Inside Scoop: Agricola Eatery

Dining room at Agricola Eatery, Princeton

At the end of last week, we excitedly announced that Agricola Eatery (say it with us: Ag-‘ri-ko-la) would be opening for business.  For the past seven months, the site at 11 Witherspoon Street – the space formerly known as Lahiere’s – was a hub of activity.  The buzz on the street reached a fever pitch by Sunday March 10, and when the team at Agricola removed the butcher paper that was covering the windows, they were met by a crowded sidewalk of neighbors, eagerly awaiting the restaurant’s unveiling.

The farm-to-table restaurant celebrates the art of food & community. (Agricola, after all, is the Latin word for farmer.)  With a menu that features locally grown and sourced ingredients – many of which will come from its Great Road Farm located 4 miles outside of Princeton – Agricola’s menu offers seasonal, rustic dishes, prepared artfully and with care, to be shared with friends.

We stepped inside the restaurant and were greeted by owner Jim Nawn, who gave us a tour of the space (amidst our constant chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’!)  We passed the bar area – visible from the windows on Witherspoon Street – with its backdrop display of bottles, and were lead through each of the four distinct dining rooms.  Making use of rustic detailing, and with plenty of nods to the restaurants farm-centric philosophy, the dining rooms were spacious yet cozy.

Downstairs, a cellar dining room seats up to 50 guests, and is used for daily service but is also available for private events.  An intimate dining room on the main level offers a large window onto Witherspoon Street, and an open view of Agricola’s beautiful kitchen.  (If you haven’t passed by already, you’ll see that the chefs are on display, as the kitchen has large windows on Witherspoon Street, as well!)

But enough about the space – we know you want to hear about the food!  We sat down with Executive Chef Josh Thomsen, who comes to Agricola by way of French Laundry and Patina in California & Nobhill at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  In addition to curating Agricola’s menu, Chef Josh teamed up with Great Road Farm’s Steve Tomlinson to browse seed catalogs & plan out what seasonal produce he’d like to feature on his plates.  With the spring growing season around the corner, Jim says peas & greens are in the spotlight in the farm’s greenhouses this week.

The menu reflects Agricola’s commitment to local, and the chef has forged relationships with local purveyors to find the freshest, seasonal foods.  When we asked what dish may be the customer favorite so far, Chef Josh asserted that in the three days Agricola has been open for service he’s seen consistent interest in every item on the menu, including their Farmhouse Menu, a full-meal version of a tasting menu that currently features a salad of Little Gem lettuces, Florida Red Snapper with turnip chowder, and finished with a fudge brownie sundae.

As our eyes flitted between dishes like the Creekstone Farms Braised Beef Short Ribs (with roasted root vegetables & horseradish gremolata) and the House-Made Sausage Flatbread (prepared in their wood-fired oven), owner Jim Nawn raved about the Wild Mushroom Stew.  Chef Josh shared that he’s loved the diners reactions to the Braised Veal Shank: a 4 lb. piece of veal that serves four and is served family style with creamy polenta, tomato conserva & wilted spinach.

Hungry yet? Make your reservation by calling the restaurant or booking online. 

We’d like to give a special ‘thank  you’ to photographer Karin Belgrave, who joined us to shoot our visit to Agricola.  Check out her website here.

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