowers, a few pictures and what appeared to be a large tan carpet hanging on the wall. Getting past the physical decor, we were rather annoyed by the noise. There were only two other tables seated in the room, but every conversation echoed off the walls and made it hard to enjoy your own company, again no tableclothes to absorb any noise, maybe that's what the carpet on the wall was for...

                  Our waiter approaches, "Hi Guys, I'm Jeff and I'll be taking care of you". First off, I'm not a guy and secondly I am not in need of a nurse so no need to take 'care' of me. I know I'm nitpicking, but I really long for the old days of professional service in fine restaurants where it wasn't some prepubescent lad pushing bottled water on me just to up the check. This was the only time that we spoke to our waiter before being presented with dessert menus. Not once did anyone ask us how we were enjoying the food eventhough all but one plate went to the dishroom half full.

                  The menu reads well, and I am sure that if Mr. Foy had been there, it might have tasted nicely as well, but his skills with painting and cooking have not transferred to his ability to teach people how to cook. We began with the foie gateau and mushroom soup. The foie mousse in the bottom of an oversized onion soup crock had a grainy texture and was served with two tiny little toast points. Both dishes lacked depth of flavor and were completely void of any seasoning. No wonder the salt and pepper on the table were almost empty... Hub went for a bolognese midcourse, $15 for a pathetically small bowl of overly thick and under textured fettucine. The sauce was nice, but again required a bit of doctoring with the S&P. I tried the butternut squash soup I had read about. For me, it tasted like an overly sweet pie filling. Garnished with pumpkin seeds, that sounded nice, but the pumpkin seeds, unhulled and untoasted were chewy to the point of being inedible.

                  Entrees, the loup de mer (bronzino in italia) was prepared nicely, all 4 ounces of it, yes really, 4 ounces... A little more help from the salt and pepper and we were good to go. The daube of beef as tender but bland. It was one flat note... A carrot puree must have been made with the biggest most flavorless carrots ever, as there was a heaping ton of this baby food textured substance under the beef, but again, flavorless. We skipped dessert after having a look and reading "Local, wild berries". Does anyone know where this magical berry patch is that keeps growing in the snow?

                  In a nut shell, dissapointing. I'm sure we will try again some day, and I hope I can delete this review of such a poor experience.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: fletchphil

                    fletchphil - Thank you for the excellent review.

                    1. re: fletchphil

                      Ok, now I know to avoid the place, but the pumpkin seeds triggered a traumatic flashback to the other night I was at Princeton's Triumph Brewery. I had a butternut squash soup garnished with ... the seeds from the squash. They were over-toasted, and generally icky. I LOVE pumpkin seeds (was just snacking on them), but butternut squash seeds? No thanks! Or am I missing out on something?

                      1. re: fletchphil

                        That is about what I would expect given our past experience at Foy's and Bay Pointe Prime, two of his past endevors.

                        Chapel Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302

                        1. re: fletchphil

                          Interesting to note your comment about the noise in the downstairs dining room.

                          We ate upstairs in what looked to be a converted bedroom, back when it was the L'ville Inn. Room was full... maybe 6 tables and maybe 10-14 people total. It was so loud that I literally could not hear the waiter and had a headache upon leaving. Had to read lips to converse across the table, most of the evening. Never went back as the food could not offset the ambiance. You wonder if chef/owners ever dine in their own rooms to get the customer's perspective. It's not all about the food! : )

                        2. Two things to think about with this restaurant (I have not been there yet)

                          1) The chef is currently "away at school" or taking a class or something (as of today's writing, and is not in the kitchen cooking)

                          2) There were several ads on the Craigslist "Help Wanted" section for the restaurant, hiring pretty much all positions....

                          So, for a restaurant having been open for only a few months, what kind of chef is NOT in the kitchen, AND is hiring a new staff to boot?

                          I will go try it.... one day....

                          1. Generally favorable review of Dennis Foy Restaurant in last week's Princeton Packet:


                            The reviewer mentions that "the kitchen is held down by Executive Sous Chef Michael Metzner, who was most recently at the acclaimed Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank". There has been some speculation about Foy's role in the kitchen so this would indicate that he is not actively involved in the cooking side of the operation.

                            1. Unfortunately we ate there and it seemed inconsistent as another place, Rocky Hill Inn. Princeton area needs some good restaurants. The service was slow, our food was not cooked properly. I had heard others say similar things. The menu is boring, as well as the furniture does not fit the setting. We will not return, even if they changed owners as we feel in the other Rocky Hill place.

                              1. We've eaten there a few times and I have to say each time I think the food is better. The soups (especially the mushroom) are exceptional. The past weekend we had 4 apps and 3 main courses and all were delicious. I enjoy the atmosphere - small rooms and enjoyable art on the walls. It's a but echo-y because of the wood floors, but not terrible. we have found the service to be attentive and courteous.

                                Lawrenceville Inn
                                2691 Main St, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648

                                1. The best thing Dennis Foy ever did was hire John Livera because the Montville Inn rocks.

                                  Montville Inn
                                  167 Main Rd, Montville, NJ 07045

                                  1. This restaurant has closed and the building is for sale:

                                    Lawrenceville Inn
                                    2691 Main St, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: tenorcnj

                                      This location is surely cursed! Three restaurants - or is it four? - in the last few years.


                                      1. re: ambrose

                                        Too bad for Dennis. I was a huge fan of his "Tarragon Tree" many years back. When the Lawrenceville Inn first opened, we went five times in the first 18 months. The chef's name was LeClerc...something. It was really excellent, with polished waitstaff. Worth the cost. But we realized the ambiance was tough because this is a house. The rooms held only a few tables each. We like a large, lively dining room. I don't think this area can support another white tablecloth restaurant. Especially if lacking........anything! I do not forsee anyone else taking it over with thoughts of a restaurant.

                                        Lawrenceville Inn
                                        2691 Main St, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648

                                      2. re: tenorcnj

                                        As of Monday July 18 2011 - The message on the machine does not say anything about them being closed, still lists dinner hours. I'm pretty sure they were open this past weekend as well.

                                        1. re: ChefSeth

                                          Sorry, not the case. Coming back from the shore last evening, his sign was replaced by one from Calloway Realty. Outside tables and chairs remain, but they are naked.

                                          1. re: chefdaddyo

                                            Oh well... that was pretty quick then.

                                          2. re: ChefSeth

                                            It had a "For Sale" sign out front yesterday and looked pretty much shut down. I'll press my nose to the window and if I see anything different I'll let you know, but Callaway does not go around town putting up signs on the spur-of-the-moment.

                                            1. re: PrincetonEater

                                              Read back five posts. tenorcnj sings correctly showing the actual listing by Calloway.

                                              1. re: chefdaddyo

                                                Outside, the "For Sale" sign says, "Commercial or Residential," so they don't expect the restaurant to continue (yes, patio tables and chairs still are in the yard). Inside, it looks pretty much cleared out and somebody is painting. Alas, Vidalia around the corner has begun to suffer from bad service, too. Treat yourself and go to Leonardo's II several miles down Business Rte. 1 at Whitehead Rd. It's hard to spend more than $15 on an entree and salad, much less for lunch. We always call ahead, just in case.

                                                1. re: PrincetonEater

                                                  Dennis Foy's CLOSED in July 2011.

                                                  The original owners of the Lawrenceville Inn are back and plan to open a flower shop~cafe called "Buds & Bowls"...soup, salads, sammies...and flowers, of course!...The menu features mostly gluten free goodies...cupcakes, cookies, muffins, etc...with some "regular bread" for the sammies...as well as GF bread for those who prefer it.
                                                  Ingredients will be Local, Organic and "clean"...
                                                  Lunch Tues-Sat open from 11-4
                                                  PLANNED OPENING DAY: Tuesday November 29th 2011.

                                                  Lawrenceville Inn
                                                  2691 Main St, Lawrence Township, NJ 08648