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Apr 26, 2010 03:31 PM

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:

      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.

        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.


          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