I love vacations. Everybody loves vacations. Some people like to camp out in the mountains or on a riverbed, cooking stew or the ‘catch of the day’ over a campfire. Others like to sail the high seas and rustle up rations on a butane burner and still others love to stay in four star hotels and order room service at the end of the day. But when it comes to eating on vacation, I like finding wonderful new restaurants that surprise me with its food whether I’m in a quiet small town or a noisy big city.
Last summer Richard and I ventured from our Los Angeles home and headed to Princeton, New Jersey to attend the wedding of our own wedding’s flower girl… It was during our time in Princeton we discovered No ONE 53 a wonderful bistro in a quiet neighborhood in the “wilds” of Rocky Hill a/k/a Princeton “adjacent.” The restaurant’s décor is minimalist, accented by modern lighting. The bare tables sport crisp white linen napkins. Yet the feeling you get when entering the dining room is warm and welcoming. This was greatly enhanced by the greeting we received from the owner, Joe McLaughlin, who led us to our table and handed us menus that appeared to be printed on a single sheet of plain brown ‘grocery bag’ paper.
Before we ordered, our waitress told us that the wines on the special Captain’s List were all half price – music to our ears. We decided on the ’06 Cakebread chardonnay, a Napa wine we normally can’t afford. It came perfectly chilled in all its buttery glory.
For starters, I chose a grilled Caesar salad… a stalk of grilled romaine lettuce with a creamy anchovy dressing that was so delicious I wanted seconds, and I don’t even like salads. Richard had the caprese salad… fresh mozzarella and New Jersey tomatoes. What’s not to love, even for me?
Though I didn’t want to give up sipping Cakebread, I decided to get a glass of cabernet sauvignon,Vina Robles to go with the char-grilled flat iron steak I ordered. The steak was tender and grilled to perfection. The hand-cut shoestring fries were golden and crispy. Richard stayed with the chardonnay as he dove into his stuffed poussin with caramelized red onions, cherries and shitake mushrooms. If he had to pick a “last meal,” I think this would have been it. Sated and happy, we passed on dessert as we sipped our decaf cappuccinos.
So, here’s my advice. If you’re ever in Princeton (or Princeton adjacent), dial 609-924-1019 and make a reservation at this wonderful American bistro perched on a quiet, tree-lined street. You won’t be disappointed.
Address: 153 Washington Street
Rocky Hill, New Jersey