Authentic Pasture-To-Table Fine Dining Is the Hallmark of Brick Farm Tavern
DISTINCTIVE DINING: “Our focus is pasture-to-table, rustic cooking with European influences, and we offer an exceptional location,” explain Maria and Otto Zizak, operation directors at Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell. They are enjoying the restaurant’s patio, very popular for outdoor dining.
By Jean Stratton
Diners who come to Brick Farm Tavern not only have the chance to enjoy special pasture-to-table cuisine, but also the choice of several different dining settings, both indoors and outdoors.
These separate enclaves offer an inviting ambiance, whether one opts for the Library, the Living Room, the Wine Cellar, or the Tavern indoors, or the charming outdoor patio. The informal Dog Run Bar, with a series of picnic tables and umbrellas, and where well-behaved dogs are welcome, is still another option. A large tented area is also available for private events.
There certainly is something for everyone’s taste at this historic, meticulously restored 1820s farmhouse with its spacious grounds, including nearby working barns and fields. Truly farm-to-table!
Located at 130 Hopewell Rocky Hill Road (Route 518), it was opened in 2015 by Robin and Jon McConaughy, who also own Double Brook Farm and are founders and partners of the Brick Farm Market in Hopewell. The Tavern is now under the guidance of operation directors Otto and Maria Zizak.
Formerly owners of the popular Ottoburger restaurant in Hopewell, the Zizaks have long experience in the food business.
Natives of what was once Czechoslovakia, they both came from families for whom good food with healthy ingredients was emphasized. Otto moved to the U.S. when he was 14, and Maria followed later, after graduating from college with an M.B. in economics. They were married, and became involved in five restaurants, including two in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Their cuisine was acclaimed by customers and critics alike, and their popular Korso Burger twice earned the “Best Burger in New York” award. Their restaurants also received wide coverage in numerous publications.
Despite their continuing success in the Big Apple, Otto and Maria and their three children wanted a change. “We had been looking for a farm so that we could grow our own vegetables and provide farm-to-table service for our customers,” explains Otto Zizak. “A few years ago, we found a farm here in Hopewell with 53 acres, where we grow beets, beans, potatoes, and carrots, and we plan to add fruit crops.
“We had been drawn to the culture, values, and agricultural riches of central New Jersey,” he continues. “We especially liked Hopewell. It has the feeling of a country town, and a bit of European flavor, with friendly people walking around and interacting. A community with an actual downtown.”
Ottoburger became a big success despite its opening during the height of the pandemic, and the Zizaks formed a relationship with Robin and Jon McConaughy.
“We have neighboring farms,” says Otto. “We grow organic alfalfa to sell to their Double Brook Farm for the cattle, and we used their beef and pork for our menus at Ottoburger.”
Then, last April, a new opportunity presented itself, when the Zizaks joined the McConaughys at Brick Farm Tavern as operations directors. Otto is also operations director at Brick Farm Market, and Maria is the manager.
“We began to outgrow the space at Ottoburger, and we were thinking of how to blend the farm and retail in the most efficient way,” explains Otto. “The way Brick Farm Tavern blends within the natural landscape and environment is important to us. We are part of the surroundings, and we try to be respectful of the surroundings. I especially like to see the connection between the farm and the food, as it is cooked into the entrees. It is truly farm-to-table. We use the meat, chickens, and heritage turkeys from Double Brook Farm, and we grow the produce on our own nearby farm.”
The McConaughys look forward to this association with the Zizaks.
“From the time Otto and Maria moved to Hopewell, and opened Ottoburger in the middle of the pandemic, we have partnered with them in their search for the best beef and pork for their restaurant,” says Robin McConaughy. “Since they have taken over operations of the Brick Farm Tavern and Brick Farm Market, Jon and I have been thrilled to see the extension of our own founding mission — to offer the best food in the most sustainable way possible — reflected in their approach from day one.
“Farmers in their own right, and restaurateurs for decades, they bring the perfect experience and drive to further our original mission, and to continue developing the businesses with their own imprint. We could not have asked for better partners.”
Indeed, now overseeing the operations at the Tavern, the Zizaks bring their long experience and skill to all aspects of the business, including the menu.
Lunch and dinner are served, and diners have opportunities to try many farm-to-table options, with everything prepared to
order. Customers have their favorites, of course, but many people like to sample a variety of the choices, including both vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Among the signature entrees are the Double Brook Farm Half Chicken, the Braised Wood Lot Pork Shank, and the Berkshire Pork Schnitzel. Also, the 100 percent grass-fed Devon Beef Burger is always a favorite.
Popular salads include the Rolling Hills Green Salad with heirloom mixed greens, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, raisins, toasted almonds, corn bread crumble, and mustard vinaigrette. This is meant to be shared.
Assorted small plates are also offered. Among them are Poutine Pierogi, Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly, and Double Brook Steak Tartare.
Popular lunch choices include Pulled Pork Hash, Chicken Fried Steak, Croque Madame Sandwich, and Truffle Pesto Mushroom Wrap, among many others, including handmade empanadas, an artisanal cheese plate, and chicken and waffles.
Desserts are a specialty, and most customers never turn down an opportunity to tease their sweet tooth. Favorites include seasonal Galette, with vanilla creme anglaise, graham cracker crumb, and vanilla ice cream; Chocolate Mousse, with caramel, peanut butter brittle, and chocolate feuilletine and gold leaf; and Lavender Creme Brulée with macerated strawberries. These are just a sampling of mouthwatering favorites.
Coffee, including espresso, cappuccino, and latte, and teas are available, as is a selection of soft drinks, featuring Boylan’s Real Sugar Sodas.
In addition, beer, wine, and spirits are offered —with the very popular award-winning Troon beers from the Troon Brewing facility located on the Tavern grounds — wines from area vineyards, and every possible cocktail imaginable. Spirits include selections from the nearby Sourland Mountain Spirits Distillery.
All in all, a visit to Brick Farm Tavern will not only please the palate, but provide a charming setting in which to enjoy lunch or dinner.
“We are a destination restaurant in an historic building,” point out the Zizaks. “We have high standards, and we believe that good, high quality food should be accessible to everyone, and we find that people are so happy to be able to eat out and come together again after having been confined during COVID.
“We have many regular customers from Princeton and the area, as well as from Bucks County, Philadelphia, and New York. They appreciate that, as our mission, we present our local sourcing not as a concept but as delicious food on your plate. All aspects of a meal at the Tavern start on our farm. We are responsible for our animals, our plants, our soil, our environment.”
Seating is available for 130 diners inside and 50 outside. There is also Chef’s Seating where diners can watch meals prepared in the kitchen.
The Zizaks look forward to a happy future at Brick Farm Tavern and within the community.
“The community has been very welcoming to us, and our customers are very involved. It’s like a conversation. We welcome their ideas and requests. We like to see people enjoying themselves, relaxing, and having a good lunch or dinner. Come and join us!”
Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m.; lunch Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended. (609) 333-9200. Website: brickfarmtavern.com.