In the spring, summer and fall, I flourish. Life is good, no complaints, beaming with energy, happiness and positivity. Come winter, like clockwork, I enter hibernation mode. Getting off of the couch is a serious struggle. What’s that about? And as if the listlessness wasn’t enough, from late December until early March, all I really want is comfort food. Cheesy casseroles, tender slow-cooked meats, and lots and lots of carbs. It’s during this time I find myself gravitating towards French and rustic Italian cuisine, in cozy farmhouse settings. And also gaining a not insignificant amount of weight…
Since the temperature has dropped, here are the cozy, comforting restaurants I have found much solace in visiting!
Brian’s in Lambertville is my winter staple. Every single dish on the menu at this cozy French bistro *screams* comfort food. You must try the Robiola Ravioli with Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Lemon & Crab Risotto, Beef Short Ribs Stroganoff and Scottish Salmon with Bacon Butter Sauce and Braised Savoy Cabbage. I always end the meal with their heavenly white chocolate bread pudding (don’t even try suggesting anything else). For the amount and quality of food you get, the $50 3-course pre-fixe is fair – especially considering it’s BYOB.
We popped into the Dinky Bar before a holiday show at the McCarter Theater, and it was the perfect place to be on a chilly night. We started off with a few winter warmers (a spicy Mezcal cocktail known as The Essay) but also ordered a couple small plates to keep us full & happy during the play. Their inventive farm fresh dishes are some of the most flavorful I’ve seen in a while, like Vegetarian Nachos (with pumpkin seed mole, black beans, smoked tofu, pomegranate salsa, queso fresco) and Smoked Duroc Pork Ribs with bbq spices and jalapeño cornbread. The Crispy Sesame Chicken Wings with chili sauce, scallion and kimchee were (ahem) finger licking good. If you’re looking for a new spot to try in Princeton this is it!
This dining establishment within a beautifully remodeled 1800s farmhouse may not look like your standard “tavern” but it does have that home-away-from-home neighborhood feel. The fact that it’s on a farm and using its own humanely raised meats to create their dishes is just a huge plus! We have enjoyed many comfy-casual dishes at the bar and for lunch, including Pork Empanadas with Pickled Farm Veg & Pepper Aioli, Gnocchi Bolognese with Beef Short Rib, Berkshire Pork, Lamb Shoulder & Nicoise Olive, and also some of the more “upscale” offerings, like their incredible Ossabaw Pork Rillettes with Baby Fennel, Cabernet Mustard and Toast Points.
The newest on my list may be one of the most unique! Tucked away on Tullamore Farms, the Rosemont Supper Club is started as a series of pop-up dining experiences in the Summer of 2016. Now they offer a 4-course meal (or a “taste the whole menu” extravaganza) with many of the ingredients sourced locally. Wild Burgundy Snails with Crispy Prosciutto & Foraged Greens, Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast with Chestnut Gnudi & Figs, Lamb en Crepinette with Paprika Agnolotti… we devoured it all (especially the duck). Enjoying a glass of good wine with the fire roaring was just what we needed to escape the winter’s chill!
What dishes do you turn to when you need something comforting? I hope you find winter relief in these cozy spots this season, and if you have a restaurant recommendation for me, shoot me a message!