Underground Cafe, Princeton, NJ

Against my better judgement I decided to go try out Underground Cafe a few days ago. Swati G. was buying so I wanted to go somewhere a little more upscale, but she taunted me to try something new and since I’m always game to try most things once, I relented. I hadn’t been there before, didn’t know anyone who had been there or even read any reviews. My initial hesitancy stemmed from the cheesy web site and uninspiring menu. I really should learn to trust my instincts.

Underground Cafe opened about a year ago in downtown Princeton, right across from Ichiban and near my favorite Witherspoon Grill. It’s owned by a former Bulgarian professional soccer player, Assen Tchongov. He grew up in the restaurant business with his father owning a number of restaurants in Bulgaria. The food is described as european with Bulgarian influences. You can pretty much smell the smokiness of the paprika in the air as soon as you walk in.

The restaurant was pretty empty that night, surprising for a Thursday night (well then again, probably not). We were sat down at a booth I think, not quite sure what to call it. The table was made of green glass. The web site proudly states that it was imported from Bulgaria to create the feel of a Bulgarian restaurant. Somehow I didn’t feel like I was in Bulgaria. It seemed like someone’s idea of quality decor resembles a cheap eastern european nightclub. A word of advice, if you get to sit at these corner “booths” sit in the middle, if you sit at the ends then the table is too far from you because the angles are all wrong. I ended up getting a chair to sit closer to the table.

The restaurant is BYO, but there is a wine shop around the corner with a decent, moderately priced selection.

Overall the food is decent, though not memorable. The appetizers are definately better then the mains. We tried the following:

– Spinach & Feta Croquettes – excellent
– Zucchini Croquettes – more like deep fried, greasy zucchini slices. Not good
– Chicken Paprikas Soup – Was returned after a couple of spoonfuls
– Mushrooms stuffed with sausage – good
– Penne Ala Vodka – Ok
– Hot Rocks – basically your choice of seafood, vegetables and meat (sausage, steak, chicken) searved on a sizzling stone plate. Huge portion. Kind of a fun thing to eat.
– Moussaka – a dud

We didn’t try desserts because the waiter said “you guys have eaten too much, you don’t need dessert”. What the heck was that? This waiter either thought he was funny or pretty much uninterested in serving. I choose the latter based on his performance throughout dinner.

So, I’ve tried it and can now say that I won’t be back.

3 Responses to “Underground Cafe, Princeton, NJ”

  1. Underground Cafe is a dud. I would agree with the review – very cheesy decor and very average food. I had the Hot Rocks – the salmon was good, but the steak became overcooked (that’s because the rock is really hot – hence the name – and the meat continues to cook). Not a place I would return to.

  2. disappointing! the chicken & mashroom crepe with mashroom sauce is a small crepe wrap with chicken, hardly tast the gruyere cheese, the mashroom sauce is the campbell mashroom soup. Its luke warm, its microwaved!! not freshly prepared. How dare they serve such dish ? My daughter’s Moussaka is made of potato and some meat, where is the eggplant? It was served microwaved, My son’s chicken piccata, the chicken tasted OK, the chicken looked like someone had it before him, it served with refried potato/homefried instead of pasta. The desert is recommeded by the waitress- its Re-fried brownies and cheese cake kaboo. all of our salad looked sad – dry and limpy. The wait staffs are good. The food is edible, will not be back. The place is nice and comfy, how can they survive with this type of food?

  3. I meet some friends at the undergound and had a great dinner and the wait staff was great a must revist

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