Restaurant recs in Princeton, Mercer County

My Mom is turning 90 at the end of April. My sister wants to have dinner in a nice restaurant. (We will be fully vaccinated by then.)

I’ve tried to explain Covid restrictions to her regarding restrictions on the number of people who can be seated at the table, concerns about possibly infecting the staff if they haven’t been vaccinated, etc. But she’s hellbent on planning, so I told her I’d reach out to my friends and get their suggestions.

My sister wants a place that is “high end” meaning nice ambiance, great service, good food. Someplace worthy of a major celebration. She’s always been one to go for a place that looks great, and the food is ok. She wants someplace where we can dress up a bit. So those are her criteria.

Mom uses a walker, and is able to climb a few stairs but not a whole flight. Location wise, western Monmouth County, Mercer Couny, Princeton are all pretty close to her house. My sister’s plan is to go out to dinner, then go back to the house for dessert.

Where would you suggest?

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Since you said western Monmouth county is Il Nido in Marlboro too far away? Not sure on your budget bc it’s def got higher prices, but it’s high end and universally well received on here.
Per Mr P, they also seem to be doing a very good job on their Covid protocols.

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Yes, Il Nido is an excellent restaurant.
I have also heard excellent reviews about Mistral in Princeton. I haver never been there but they have a very creative menu and have been listed in NJ monthly top 25 restaurants.

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Peacock Inn in Princeton may be worth a look. It’s a “get dressed up” sort of place. Not sure about the logistics with stairs.

elementsprinceton.com. Scott Anderson is a genius.

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Should the food be more adventurous, more conventional, or anything goes? (I just noticed “genius” mentioned and thought of people I know who don’t really enjoy “genius food” :slight_smile: )

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Mediterra & Eno Terra (sister restaurants to Albarino in Shewsbury if you have been, are both highly regarded restaurants in the area. One in Princeton and one up the road in Kingston, both are farm to table and very good.

If you are looking for a more traditional steakhouse type place The Witherspoon Grill is another homegrown Princeton brand that is beloved by locals. It’s certainly good, but I wasn’t blown away by it, but I"m a bit of a steak snob, so perhaps I"m not a good judge. (It is good though don’t get me wrong I do recommend it)

If you are a fan of Salt Creek Grill in Rumson then they also have a location in Princeton.
https://www.saltcreekgrille.com/princeton/
(I have never been to this location)

Lastly my personal favorite is Toscana (do a search on here I’ve posted about it as have a couple others)
https://toscano-ristorante.com/
(Parking can be an issue at this location) But you can drop her and go across the street to a public parking lot.

Those are my suggestions, good luck and enjoy!

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I second all of @NotJrvedivici s recs except stay away from salt creek grille.

also, we were at Elements a long time ago and it was very good.

I forgot about Salt Creek. Not best food, but something for everyone, and there’s plenty of parking in a suburban setting. There is a Ruths Chris there as well. Just an fyi, for ease of access for your elderly relative since Princeton proper has some tight parking areas throughout.

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@seal yeah as you notice I didn’t really “recommend” it, however since it’s very familiar to people in our area I thought I would mention it as a “safe alternative”. Opinions may vary, but I don’t have a grudge against Salt Creek.

@Metsfan86 the Ruths Chris I’ve been to in the area was in the parking lot of an industrial complex on Rt. 2 somewhere, is that the one or is there another I’m not aware of? I would probably put that Ruths Chris as better than Witherspoon Grill, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

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RC is in same “village” as Salt Creek, albeit I think on other side of the development. Def suburban setting, totally forgot about this area. I just know from experience that some of Princeton proper streets are tough to navigate and can be difficult for someone with mobility issues.

SC and RC would def qualify as “fancy” to most as well.

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Toscano fully endorsed by CB70.

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Thanks for all the recommendations. I am at the mercy of my sister, who is now thinking that she wants a place with an ocean view, because my Mom loves the ocean. I have my opinions on places that are on the water, they are usually not good. You are paying for the view.

But I’m asking, are there any lesser evils that aren’t so terrible for a celebratory 90th birthday dinner early on a Saturday night (sigh).

Hate to break this to you, but Princeton doesn’t have any Ocean views. :rofl: :joy: :rofl: :joy:

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I’m subject to the whims of my sister, so now we’re talking anything oceanfront in any county. Who knows what she’ll decide next week!

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Contrary to several respected opinions,my family and I love Rooney’s in Long Branch. Great views & many good menu & cocktail offerings.One of my favorite places & extended family too!
A few boardwalk in Asbury offerings too, the least offensive to me is Stella Marina.

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I enjoyed a nice brunch at Rum Runner if that’s in play? 2nd jetty menu looks amazing and gets a lot of praise here, but I dont know if that’s “fancy” kind of place.

I will second Rooney’s for this event.

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Although…this, although not ocean front, would fit the bill.

https://charliesofbayhead.com/

I’m soooo torn on Rooney’s, I will always love it but…

Listen Rooney’s was never cheap but it seemed like PTPV (Prior To Pier Village) they at least tried to give you a portion appropriate to the price.

So when they were the only game in town I preferred it better. Since PV has been built it seems Rooney’s gets a boost from the PV over flow and their prices went up and portions went down.

Quality has always been good. I’ve enjoyed many meals over the years but once Memorial Day comes you won’t catch me within 10 miles of it.

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