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The Peacock Inn, Princeton

The Peacock Inn restaurant is anticipated to open May 1st at the recently rebuilt, restored and reopened Peacock Inn in Princeton. The boutique luxury hotel and the bar are currently open.

According to the current edition of Princeton Magazine, Chef Manuel Perez, formerly of Le Bernardin in Manhattan and more recently Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank will be in charge of the kitchen. The cuisine will be New American with an international flair.

We welcome the much anticipated return of dining at The Peacock Inn.

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  1. Has anyone been there? We are scheduled to go tonight.

    13 Replies
    1. re: scarlet knight

      Just a couple of days ago I was wondering why there haven't been any posts about The Peacock Inn. It is definitely on my go-to list (along with about two dozen other places!).

      Rosie Saferstein had a few comments about this restaurant in a recent blog post. It's not really a review but still might be of interest to you:

      http://njmonthly.com/blogs/tablehopwi...

      1. re: ambrose

        we look forward to going in a couple weeks. hope scarlet posts a review.

        1. re: Foody4life

          Wife and I have been there twice now. Our first visit was great food, overbearing service. The second visit was exceptional service, very good food. My biggest complaint is with the temperature of the food, nothing was truly 'hot'. The suckling pig entree was one of the best I have ever had; the flavors were well defined and seamlessly integrated. Desserts are also excellent. The foie gras was mediocre, overpriced and not deveined very well. The wine list is small but interesting, and quite reasonably priced for the selections that I recognized. The dining room is georgous, comfortable and not too tight. They are off to an excellent start.

      2. re: scarlet knight

        Did a quick search and found that the Star-Ledger printed a review yesterday, July 9! Unfortunately, it's a typical SL review with minimal solid information.

        http://www.nj.com/entertainment/dinin...

        1. re: ambrose

          I agree, I read it and it is not very informative. No wonder newspapers are going out of business. I will post my notes soon and I aspire to do better than the Star-Ledger, but admit that will not be hard.

          1. re: ambrose

            I disagree about the "Star-Ledger" review. I happen to think Cody Kendall is quite a good reviewer and in this one has done an excellent job providing a detailed description of what can be expected when dining there, including mentioning the type of music they play. I hope they get the message and get rid of it!

            We ate once at the Peacock Inn in its previous life. Don't remember much about the food though I have a vague recollection of a rack of lamb. In any case, based on this review as well as Rosie's post, I've put the new Peacock Inn on my "go to" list.

            1. re: RGR

              Gosh, I haven't eaten there since, oh, 1994 or so, so I guess that counts as its "previous life" as well.

              1. re: Mr. Bingley

                We ate at the Peacock Inn last night and it was very good. The atmosphere is very nice. It is an old mansion/inn, so the dining rooms are homey, cozy and spacious. We were in the room in front and there was a great distance betweentables. This made conversation easy and it reduced noise from other tables.

                On to the food. Very good! My wife and I started with a corn soup that had roasted corn in it. Tasted great, had depth of flavor. My entree was organic roasted chicken. I received cylinders of white meat chicken that was moist and flavorful and more than I could eat. At $25, not bad for a high end restaurant. It was served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes which I liked and some fried wild mushrooms, which I didn't like because I'm not a fan of fried food---therewas nothing wrong with it. Overall, a winning dish.

                My wife had halibut with a sauce that included chorizo and shrimp. She thought that the sauce jazzed up the staid halibut and she enjoyed it. The restaurant owner/manager said that they tried to rotate it off the menu, but had to bring it back due to popular demand.

                Others at our table had the shelled lobster and a filet mignon. It looked good, I tasted the lobster and it was fine.

                Desserts were modern and artfully presented. Wide varieties of coffee and tea

                -----
                Peacock Inn
                20 Bayard Lane, Princeton, NJ

                1. re: scarlet knight

                  The service was very attentive and they had a short, but efficient wine list. They seemed to have a problem getting the white wine bottles cold and I didn't understand this.
                  To conclude, this restaurant is as good as it gets in NJ. I preferred it to Elements because it is more conventional and less experimental and the decor is more traditonal and comforting. If you like more cutting edge food and decor, I'd recommend Elements, but both are quite good for high-end dining.

                  1. re: scarlet knight

                    thanks for the report scarlet knight. couple questions not found in other reports - how was the bar? Is it a place to enjoy a comfortable cocktail hour (tables, chairs, etc) prior to dinner or is it 3 stools like elements? How was the wine by the glass list - good selection from choice bottles or more limited? Lastly, jackets for guys or more summer casual? thanks.

                    1. re: Foody4life

                      The bar was very pretty and it had at least 10 seats. Definitely a place where people could hang out. It was a large separate room.

                      I just looked at the wine by the glass list briefly, but it looked complete and fairly priced.

                      I wore a sports jacket, khaki pants and a dress shirt and I blended in with the crowd, but one gentleman at the next table did have shorts on, which looked underdressed to me. I would say it is smart casual or elegant casual, but definitely not formal or jacket and tie.

                      If you like Nicholas, Elements, Lorena's, etc., this is in the same league, one could disagee on the rank, but it is enjoyable for atmosphere, great service and very good food well prepared.

              2. re: RGR

                RGR - happy to report the music is now classical and not intrusive to the evening. Erase anything you may remember about the old place. The new Peacock far exceeds anything from the past and all but a few of NJ's current offerings. Really a hit.

                1. re: Foody4life

                  Nicely done review (below), Foody4life. And thanks for letting me know about the music. While my preference is for no music, if it must be, classical works for me. I hope to get to the Peacock very soon.

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          2. Absolutely PERFECT is the best way to describe our evening here.

            From the cheerful greeting by the valet to the expertly prepared cocktails in the inviting lounge to the truly satisfying dinner that followed - we enjoyed it all. Finally, a local establishment that delivers absolutely outstanding cuisine, served in the most comfortable dining room by true professionals.

            We enjoyed a quiet August evening here last night as most of Princeton retreats to Nantucket or beyond. We had the Peacock to ourselves. Chef Perez was out of the kitchen, but he has a highly skilled staff that produced a spectacular series of courses. Really can't see how any could have been improved so our highest compliments to the kitchen.

            Our table enjoyed a shrimp gazpacho amuse followed by the corn / crab soup, lamb carpaccio and seared tuna to start. All dishes were full of flavor using the freshest ingredients. The lamb carpaccio was a wonderful alternative to the traditional beef carpaccio served in so many places. Really enjoyed it.

            Our entrees included the wild salmon, lobster, halibut and sirloin. Again, everything was cooked perfectly and we would order it all again.

            For dessert we had the peach cheesecake and the lemon tart with blueberry sorbet. The intensely flavored blueberry sorbet was as good (or better) than the Bent Spoon's - the hallmark of local artisan gelato/sorbets.

            We found the wines by the glass offering to be an excellent variety all in the $9-15 range. The wine list in contrast was a bit limited, but I expect it will grow with time. We found a bottle of Nickel and Nickel cab, fairly priced that was a great accompaniment to the evening.

            The Peacock Inn is off to a great start. We look forward to returning again and again.

            -----
            Peacock Inn
            20 Bayard Lane, Princeton, NJ

            1. A group of friends and I went on Wednesday night. There were 5 of us, so we got to sample somewhat across the menu. The room is lovely and I especially liked the "stars" in the ceiling. The service was fine, although when our server asked if we wanted a 2nd bottle, we said no and yet she still brought it, which was odd since it was a clear No, but in any case, we didn't drink it and they didn't charge us, so no harm. It's quite loud there, which isn't great if you're at a large table, as we were--a round 5-top.
              We enjoyed the amuse, a turnip soup with lobster. It was pretty rich and creamy, so the amuse was the right size, especially if you prefer an all-veg puree soup, rather than cream-based but that's just my preference and certainly not that of others. Our friend with the shellfish allergy was given a lovely looking (and tasting according to her) asparagus soup which looked to be the veg-puree I like.
              We had salads and one person had the roasted corn soup about which she raved. It was presented with the various vegetables and herbs in a bowl, sans liquid, and then the soup was poured in, table-side. They do that at Elements too, and elsewhere, to be sure, it's a nice show, I guess, but kinda silly IMO. Salads were fine, nothing special and the manchego croquettes were OK but more like mozzerella sticks than croquetas, which was what I had assumed they'd be. If you're going to have fried cheese on a salad, I think that goat works better as it's creamier and easier to meld into the salad, but whatever, these were tasty enough. Salty, though, but then again, cheese is salty usually.
              On to the mains: 2 ordered the suckling pig, and then one each of roasted chicken, tuna, and lobster in broth. All were pretty salty, except the chicken which was moist but not overly salty. The suckling pig is presented as a hamburger, that is, it's pulled and then molded into a patty, with a round flap of skin on top, which looks like a layer of ketchup. There are fries, can't recall if potato or yuca, but they look like big steak fries. The guava salsa was really the best part, according to the eaters and samplers, as the pork was way too salty. The tuna suffered from over salting too. Why does the kitchen think that salt=flavor? It should be an enhancer, not the main taste. The tuna was nicely seared and the turnip puree was good, although the caper-piquillo salsa on top was, again, too salty. The lobster might've been the best, although one bite was enough for this note-taker, as it was super rich. That's not bad, mind you, just a lot! Still, I really enjoyed my taste. The chicken wasn't exciting but it was really well roasted, great moistness and flavor.
              We were too full for dessert, as the portions are a generous size. Compared to Elements, where for the same price, you often get a tiny amount, then, yes this was a better deal, price-wise. But, I do think that for that price, I'd rather have more creativity and less salt. Frankly, we all thought that the soups were the best and said we'd come back again for drinks at the bar and a soup, maybe a dessert, too, since we missed out.
              So, in all, food-wise, we thought that if there was a less generous hand with the salt, the flavors of the ingredients would shine. The preparations were all fine and the ideas for the dishes thoughtful, just not super-creative. It is a lovely room and a good place to go for a special occasion, but at that price point, I think I'd be more inclined to hit Elements (if you're going to be in Princeton). I love Eno Terra, too, but we tend to eat in the Eno Teca, so I don't think I can make a fair comparison as it's been since January that I ate in the ET main dining room.

              -----
              Eno Terra
              4484 Route 27, Kingston, NJ 08528

              1. J and I along with another couple enjoyed another great evening of fine dining at the Peacock Inn. From cocktails in their bar to the dinner that followed, everything was simply excellent.

                The evening started with a flavorful chestnut(? can't recall for sure) soup amuse, followed by aps of lamb carpaccio, octopus, tuna and ricotta gnocchi, then entrees of lobster, Scottish salmon and suckling pig. A bottle of prosecco followed by a bottle of Nickel & Nickel cab was a great accompaniment.

                The entree most enjoyed this evening was the roasted Maine Lobster with udon noodles, slow cooked shiitake mushrooms and miso butter. Perfectly cooked lobster claw and tail meat is placed on a bed of udon noodles in a silky broth of miso butter. The shiitake's added an earthy element to the thick and hearty udon noodles and delicate lobster.

                All in all, a great evening.

                1. We had a lovely dinner there last night. The food was delicious, drinks were wonderful and the service was great.
                  S had the risotto gnocchi with asparagus and tomato confit and I had the arugula/endive salad with French feta and pickled grapefruit as appetizers. Both delicious. As entrees S had the roasted cod with sweet potato and I had the cavatelli with winter squash in balsamic brown butter. While the cod was a little dry my cavatelli was wonderful, very flavorful and much more interesting than a simple pasta dish.
                  Our waiter was excellent, the perfect mix of attending to your needs without being intrusive. He was even kind enough to write down the recipe for a drink we particularly enjoyed and asked about.
                  We are fans of elements but I think we have a new favorite. IMO the wait staff at elements can be brusque and rush you through your meal in record time if you are not careful.
                  We found the atmosphere at the Peacock Inn to be much more welcoming and gracious.

                  -----
                  Peacock Inn
                  20 Bayard Lane, Princeton, NJ

                  1. Princeton's finest, continues to shine very brightly. J and I along with a small group of friends had another great dinner here over the weekend.

                    It should be noted that the Peacock has gone to an all prix fixe format for dinner with either a 3 course or 5 course menu. The 3 course has a complete range of selections available for each course with some supplemental costs. The 5 course menu is offered in two versions with one being a vegetarian menu. The chef kindly requests that the entire table select the same number of courses.

                    We decided to have the 5 course dinner and it was nearly perfect. The vegetarian in our group was quite pleased that she could substitute a fish course for one of her courses as well.

                    The evening began with an amuse of parsnip and pear soup that set the tone for the what was to follow. This small vessel of thick and creamy soup had an abundant parsnip flavor while the pear was subtle but present - in a good way. The soup was too quickly finished and thoroughly enjoyed by the table. Excellent.

                    First course was the spiced bison carpaccio which has replaced the lamb carpaccio from previous menus. The bison was very mild in flavor and well presented, thinly sliced and served under an endive bouquet. A crispy parmesan biscotti and dots of a violet mustard aioli with a balsamic reduction accented the bison. Excellent.

                    The second course was described as seared Jersey dayboat sea scallop, parsnip and apple puree, green apple gastrique and upland cress. What was presented was a large, lone scallop, perfectly seared and placed on a wide swath of the parsnip puree. The parsnip puree was a great tie in to the previously enjoyed amuse. Like the soup, the flavor of the parsnip was front and center and the acid of the apple like the pear in the soup was a great balance. We will be copying this dish at home. So simple and perfect for an autumn dinner. Excellent.

                    Third course was described as organic Scottish salmon “En Croute,” white asparagus puree, pickled red onion and red wine reduction. Quite possibly one of the very best salmon dish I've had. The salmon was the star here and was a large fillet that was wrapped in a delicate, flaky and buttery pastry crust. The salmon was cooked to medium rare yet the surrounding pastry was perfectly intact and golden in color. The plate's additions of puree and pickled red onions were in harmony with the salmon. Outstanding.

                    Fourth course was nearly forgettable. Honestly, I don't recall what it was described as other than it was two medallions of pork. The pork was bland and a bit toothsome. On future visits, I will request a substitute of the seared filet mignon and gladly pay any supplement. Sadly the pork course was not our favorite.

                    The evening took a quick turn back to the exemplary with the fifth and final course. Described as warm sticky toffee pudding cake, toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream, it was all that and more! The cake was an individual serving about the diameter of a mini cupcake that had soaked up the warm and luscious toffee sauce. Vanilla ice cream was of artisan quality. Perfect.

                    The evening ended with a plate of light and airy macaroons to accompany the check.

                    We decided to forgo the individual wine pairings offered with the 5 course menu and instead selected a couple bottles of our favorite wines from the Peacock Inn's expanding cellar. We're happy to see the wine list mature. We also welcomed the thoughtful guidance of the sommelier while selecting one of our bottles.

                    Service throughout was very good but not quite up to the level of the cuisine. Four star service with nearly five star cuisine. Nothing in particular to affect the evening but the service team has room for improvement.

                    I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the excellent before dinner service provided in the comfortable Peacock lounge by Princeton's longtime favorite bartender. Princeton locals or frequent visitors will recognize this affable gentleman from the recently closed Lahiere's in town. We're glad he's now at the Peacock Inn.

                    The Peacock Inn along with Princeton's other finest, elements, have set the bar very high. For that, we're very grateful!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Foody4life

                      I've posted on some other thread that we've had two dinners at The Peacock Inn. The first was a tasting menu; the second, three courses chosen from the a la carte menu, which was still available. Both meals were stellar! Not one weak dish.

                      I've had two of the dishes you describe.

                      That salmon, which I had with the tasting and Mr. R. had during the second dinner, is one of *the* best salmon preparations we've ever had. Gorgeous on the plate and seriously delicious. If Chef Perez continues to keep it on the menu (which he should), it could easily become a signature.

                      And the sticky toffee pudding? In a word: OMG! (O.K., that's three words.)

                      We had the same server, Amy, both times. She was congenial and attentive.

                      With The Peacock and elements, Princeton can boast that it is home to two of the state's best restaurants.

                      The Peacock photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                      and here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                      1. re: RGR

                        I must agree that the food at the Peacock Inn is excellent and getting better over time. The spiced bison carpaccio was definitely a positive addition to the menu. The sommelier is very helpful in selecting wines as there are wines in the cellar which may not be on the menu. As noted above, the service is not yet at the excellent level.

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                        Peacock Inn
                        20 Bayard Lane, Princeton, NJ

                      2. re: Foody4life

                        The Peacock Inn let us down last night. So after posting the glowing reports above, we have to also post the disappointments.

                        We arrived last night at 7 for cocktails with friends, before our 8:00 table. The bar was busy and quite frankly uncomfortably LOUD. Seems few were talking with their inside voices so everyone was competing to be heard. We surrendered and retreated for our table at 7:30.

                        The front and rear dining rooms were full so we were seated in the center room, our least favorite as it's the runway for all the service staff attending the 2 other rooms. Also, the sideboard in this area is the support station for all wine service etc. Not the sedate ambiance of the front room or the serene ambiance of the back room.

                        We ordered a bottle of bubbles to start and waited what seemed like forever for it to arrive. Once it arrived, we understood the delay. The bottle was just barely cool so the maitre d poured about a quarter glass for us to toast the evening - and allow him to bury the bottle in an ice bucket. There's about 6 or 7 selections of champagne on the wine list. No idea why bottles can't be kept chilled other than there may be a lack of refrigeration for white wine storage.

                        We again ordered the 5 course menu, and then the wait began. 40+ mins to amuse soup. 20+ mins to 1st, 30 to 2nd, 40+ to 3rd, 30+ to 4th. We were exhausted by the time dessert arrived around 10:30. At least the champagne had time to chill.

                        1. re: Foody4life

                          We've only been to The Peacock mid-week when it wasn't busy. My first thought when reading your description was that the kitchen can't handle being slammed. Has it been as busy as it was last night on your previous visits? Did you speak with anyone regarding the long delays between courses? And once the food arrived, was there any decline in quality?

                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                          1. re: RGR

                            This was the busiest we have seen the Peacock. When we arrived, the lobby was overflowing with waiting diners and there was a large party in the basement room adjacent to the wine cellar.

                            It also appeared the service staff was stretched as we didn't experience the same level of service at the table. Plates were brought out not coordinated for one course, another course was dropped off while a guest was away from the table.

                            The quality of the food was still very high and for that we were happy diners!

                            We suggested to the maitre d that a quick blast of liquid nitrogen would help the champagne and he shared his salted ice method of quick chilling.

                            We should have, but we didn't bring up the long gaps as we could see the evening's challenges. However, if we were first time diners there on Friday evening, our lasting impression would have been a lot different.

                            We'll return of course, but our radar will be piqued to see if this experience was unique.

                            1. re: Foody4life

                              Thanks for the reply, Foody4life. You've confirmed what I suspected. Mr. R. and I rarely go to restaurants in NJ on Friday or Saturday evenings. Since it's easy for us to dine out during the week when things are much quieter in practically all NJ restaurants, we can avoid the kind of situation you encountered at The Peacock. Very glad to hear that the food quality remained high. We'll certainly be dining there again midweek as before.

                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com