I just finished planning a trip to France for this summer, so I’m feeling a bit like a Francophile right now. In the last month I have dined out at three out of four of these spots, so I guess you could say I have France on the brain! Thankfully, there is no lack of good French food within a 15-mile radius of our home in Titusville, NJ.
If YOU want to feel like you’re in the French countryside, here’s where you need to go. I have ordered these starting with the most classic, and making the way down the food becomes a bit more inventive, contemporary and seasonal. Bon appétit!
Manon Restaurant (Lambertville, NJ)
It took me several years to make it out to Manon, and I could kick myself for waiting so long. This whimsical Lambertville gem is a real standout, with a starry-night inspired mural on the ceiling and curated décor from what looks like years of collecting from antique French markets. Manon has a $25 pre-fixe on Wednesday and Thursday nights, where you get an appetizer and entrée. Every week it’s different. This week we enjoyed the terrine (SO fresh) and plump mussels in a white wine herb tomato broth. For entrees we tried the duck and monkfish medallions in garlic cream sauce (pictured). Each entrée is served with haricot vert, carrots and a potato gratin.
Bistro Rouget (Stockton, NJ)
Look for the green-striped awning! Formerly “Nola”, the new Bistro Rouget is a cute little spot in Stockton, NJ. Festive vintage posters line the walls, each one painting a perfect picture of French culture. The food itself is classic French comfort. The Goat Cheese & Leek Cheesecake and Steak Tartare appetizers are incredibly flavorful. End the night across the street at the Stockton Inn with a nightcap.
Inn at Phillip’s Mill Restaurant (New Hope, PA)
Get ready to be transported, because the Inn at Phillip’s Mill is one of the oldest properties in the area. It’s a well-kept 18th century stone barn on the National Historic Register! And everything I’ve ever eaten at their restaurant there is prepared to perfection. The mainstay menu offers up the classics, such as Coquilles St. Jacques and Medallions of Veal Niçoise. But the specials are always creative and seasonal, keeping with some French flair. I love this property’s obsession with pigs, their rustic plaid wall coverings and cozy fireplace. While you’re there you may see framed articles dating back over the decades that show how the Inn and the restaurant have changed over the years. It’s a really one-of-a-kind spot. Visit this spring and enjoy lunch or dinner in the garden!
Rat’s Restaurant (Hamilton, NJ)
If I could live in any restaurant, Rat’s would be it. It doesn’t feel like a restaurant, it feels like a gorgeous mansion hidden away in the French countryside! I love how Rat’s menu changes seasonally, but still has underlying French cuisine method and ingredients. Take their Coq Au Riesling, for example, with Griggstown chicken, oyster mushrooms, cippolini onion, bacon lardon and pommes pureé. Or their Kobe Beef Coulotte with carrot-ginger puree, duck fat potatoes, baby bok choy and Bordelaise syrup. These dishes nod to their original French origin, with inventive, seasonal twists. Go early and walk around the sculpture garden at the Grounds For Sculpture.