The Hairy Vegetarian in Princeton: Agricola

Posted by Steven Russell on Saturday, August 24, 2019

Last night my husband and I went with our friends, Brian and Gregg, to celebrate their 27th anniversary at Agricola in Princeton. The “eatery” is described on their website: “Like all our favorite foods, Agricola is fresh, down to earth and full of flavor. We think food is a universal language—it brings us together and nourishes us. In Latin, “Agricola” means “farmer” which embodies our farm to table spirit and our dedication to community and comfort.”

If you’re looking for a spectacular, comfortable, relaxing, delicious treat, get yourself to this restaurant! Everything about my evening was delightful. The restaurant is in that very old-style European building on the corner of Witherspoon and Nassau, just opposite the main gates of Princeton University. For years and years it was Lahiere’s. The rustic, farm-esque space is divided into small areas, so that it seemed that our table was tucked away in a special place all our own, even though the restaurant is quite large. The service was extremely good. Waitstaff and buss staff were quick and efficient. They were very friendly, too. The buss staff wore jeans and plaid shirts.

I started my meal with a Cloudy Days made of gin, campari, lemon, rhubarb, and egg white. The flavor of rhubarb took me immediately to my grandmother’s barn in Ohio and the thick patch of rhubarb that grew there. The four of us shared, for appetizers, grilled Shishito Peppers (We actually ordered it as a side dish, but the waitress pleaded with us to make it an appetizer, since we would enjoy it much more this way. She was correct), Local Mushroom Flatbread with spinach, ricotta cheese, a poached egg, and Pecorino Romano, and something that, once in a great while, takes your breath away when you eat it: Mushroom Paté. The smooth, rich paste came in a little jelly cup with an attached lid. We spread it on crusty bread, then topped it with black fermented garlic. The result was exhilarating. I first remember this kind of breathtaking eating experience with two dishes at The Gramercy Tavern in New York: Mushroom Cappuccino and Warm Chocolate Ganache. I hope that the next time I go to Agricola they will have this paté, or maybe something equally as delicious.

For my entrée I had Fried Green Tomatoes with pepper relish, Castle Valley grits, confit tomatoes, and buttermilk remoulade. In this delightful dish came together all the important things: flavor (spice, sour, sweet, tang) and texture (crisp, tender, moist, pliant, chewy).

For dinner my friend Brian picked out a stunning bottle of French Syrah: Entrefaux ‘Crozes-Hermitage,’ Rhône Valley, France, 2017. We stayed until the bottle was empty. We skipped dessert at the restaurant, not because they weren’t tempting, but because we had to bow to our tradition of walking down Witherspoon to Halo Pub for ice cream. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful celebration.

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