11/07/2014

30 Burgers in Princeton NJ


30 Burgers has the unfortunate distinction of replacing failed small businesses, lasting no more than a year. Uncle Louie G's Italian Ices were no match for the artisanal ice cream mainstays in Princeton, so it was not unexpected that they closed their doors before they could properly decorate their baby blue walls. Yet, something about 30 Burgers looks promising, especially in a college town.

The draw was the junior combo: a burger, fries, and a drink for $5.99. It is actually just an adult version of the kids' meal, with the added shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Both junior and kids' meals come with 3 oz. patties, same portion of fries, and same size fountain drink. Between my husband, myself, and my daughter-- we weren't too adventurous, and just got our different versions of cheeseburgers. My husband substitute his American with bleu cheese.

As the name suggests, there are 30 different kinds of burgers. The 30th burger is a special-of-the-day offering. Different toppings range from bacon to fried egg. They have chicken burgers, turkey burgers, and veggie burgers, regular paninis, and salads, to round out their menu. Regular patties are 7 oz., and seems just the right size for an average patron. The fries are crispy, reminiscent of Burger King fries before they got healthy. Hence, beware of the amount of oil you will consume at this place.

I enjoyed my meal with the bustle of college kids coming in and out, and the view of the university from the front windows. It is decorated with the standard orange & black motif of the university, including vintage photos from the Princeton historical society. 30 Burgers seems invested in staying here a long time, much longer than its predecessors.

30 Burgers on Urbanspoon

10/28/2014

Witherspoon Grill in Princeton NJ



I took an eight-week beginner's ballet class at Princeton Ballet School, and today was the last day. My friend from NYC came every week to take the class with me, and also helped me with my daughter while she was here. We made a friend in class, and the three of us ballet newbies happily celebrated our introduction to dance with lunch in downtown Princeton.

Our new friend suggested a few places, and we decided on Witherspoon Grill because I'd never been there. Upon seeing the lunch prices, I remembered why not! Lunch entrees started at $15, and I can only imagine what dinner is like. Good thing today was a special day.

My friends got mushroom risotto and salmon salad. I ordered the catch of the day: a pan-seared tilapia served with chopped salad. The star on my plate was the salad, with crunchy surprises from celery and radish. 

We all enjoyed our meal, enjoying good company in a cozy booth. There are other options for seating, depending on your mood, which range from traditional to chic contemporary. The bar is the centerpiece of the place, and it might be a nice spot for happy hour.

Witherspoon Grill on Urbanspoon

10/21/2014

Caffe Galleria in Lambertville NJ



The weather was so nice today. It was a good time to visit Lambertville and look at the Halloween decorations, both in homes and businesses. I was told by a resident that the town transforms into Halloweenville at night, and on Halloween, about seven blocks are closed off so that trick or treaters can roam safely. My friend was visiting from NYC so it was also a great time to show off New Jersey's gems.

After walking around, we settled on Caffe Galleria. A lot of other restaurants and cafes were closed for some reason. My friend also commented that it was a good sign that there were so many diners at Caffe Galleria. We skipped the outdoor seating though it looked inviting, and were welcomed to an even more inviting and warm interior. The first thing that greets you is a gelato & coffee bar, then there is a choice of three indoor seating sections. We chose the largest room with red walls and paintings of colorful food items, like raspberries and olives. The tables were also all unique with repurposed wood.

My friend started out with a mushroom soup that was highly recommended. She said it had a strong mushroom smell and flavor, and was good and hearty. She then had a grilled chicken panini, with prosciutto, cheese, and avocado, served with a side salad. I tried their gluten-free pizza. Thankfully for the delicious toppings, the crust wasn't so bad. Overall, I should just avoid gluten substitutes.

Service was friendly and attentive, even though there seemed to be only one server for both indoor and outdoor seating. It is definitely a place worth revisiting.

Caffe Galleria on Urbanspoon

10/20/2014

Zorba's Brother

Grilled chicken panini with potato salad

Gluten-free omelette with tomatoes, spinach, and olives, served with fruit cup

Okay, I lied. If you read the original post below, I said I'd return to this place over and over again. Unfortunately, as how it happens with other places I want to revisit, there ends up being other places to go to, and too little time. Well, I found an opportunity to go back to Zorba's and I did just that. My friend and I wanted to visit the Princeton art museum (closed on Mondays, to our surprise) and we wanted to eat nearby. Diners are also great for undecided diners like my friend.

It was awfully quiet inside, with just one booth occupied. There was also only one server who, even though he had just two booths to wait on, was never around when we needed him. I almost felt like we were bothering him!

My friend's grilled chicken panini with sundried tomatoes was good, along with the potato salad. I went with a gluten-free omelette, which comes with a choice of three vegetables. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of asking for olives-- thinking they were the typically safe black ones. It left an awful aftertaste even though I picked off most of them. Sadly, I had eaten my fruit cup ahead of my omelette, so there was no refreshing of my palate after my meal.

The coffee also wasn't very good. Not even worth the free refill. In short, I withdraw my previous recommendation of Zorba's Brother.


... original post below from 2/19/12 ...


I ordered a vegetarian sampler (pictured above, priced at $9.99) which I have nothing but love for.  My daughter ordered an overpriced kid's grilled cheese with bacon at $8.49.  But since my daughter is a budding food critic, I will just use her quotes for the rest of this post.

"Who makes bacon like this?  It's so soft."

"How come they don't serve potato bread here?"

"Why do they have butter knives on the table, but they don't even give you any bread with butter?"

"This place is decorated all wrong.  Why do they have a stuffed animal tiger over there?"

"Plus, they are so slow.  They keep forgetting my soda."

"Next time you come to this place, leave me at home."


P.S.  Of course, this is all tongue-in-cheek.  I plan on going back to Zorba's again, and again.  There were no wrong notes in my plate, and I appreciated its simplicity and freshness-- qualities that go hand in hand.

Zorba's Brother on Urbanspoon

10/18/2014

Hippot in Philadelphia PA




After visiting my friend's mother in the hospital, my friend took me and my daughter out to try this new hotpot/shabu shabu place in Chinatown. Neither of us have had this type of cuisine in many years, so we gave it a go. The place was decorated with theatrical Halloween decor, which made our trip more memorable.

We ordered the large pot with half pork broth and half spicy broth, to get the best of everything. It is served with a plate of beef and a basket of vegetables. We added an extra order of beef, and one order of each: shrimp, scallops, udon noodles, bean thread noodles, and watercress. Servers continuously replenished the broth, so in a way it is a never ending bowl of soup-- as long as you are willing to pay a la carte for what goes into the soup.

As delicious as the food was, we did not enjoy our meal and we did not feel satisfyingly full. We were clumsy with the cooking, and soon the novelty wore off. I wish there was a chart for suggested cooking times, and it would've been nice for the shrimp to have been peeled. The pork broth tasted good, but did not smell good at all, and it kept blowing in my direction. The spices in the spicy broth got dangerously spicy when it bunched up in the basket spoons.

It was fun while it lasted, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is up for an adventure. But this was our first and last trip to Hippot.

Hippot Shabu Shabu on Urbanspoon

10/17/2014

Princeton Pi



My daughter got off early from school today. Her friend got off the bus with her and is staying with us until her parents come home. I asked the girls what they would have had for lunch at school, and they said, "pizza." I asked them what they wanted to eat since they're not at school, and they said again, "pizza."

I'd seen Princeton Pi a dozen times while walking or driving around Nassau Street. They have a nice menu with pizza (of course), as well as sandwiches and salads. I kept it in mind for a time the kids wanted this type of fare, and today was the day.

The decor is cute. Orange and black keep with the university's colors. There are several references to the town of Princeton, as well as mathematical equations. Hence their name.

It's a small place, however, so it's not good for groups. The booths can sit up to 4 at most, and there aren't many. It's a good spot to grab a quick bite to eat, or take out. As for quality of the pizza, the girls rated it a 7 out of 10!

Princeton Pi on Urbanspoon

10/16/2014

Brick Farm Market in Hopewell NJ

Main dining area on first floor

Over the summer, my husband and I passed this place on our way home from Lambertville. I had never seen it before, and it looked promising. We planned a biking trip in the Hopewell area, with a plan to stop by this new place before or after biking. We've returned several times for different meals, or just coffee. There's a market inside, Rojo's Roastery, a bakery, and a deli-style case with prepared farm-fresh and gluten-free foods. There's also a menu of hot foods. Everything we've tried so far has been beyond good, and it's always a pleasant experience coming here.

Elephant ears, my daughter's favorite

Burger with parmesan kettle chips

Bagel with bacon cream cheese

Brick Farm Market on Urbanspoon