The word Agricola means farmer in Latin, and there couldn’t be a more perfect name for this restaurant. Driven by the micro-seasonal offerings of their local farm, Agricola brings farm fresh produce right from their organic soil onto your plate. Jim Naun as Agricola’s proprietor, Josh Thomson as its executive chef, and Steve Tomlinson as its farm manager come together to build a restaurant dream team, and the proof is on your plate. Each plate comes delicately and deliberately seasoned and sauced, with the utmost respect for the integrity of the ingredients. The light-handed touch of the kitchen allows the bright flavors and textures of the ingredients to shine, without bogging them down with unnecessary heavy sauces and overpowering spices.
Dedicated to their community, Agricola sources its produce and livestock from Great Road Farm, just four miles from downtown Princeton. Using sustainable and organic farming methods, Great Road Farm supplies Agricola with a steady stream of top-notch ingredients to build its ever-evolving menu around. Their winter menu centers around hearty greens, robust root vegetables, earthy mushrooms, and slow-braised tender meats.
We started with drinks and the cheese plate at Agricola’s beautiful and cozy bar. Selections of top shelf name brand liquors share shelf space with small batch local distilleries and micro-breweries, with several organic liquor options among them. The Great “Dirt” Road Farm Martini, named after their farm, mixes Crop organic vodka, brine, and a judicious amount of dry vermouth, and comes garnished with Great Road Farm house pickled vegetables. They also offer house-made sodas in interesting flavor combinations like maple-rosemary-grapefruit and ginger-pomegranate. The cheese plate made a lasting impression on our table, with its fresh honeycomb, seasonal chutney, and house-made crackers to accompany a selection of local cheese.
At my dinner, we started with the bright and barely dressed kale salad, the parsnip soup, and the goat cheese & potato terrine. The kale salad at first bite seemed lacking in dressing, but a few bites in allowed you to appreciate the delicate flavors of the roasted carrots, pickled squash, and pumpkin seed vinaigrette. The parsnip soup, served with red beet chips, tasted earthy and sharp, with a silky smooth finish. The goat cheese & potato terrine, with roasted beets, peppery micro arugula, and a sharp balsamic syrup, elevates simple ingredients into something special.
For main courses, we ordered the pappardelle pasta, the yellow fin tuna, and the pork chop. The pappardelle pasta tasted deliciously, deceptively light. Only a skilled chef can make pasta, butter, and braised meat taste delicate and light. Braised veal ossobuco, homemade pappardelle pasta, shredded kale are tossed together in a diaphanous buttery broth, and topped with a sprinkling of herbed gremolata and fresh parmesan. Easily one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. The yellow fin tuna, served with leeks, freekeh, black garlic, olives, toasted coriander vinaigrette, was perfectly seared and delicately spiced. The sizable bone-in pork chop, from nearby Eden Farms, came with a pomegranate-pistachio relish, braised collard greens, and a tangy cider jus that carefully balanced the richness of the meat.
Selecting from Agricola’s menu proved a challenge, not because of its size but because everything sounded so darn delicious. I appreciated the curated and not overwhelming size of the menu, with eight first courses, seven main courses, three sizes, and three flatbreads from their wood fire oven. The butternut squash flatbread, with squash puree, kale, coach farm goat cheese, caramelized red onion, and toasted almonds is at the top of my list for my next visit.
For dessert, we shared the citrus cheesecake and the gingerbread ice cream sandwiches. The cheesecake tasted light and bright, with a vanilla bean shortbread, grapefruit curd, and a blood orange chip. The gingerbread ice cream sandwiches are a dream come true, with butter pecan ice cream sandwiched between tender house-made gingerbread cookies, and drizzled with a maple sauce. Perfection all around.
Agricola is open for weekend brunch Saturday and Sunday, for lunch Monday-Friday, and dinner every day of the week. Its bar is open late most nights.
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