Cargot Brasserie opened near the renovated railroad station in Princeton last year (2017)—a welcome addition to the University Campus’ new Arts and Transit Neighborhood opposite McCarter Theatre. Fenwick Hospitality Group, which also owns Farm-to-Table Agricola in town, has an agreement to run both Cargot Brasserie and the nearby American Dinky Bar and Kitchen, a casual bar housed in the former passenger station.
The Setting for Brunch
I arrived early today as I was planning to walk around town until the “Hearts Afire” ice sculpture event at Palmer Square in the afternoon, and I wanted a leisurely day. The entry way opens onto a pretty, easy-on-the-eyes, yes, beige room, with a large bar, a banquette lining the opposite wall facing cane chair seating at moveable tables for two in one room and a large dining room in another.
It was quiet at 9:00 a.m. when I was seated and still comfortable an hour later. Inexplicably, the flat screen over the bar was broadcasting a soundless Midwest weather report for the entire hour. As a solo diner, I notice these things.
Fusion Polite Service
Service is fusion polite. There are lots of questions—”Water, still or flat?…With your croissant—butter or jelly?… The potatoes served with the omelet are fried in duck fat, or would you prefer a salad?” At the next table, the server began, “Good morning, gentlemen, can I get you guys something to drink?” My server was training a colleague, so there was some duplication of politesse, which was endearing.
The brunch menu focuses on French classics—croissants, pain perdu…my ham and Gruyère omelette was dressed lightly in Mornay sauce. Fenwick owns a farm, and the well-presented food is delightfully clean and fresh, and the cappuccino is generous.
One note—the croissant, ordered separately from the omelet, tasted wonderful, except the texture was less flaky than one desires. I had requested the butter, which arrived nearly frozen and inoperable, so I cannot give you a perception of its taste. These are things to work on. The omelet, by contrast, was perfection as was the lightly dressed salad. The service was timely and unrushed and offered with polite smiles.
Beyond Breakfast at Cargot Brasserie
At Cargot, you can purchase pastry items to “grab and go” as early as 7 a.m. if you are rushing to the train or, on a vacation day, to the canoe or kayak rental nearby. The restaurant serves Breakfast, Brunch on the weekends, Lunch, Afternoon Café Menu, and Dinner—including raw bar, and plats du jour, plus a pre-theatre menu, all French-inspired and sourced from the owners’ Great Road Farm. Cocktails, beer, and French wines from all regions, interspersed with those of a few other nations, complement the traditional and modern brasserie offerings. Make a reservation to avoid disappointment. I will be back to explore.