Vol. LXII, No. 12
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
BEST BAR: The theme of the decor is a European-style coffee-wine bar. Its tied in with the restaurant, but different. I thought there was a need for a cool lounge, with a small plate menu. Jim Weaver, chef-owner of Tre Piani Restaurant and the new TreBar, is shown in the bars sunken lounge, a favorite spot for private gatherings.
TreBar is très bon! This new coffee/wine bar, affiliated with Tre Piani Restaurant at 120 Rockingham Row in Princeton Forrestal Village, has become a hot spot for drinks before dinner, after dinner, as well as for small plate lunch and supper.
Its everything and anything. There can be any combination, says chef/owner Jim Weaver, who also owns Tre Piani Restaurant.
It was always my wife Kims dream to open a wine bar in Princeton. When this space became available, adjacent to Tre Piani, the dream came true, he adds. We did a major renovation. We like to focus on local businesses, and got our wrought iron furniture through Tuscan Hills in Princeton, and our pottery and plates from John Shedd in Rocky Hill.
Opened in October 2007, it can accommodate 65 in a charming and inviting setting, featuring wrought iron bar chairs and tables, and a sunken lounge with sectional sofa. It is also notable for a striking cut-glass chandelier, hand-blown in different shapes and colors, which was custom-made for TreBar by Belle Mead Hot Glass.
Customers have definitely discovered TreBar, with regulars showing up for lunch, before and after dinner, or for a light supper, specializing in the bars signature tapas. The live music on Wednesday nights, provided by Spanish guitarist Arturo Romay is another plus. We thought it added a nice energy, says Mr. Weaver
The wine bar has exceeded my expectations, he adds. Its everything we had hoped for and more. Because of the demand, Ive had to change the menu more often than I expected. Customers are eating everything! I really have been overwhelmed by the response to the bar, and we have also had great reviews in the press.
As an award-winning chef, and especially one who has been instrumental in bringing the Slow Food movement to New Jersey, Mr. Weaver could not be more pleased. I love getting lost in the kitchen, and I get there as much as I can.
But now, as sole owner of Tre Piani and TreBar, he has additional administrative responsibilities. Theres a lot of overseeing and making sure that things run smoothly, he points out. We need to be on top of everything. We always concentrate on quality and do things the old-fashioned way. Its real food, made fresh to order. No microwaves, no walk-in freezers. We use local products whenever possible. Its the same choices as in Tre Piani, and the Slow Food way of doing things is important.
Slow Food is an international organizational grass roots movement, he explains. It began in Italy, and I started the New Jersey Chapter. What it does is to promote, preserve, and protect conviviality, local food, flavor, and tradition. Its a return to the table as a source of pleasure. We support local farmers, fishermen, and cheese and meat people. In TreBar, we offer a variety of small plate dishes and tapas. We have raw milk cheeses, including local ones. Our cheese boards offer three or five different cheeses.
Lunch includes homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches.
We agreed it was the best turkey sandwich wed ever tasted, reports an out-of-town TreBar lunch guest, The bread was delicious, and we also shared a perfectly-prepared pumpkin sage soup and their original hummus salad.
Other sandwiches include honey-baked ham, homemade roast beef, homemade chicken salad, and Italian combo foccacia.
The bars small plate menu offers cold or hot dishes, such as pate du jour, bruschetta with homemade preserved tuna in olive oil, and oyster half shell, which are especially popular. Hot plates include Tuscan-style meatballs (a blend of pork, veal, beef pancetta and sage, with brown butter); miniature filet mignon with red wine-mustard butter; wild mushrooms baked with olive oil, garlic and sherry; and mini pulled pork panini with cole slaw.
TreBar offers coffee, including espresso and cappuccino, and the bar can provide a variety of Irish coffees. It has a complete range of wines and spirits, with a special focus on wine. We have 30 different wines by the glass, and we also offer Wine Flights, a sampling of three different wines, says Mr. Weaver.
The latter could include Italia White, with vernaccia le rote, gavi pio cesare, and verdicchio marchetti; or Italia Red, with dolcetto prunotto, negroamaro tormaresca, and cabernet-sangiovese castello banfi, among many other choices.
And as in so many drinking establishments today, specialty cocktails, such as raspberry martinis and the like, are also favored by the clientele.
Customers are coming from all over, reports Mr. Weaver. We have lots of Tre Piani clients, and weve developed a whole new level of clientele in the bar, who have become TreBar regulars. People come not only from Princeton and the area, but from all over, including Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Staten Island, New York City, etc. We also do lots of private parties.
They really enjoy TreBars atmosphere, he continues. Ive been in the food business 28 years, and Ive found that if youre going to be set apart, you have to create your own style, with ambiance, food, and service. Its fun being involved in making something happen. I look forward to seeing it all continue, and Ill fine-tune it, and try to add something new. For example, in the spring we will offer outside seating. We look forward to that.
TreBar is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 a.m and for dinner seven days from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. (609) 452-1515. Website: www.trepiani.com.
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