Metro North, Princeton NJ

Metro North in Princeton NJ occupies the space that was previously occupied by JL Ivey, a restaurant that had a confused identify and food to match – confused and lousy. It really wasn’t surprising that they went out of business pretty quickly. The good news is that Metro North does actually have an identity, the question really is whether the food is any better then it’s predecessor.

As a restaurant space, Metro North is quite nice. I really did like the restaurant and bar area, especially the bar area. They’ve created a comfortable, inviting bar area with it’s flat screen TV and sofas. The bar scene is vibrant and has an energy about it. Not surprisingly it was completely packed. The dining area was packed too which was surprising since it was pretty easy to get a same day reservation for 6 people on a saturday night. The restaurant is quite noisy, but it seems to work for them.

Service was willing but a little haphazard and slow. It seemed like they were short staffed. Getting our drinks, paying the bill all took way too long. Talking about drinks, I wanted to get a glass of wine but the list was short and not inspiring. Actually, I couldn’t fine a single wine I wanted so I ended up ordering a beer which is always my reluctant fallback position. I should have known what kind of wine list they would have as soon as I saw that Blue Moon was a “bar special”. Seriously? Blue Moon!

Onto the food. We decided to share calamari, polenta fries and chicken wings with a chili lime bbq. The calamari was tasty but seemed like they had been cooked earlier, the polenta fries are better forgotten and the wings were pretty good though a tad on the sweet side. For the main course I wanted the short rib special but 10 minutes after placing the order the waitress returned to tell me they were out of it. It was only 8.30. How could they be out of it already? And I couldn’t see any of the tables eating it. Come on, if you are going to have it as a special, how about ordering a couple of extra? I ended up with the pork chop. They had 2 types, 1 seemed overly fussy so I went for the grilled version, substituting my veggies with broccoli rabe for an extra charge. The pork chop was underseasoned and just didn’t taste great even after adding salt and pepper. When compared to the versions I’ve had at One 53 and Eno Terra, this was a poor facsimile. Others at the table ordered italian sausage bolognese, 2 other pastas and a burger. The burger was ok, the pasta with shrimp was bland and the pasta with porcini seemed completely drenched in sauce.

Overall, the food was nothing to rave about, though prices are quite moderate. The restaurant is reminiscent of strip mall pasta & pizza joint that is trying to go upscale. The restaurant space is great but unfortunately the food, wine and service do not deliver, blending in with the bulk of mediocre Princeton restaurants. I won’t be back.

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