Lunch in Princeton during the week
Meeting my old college roommate in Princeton for lunch. She's not much of a foodie, but I am known to be a bit finicky about the food. It doesn't have to be high end...just good quality ingredients that are well prepared. She's pretty frugal so not sure an expensive meal would be her thing. So I guess I'm looking for suggestions of somewhere to go that isn't overly expensive, has good quality/interesting food, and where they wouldn't mind if we sit and chat for awhile. Ethnic suggestions would be welcome as well.
I debated whether I should post this or not, as I'm terrible with names, but I visit Princeton with an old high school friend at least once a year (we're actually doing the once-a-year thing tomorrow, as it turns out), and usually follow the same routine-- we visit whatever book stores there are there, we made an extended visit to the Princeton Record Shop, and then we stop somewhere to eat. He has more esoteric tastes than I do, so he likes a Japanese restaurant that's on one of the side streets, a restaurant that has been there for a good number of years. Not particularly big, but good Japanese food in a relaxing atmosphere for a reasonable price. Sorry I can't be more definite about its name or exact location. My preference is for an Indian restaurant on the main street, not far from where the movie theatre is. I love Indian food, although I eat it only occasionally. During the week, this restaurant has a delicious buffet for not much money. Afterwards, there's an ice cream place across the street that's always worth a visit. Not sure whether the Indian place has the buffet on weekends, but I hope to find out tomorrow.
I have tried Efes (Mediterranean) and I like the foods quiet a bit, and the prices are inexpensive... on the college student budge level of $10-15 per dish. The service is somewhat lack, as you can also read about on here:
There about 6 tables for indoor dining, and about 4 small tables for outdoor dining. If you are not in a hurry and don't need great service, I would think about it. (I am not super into service, maybe because I am also used to many other Asian restaurants like Chinese, Korean, Japanese...etc)
I've eaten at Efes and think the NY Times review is pretty accurate. IMHO, the food is very good and that alone is a reason to go. The place is small, however, and it can be very noisy, even at lunch. Furthermore, even though they always seem to have enough servers, service can be indifferent. On the two occasions I've been there I noticed that the one woman server seemed more interested in taking personal phone calls than on doing her job (the place is small enough that we could hear her conversations). You'll also probably have to flag down someone to get your bill.
If you go, definitely avoid the small table between the drinks cooler and the restroom. That's where people waiting for take-out have to stand. On the other hand, make sure you have the kadayif for dessert. It's wonderful.
Most of what you'll find in town is pretty pedestrian.
The sushi place mentioned above is most likely Ajihei, a small place, located in the basement of a building on Chambers Street. While one of the two better sushi places in town, their dining rules have made our visits here less frequent... NO parties >4 will be seated, parties arriving with more than 4 will not be seated even if two tables are unoccupied, no lingering, no talking to the sushi chef, do not show up a minute before 12 noon, unruly children should dine elsewhere, etc...
But there is hope(!):
Olive's on Witherspoon is a great deli that serves a selection of hot & cold items, sandwiches made to order, excellent salads made fresh daily, etc. They have the best chicken salad and the seafood salad is a fav. They have a few counter stools in the back, but it's mostly a take out place. If the weather's nice, get a lunch at Olive's then walk a block further north (away from the University/Nassau St) on Witherspoon to the library and eat outside at one of the tables in the large square.
After lunch, go to the Bent Spoon on Palmer Square West (a couple blocks away) and have the best gelato this side of Italy.
Small World Coffee a few doors from Olive's on Witherspoon serves the best in town to get you ready for the afternoon.
Enjoy your visit.
22 Witherspoon Street
The Bent Spoon
35 Palmer Sq West, Princeton, NJ 08542
Small World Coffee
14 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ 08542
I suggest Mediterra. You can't beat the location, especially if it's a nice day and you can sit on the patio overlooking Palmer Square. It's not cheap - but I can recommend both the salmon BLT ($16) and the penne dish ($15). And you can get a drink, if that makes a difference. Teresa's Caffe (just up the street, and by the same folks) is more casual and the pizzette are reasonable, but there can be a wait.
Great sandwiches at Nassau St. Seafood--a market with outdoor seating (or eat inside their restaurant next door-Blue Point Grill, which isn't open for lunch, but you can sit there.) There's a Small World Coffee next door. Go to The Bent Spoon after---It's the best. Agree that Efes (across the street) is also good. D'angelos Market is variable, but nice sandwiches on good bread. Oh, and there's actually a cafe in the Princeton Library with sandwiches from the very good Witherspoon Bread Company across the street.