June 30, 2011

A Day Trip to Princeton, NJ, in Photos

Update 6/17/12: Another successful Father's Day in Princeton. Yankee Doodle Tap Room had some menu changes but everything was pretty good and it has a great outdoor patio. Princeton is still an ideal little day trip from the Philly area - one hour from Center City; lovely, walk-able main drag on Nassau Street and in Palmer Square; lots of shops and restaurants to check out. Stop at the Bent Spoon for ice cream!


Philadelphia offers an endless list of things to do on the weekends, but sometimes it's just nice to get away. If you're looking for a quick day trip with good food, shopping and atmosphere, my vote is for Princeton, NJ.

We have spent the last few Father's Days in Princeton because it's a convenient meeting spot for both our families. My brother lives there and never fails to pick out a solid restaurant for brunch. This time we went to the Yankee Doodle Tap Room at the Nassau Inn.

The Inn itself is beautiful and worth a stroll through just to see the old, dark wood interior that is nothing short of Ivy League material. I imagine it's one of the priciest places to stay in town, but convenient for Philadelphians, Princeton is only 50 mins away so there's no need to worry about getting a room.

I had to make a little fun of the Yankee Doodle Tap Room's name and ask if I should practice some colonial tunes on my 3rd grade flute but in truth the place was inspiring. The inside is a similar, oak-table lined, intelligent atmosphere with a bar fit only for highballs and dirty martinis. One wall is covered with signed photos of dozens of famous people who've eaten there - including Michelle Obama. Rumor has it that Brooke Shields' name is etched in one of the tables. The back of the bar is covered by a 13-ft Norman Rockwell mural of the legendary Yankee Doodle tale.

Even better is the Tap Room's large outdoor patio. There was plenty of room for our party of seven to fit under an umbrella and enjoy brunch on a gorgeous Sunday morning. The menu has something for everyone. Here's a quick photo tour of what we ate and loved.

Summer Steak Salad with corn, tomatoes, bleu cheese,
onion straws and buttermilk peppercorn dressing.
White Truffle Parmesan Fries

Roast Beef and Aged Cheddar Panini
on a French Baguette
Pastrami and Corned Beef in one sammy! with chopped bacon and swiss on marble rye. A Father's Day dream.

Asparagus and Tomato Quiche with Fresh Fruit - so pretty!
Crab, Crayfish and Brie Panini on Sourdough

Also tasty were the wings appetizer and the Nassau Burger, an 8 oz. cooked to your liking, topped with Canadian bacon and a fried egg. The only dish that didn't impress was the Crab Cake Sandwich, which came out overcooked and really really thin. Hopefully just a fluke.

Aren't we just too cute?

After a lovely brunch, make time to stroll around Palmer Square to visit lots of name brand stores like Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and J. Crew, as well as a lovely array of boutiques and chocolate shops. Also take a walk up and down Nassau Street, the main drag. Princeton University lines one side of the street and is just plain gorgeous to walk through. Breathe in as many smart vibes as you can. The other side has more boutiques, ice cream shops, bookstores, and the like. This is one of my favorite examples of the beautiful architecture you'll find along Nassau Street.

It's also worth strolling off the beaten path to find hidden treasures among the side streets. Most famous is the Princeton Record Exchange. If you're an entertainment buff, you'll find great prices here on both popular and rare, new and used CDs, records and DVDs of all genres, from pop to classical to heavy psychedelic occult doom metal (I enjoyed perusing through that section). You can also sell your own music and movies if you're looking to downsize or make some extra cash. It's open six days a week and is just fun to peek through even if you don't buy anything. 
What the inside looks like:


Last stop during a day trip to Princeton has to be for ice cream. There are more ice cream shops along Nassau and down the side streets than I have seen anywhere else. My brother took us to Thomas Sweet for the best homemade ice cream. Judging by the line I guess many others agree with him. I can vouch that the vanilla fudge swirl was worth the wait.

Thomas Sweet for ice cream
Line for ice cream (note the fun house mirror on the left)

Click to enlarge and see the menu

If you've spent some time in Princeton and have other recommendations, let us know! We'll definitely be going back again soon.


Helen said...

Princeton is one of my favorite little towns. At age 8, I told my parents that I was going to go to Princeton on the basis of a visit to a family friend that culminated with a meal at PJ's Pancake House.

You must hit up the Bent Spoon the next time you're there. Not only are their ice creams and sorbets amazing, but the little baked goods that litter their counter are just as good. I always get the salted caramel brownie when they have it.

Kristy said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Helen! I think I saw PJ's while walking up the street and it looks great. Will keep Bent Spoon in mind for the next trip.