Agricola

Originally published April 24th, 2013 in The Daily Princetonian.

Agricola Community Eatery, Princeton’s newest high-end restaurant, combines farm-to-table principles with fine dining. The decor has a minimal yet rustic aesthetic, complemented by its flannel-clad waitstaff. More importantly, Agricola’s seasonal menu features ingredients derived from local farms, including its own Great Road Farm, and is incredibly vegetarian-friendly.

As you enter the restaurant, it’s hard to ignore the well-stocked bar and even harder to ignore the cocktails listed on the menu. I ordered the “Jersey Lightning,” a simple and refreshing drink that carefully balances the flavors of applejack, lemon and candied ginger, garnished with a slice of Fuji apple. The cocktail’s natural sweetness, accented with the zing of ginger, makes it far too easy to drink while packing a decent kick.

I decided to order three courses to complement my friend’s Farmhouse Menu. For starters, I ordered the Atlantic cod fritters, which were well-seasoned and moist without being greasy. I went with the Eden Farms pork chop for my second course. Like the fritters, the pork chop was perfectly seared, tender and delicious. The pearl onions and caramelized apple sides were particularly delightful, offering a nice change in texture. Finally, for dessert, I went with the Meyer lemon cheesecake garnished with huckleberries, cream and vanilla salt, as recommended by our waiter. The homemade animal cracker crust was crunchy and not at all soggy.

The attention to complementary flavors and textures carries over to Agricola’s dessert courses. The huckleberries that garnished my New York-style cheesecake provided a tart and refreshing break from the richness of the cheese layer. While I was hesitant about trying my friend’s dessert, I was surprised to find that the brownie was incredibly dark and not at all sugary. The ice cream acted as a break from the dense flavor of the brownie, while candied walnuts and popcorn were welcoming changes in texture.

Even at a high-end restaurant, I typically find it difficult to finish a main course, not because I am full, but because my palate gets bored. This was not the case at Agricola. The food was all incredibly well-executed with light and simple seasoning to complement the natural flavors of the ingredients. Each dish I ordered was thoughtfully prepared, as evident in the variety of textures and flavors on each plate.

If there’s one drawback, it’s the price. While I felt that my meal was worth every penny, the prices aren’t exactly student-friendly. Even then, the dining experience was worth it and the portions, while not overwhelming, are certainly filling. Agricola provides a new kind of dining experience that was not previously available in the town of Princeton. Needless to say, I’ll be back … after I pick up a few extra shifts at work.

5 out of 5 paws

Pros: Fresh seasonal ingredients, great cocktails, perfect portions.

Cons: Pricey.

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