Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 7
 
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton



DINING OUT: “We are set apart by the quality of our products, the price points, and the level of execution. And I am obsessed by freshness!” Dennis Foy, shown with his wife and business partner, Estella Quinones-Foy, is chef-owner of Dennis Foy’s Restaurant in Lawrenceville.

Mediterranean-Influenced American Cuisine Is Offered at Dennis Foy’s New Restaurant

The Lawrenceville Inn has a new look. Outwardly, it is the same charming 1892 farmhouse, but its interior features the cuisine and paintings of new owner/chef/painter Dennis Foy. Food for the body and soul!

Mr. Foy’s long career in offering fine cuisine has taken him from Manhattan to Bay Head and beyond. In addition to owning his own restaurants, he has consulted on many projects developing new restaurants and rejuvenating existing establishments.

A classically trained chef, he studied under such renowned chefs as Michel Gerard and Marc Meneau in Michelin star rated restaurants in France.

“I have consulted all over, including New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Aspen, and even Africa,” he explains. “This includes being involved in all facets of the projects: the focus, the kitchen design, the personnel, as well as the cuisine.”

Now, he and his wife and business partner — director of operations — Estella Quinones-Foy have opened Dennis Foy’s Restaurant on the site of the former Lawrenceville Inn at 2691 Main Street.

Ultimate Dinner Party

“I had retired from the restaurant business, closing my restaurant in Bay Head after 20 years, and I found I missed it,” reports Mr. Foy. “As Estella and I drove around the area, we were nostalgic for the relationship of being hosts and having guests in your “house”. For that’s really what it is: the ultimate dinner party!”

As the Foys explored the Princeton area, they were struck by the abundance of local farms and farmstands, all offering fresh and often organic produce, dairy, and protein products. “We bought some peaches here, and I went home and made a peach cobbler. I started cooking again in my kitchen.

“There is a wealth of gardens in the area here, and I realized that this is what I’ve been looking for,” he continues. “In our exploration, everything leads to a garden, to a farm stand, and back to the table. There is everything here — dairy, cheese, eggs, tomatoes, peaches, local beef, fresh seafood. There’s the Griggstown Farm for chicken. We don’t have to travel more than 50 miles. The resources available for same-day procurement are incredible.”

When the Lawrenceville Inn became available, the Foys did not hesitate. Interestingly, the Inn had been one of Mr. Foy’s consulting projects several years ago.

Local Ingredients

“We were conscious of the need for a contemporary, reasonably-priced restaurant in the Princeton area,” says Mr. Foy. “The restaurant design satisfies our aesthetic concept: a local, organic, sustainable ‘Farm to Table’-driven menu.”

Mediterranean-influenced contemporary American cuisine is featured, with a focus on fresh, local ingredients.

“It’s so Mediterranean — Italian and French. It’s the ‘Cuisine of the Sun’,” says Ms. Quinones-Foy with a smile. “Everything is so fresh, including fish from the boat. We make bread here daily and homemade pasta every day — our sauteed gnocchi with sage is very popular. And our menu changes all the time. We are very seasonally-driven.”

“All entrees are $24 and under, except for certain specials, which can be more, and all appetizers are pre-fixed at $10,” adds Mr. Foy. “It’s fabulous food prepared by a major chef. I have very high standards, and I have a very fine staff. There are 100 years of experience in our kitchen!”

Popular Items

Popular items on the dinner menu include such appetizers as organic greens, with poached apples and walnuts; butternut squash soup and pumpkin seeds; and roast bell pepper, crab, eggplant, caviar EVO. Pasta entrees include veal Bolognese, spaghetti with meatballs, and fettuccini carbonara. Other entrees offered are seared salmon with apple rosemary puree, Brussels sprouts, tomato, and lardons; seared red snapper with fennel confit, Parisian potatoes, and thyme.

Classic cassoulet Toulouse; seared prime dry aged sirloin with mashed potatoes and peas; sauteed scallops with cauliflower puree, onion fondue, and potato galette; and roasted loin of lamb with fondant potato and ratatouille are other favorites.

There are typically 10 entrees and five or six appetizers on the menu.

Lunches feature pasta, salads, and sandwiches, including roasted eggplant sandwich with roasted tomato, and red bell pepper; warm chicken salad with bacon, tomato, and red onion mixed greens; and a special signature hamburger, served on brioche, with tomato confit, and sauteed mushrooms.

Two especially popular desserts include homemade chocolate royale and anise cinnamon bread pudding served with honey maple ice cream.

Reverse Commuters

Regular customers come from around the area and beyond, report the Foys. “We are even getting reverse commuters from New York and Philadelphia. And they like to try things. If four people come in together, they will order four different entrees.”

In addition to the quality of the food and presentation, customers enjoy the attractive decor, all with a different color motif, and all with an elegant simplicity. “We wanted something intimate — not too big, something that reflects our sensibilities,” points out Mr. Foy. “What we are doing here is a very good fit for us.”

Mr. Foy’s paintings, including a number of lovely seascapes and beach scenes as well as vivid contemporary abstract art, are displayed throughout the restaurant. An accomplished painter, Mr. Foy regularly exhibits his work in galleries in New York and elsewhere. His designs are also seen on the restaurant’s menus.

The restaurant accommodates 60, and is also available for private parties. “We have had events such as bridal showers and parties, and even a wedding ceremony,” reports Ms. Quinones-Foy. “We look forward to more events, including Mother’s Day.

“We pay careful attention to every detail,” she continues, “and we plan to have al fresco dining in the spring and also a garden with pretty flowers all over. I enjoy the interaction with the guests so much, and being able to see the smiles when people are eating and having fun and enjoying our wonderful cuisine.”

The restaurant does not have a liquor license, and many guests like to bring a bottle of wine, she adds.

Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 to 10. Reservations are strongly recommended. (609) 219-1900. Website: dennisfoyrestaurant.com.

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