French-ish (Cargot Brasserie)

Cargot Brasserie, 98 University Place, Princeton, NJ
Open 7 days: Su-Tu 7 AM - 9 PM; W-Sa 7 AM- 10 PM
(609) 772-4934   Website    Google Maps

Gravitas:   Decor:   Cost:   Proximity:

Cafe Un, Deux, Trois  is one of our “go to” places in New York City for a meal before a Broadway show.  Cargot — an updated, Princeton-take on a similar dining concept — may assume a similar role for when we take in a show at McCarter (which is literally across the street).

cargot exteriorCargot opened in July of 2017 in a handsome stone structure that used to be the “cargo depot” for the Princeton Junction train station (the “Dinky”), the little spur line that connects downtown Princeton to the mainline at Princeton Junction.  The renovation is gorgeous, elegant but still casual:  you can feel comfortable dining at Cargot in anything ranging from blue jeans and a tee shirt to a business suit.cargot interior

Open 7 days, breakfast through dinner, Cargot serves a straight-forward, post-modern take on a classic French brasserie.  Post modern because you’ll find entrees and hors d’oevres that vegans and vegetarians can enjoy.  For ominivoires, the menu spans fish, poultry, and meats grilled or stewed.

troutAt a recent dinner my wife enjoyed a trout filet served on a bed of Tuscan kale, hazelnuts, and sauce muniere.  I ordered the roasted duck (header image): the dark meat (drumstick and thigh) was roasted to a crisp; the breast was broiled to order (in my case medium rare) and served on a complex structure of mashed turnips, diced turnips, and kale with l’orange jus.  Both were superb.  We’ve heard from friends that the menu can be somewhat hit and miss (not surprising in a restaurant that had been open one full week on the day we sampled it).  Still, we’ll stipulate that the food is extremely good and getting better.  Operated by the same restaurant group that owns Agricola in downtown Princeton, Cargot uses many of the same local, “farm to table” sources.

Cargot is not cheap, particularly when ordering from the dinner menu:  we had a light meal with only our entree: no hors d’oevres (other than the delicious gougères — miniature, cheesy, croissants — that came with our order), no dessert, no coffee.  My wife  ordered a single glass of wine and I drank a single bottle of beer (Cargot does have a full liquor license with cocktails).  The check came to $75 before tip.  Entree’s range from $24-34; starters $8-13.

The breakfast and lunch menus are both substantially less expensive — an omelette is $12; a burger is $16.  Not exactly bargains, but reasonable pricing for a location, decor, and service.  There is a patio where in season you can dine outside.  I have no doubt that Cargot will become a popular dining spot, particularly for brunch, and particularly when there is a performance at McCarter.

Click for ALL reviews in these related categories:
Bars | French/Continental | Restaurants

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *