Tonight Zelda was taking me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday, and we opted to give Bistro One 53 a try in Rocky Hill. Rocky Hill is located just a few minutes North of Princeton off of Route 206, and Bistro One 53 is one of it's treasures.
We came to Bistro One 53 and were greeted by off-street parking, which is a bonus compared to some restaurants in the Princeton area, or other nearby areas such as Bordentown or Lambertville. I had no problems finding a spot, and once parked, we walked up to the restaurant.
Upon walking up to the door, we were greeted by a simple looking exterior, with sharp lines and nice coloring. The exterior might be a bit understated, but sometimes less is more! Upon walking in, the owner immediately sat us at a two top for our reservation at 6:30PM.
Looking around the restaurant, there were a few 5 and 6 tops already seated, and various 2, 3, and 4 tops sipping cocktails, having appetizers, enjoying their dinners, or enjoying a nice conversation with the owner. The décor in the restaurant is nice and warm. Gorgeous, light wood grain garnishes the bar, and serves as accents around the restaurant. Warm, golden yellow walls adorn the restaurant, and it makes for a very cozy place to enjoy some conversation and great food.
Gerard was our server, and very friendly. We started off with two glasses of '06 pinotnoir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Unfortunately, I cannot remember which wine it was exactly...shocking, I know! I am usually very good with this. Regardless, we ordered our wine, and it came out just a minute or so later, along with some fresh bread and a dipping sauce. The dipping sauce was very interesting, and we were not able to dissect it to figure out what it was made from. Chickpeas perhaps? Hard to tell, but it was nice.
On to the menu...WOW! There are many great items on this menu that I look forward to coming back to try. The appetizers range anywhere from 4 different salads, to foiegras, to a cheese plate. Many of them looked great as we saw them coming out of the kitchen and on to customers tables! We opted for the Maine Mussels in White Wine Broth with Garlic Toast, and we were not disappointed.
Out came this big bowl of mussels, and they looked and smelled gorgeous. The mussels were delicately cooked, and were absolutely perfect. The broth was composed of a nice white wine, and had a hint of tomato to it, giving it a nice light color, and adding a nice flavor. There were also hints of garlic and butter, and it was served with a nice piece of garlic toast, that was perfect for dipping in the tasty, leftover broth. All I can say is that this is a winner, and I look forward to trying it again once we try some of the other offerings.
On to dinner, Zelda opted for the Asparagus Ravioli with Morel Mushrooms and EVOO, with a side of French Lentils. Note that the sides are ala cart, but that is not a big deal. The ravioli itself was extremely fresh, and I found it to be absolutely perfect...from the pasta itself, to the cheese, to the subtle hints of asparagus packed inside. The sauce itself was light and flavorful, and perfectly seasoned. There was also a healthy dose of asparagus, as well as round, thing sliced pieces of asparagus, and morel mushrooms. This was a great dish. As for the lentils, this is the only gripe I think that we have about Bistro One 53(other than the fact that it is not a BYO). Although the lentils were cooked nicely, with good flavor, they seemed to be a bit on the gritty side, and could have used a better bath before being cooked. Overall, not that big of a deal.
I opted for the Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops with wilted Lettuce & Pancetta/Mustard Vinaigrette. Shortly after ordering, I couldn't help but ask Gerard to also add a side of the Hand-Cut French Fries with Truffle Mayo. These were coming out of the kitchen left and right, and I didn't see a single table without them. I had to give them a try!
Out came the scallops, and the presentation was beautiful. 4 nice, large, and succulent scallops surrounding a nice helping of the warm lettuce salad. Each scallop had a small piece of chive garnishing it, and it looked gorgeous. The scallops were cooked exactly how I like them, and they were nice and tender, and cooked right all the way through. These were seasoned perfectly, and I have ZERO gripes about them. The salad itself was nice, and the pancetta was diced very small, giving it a nice flavor. There was a very pungent taste to the salad, which added a nice complexity. It was very citus-y, but we couldn't put our fingers on it, and had to ask Gerard. Turns out it was just small pieces of lemon, and we're guessing that it may have been Meyer lemon. Whatever it was, it was delish, and I would order it again.
Unfortunately, we skipped dessert and opted to hit the local ice cream shop in town instead. They did however bring out 4 small gingerbread like cookies, that had a nice chocolate chip inside. These were a treat, and I would love to have a handful of these after lunch every day. They were great!
Overall, I can't say anything but great things for Bistro One 53, and we look forward to frequenting again very soon. A few random notes:
One of the things that stuck out the most is the customer service! From the time we walked in and were greeted by the owner, to our waiter Gerard, to the bus staff, to the food runners. The service was great and spot on.
I really enjoyed was seeing the owner working the room, and taking the time to chat with his regular customers. This is something that you don't see enough of anymore, and it seems as though he truly cares. Yes, I know he is in business to make money, but the conversations we overheard seemed genuine.
I also like the fact that he seems to know a thing or two about wine, and that is a bonus. Restaurants we've been to in the past just seem all about the best deals they can get on wine from their distributor, that have the largest margins of profit. His markups didn't seem to be outrageous in the least, and he had a nice, diverse selection of some wines we have enjoyed in the past. Some notables included Frog's Leap, Conundrum(love it or hate it), Seghesio, and Ojai.
Check them out on June 11th for a book signing with Benjamin Wallace, who wrote The Billionaire's Vinegar. We hope to make this event, and again, it solidifies my thought of the owners love for vino.
They also have a cellar downstairs that you can reserve for larger parties, to have dinner in the cellar. This is a feature that I absolutely love, and something that I hope that we get to try in the future.
Ambiance: it's simple, but elegant. This is a place that I would have no problem stopping at in a suit for a drink or dinner, or in blue jeans after a casual day of shopping. They also have a nice bar that seats about a dozen, and it would be a great place to grab a sandwich instead of sitting at a table. The place is just the right size, and you aren't overwhelmed by the size of the dining room, yet you are not feeling confined either.
All I can say, is keep up the great work, and we look forward to frequenting Bistro One 53 many times in the months to come! More notes when I get a chance! Cheers!
ONE 53153 Washington Street
Rocky Hill, NJ 08553
Call Us : 609.921.0153
Email Anytime : info@ONE53NJ.comhttp://www.one53nj.com/
Online Directions : google map link
Welcome to F. Scott's Foodie and wine adventures in and around New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and more recetly Old Town Alexandria and the DC Metro! Stay tuned for reviews of the latest up and coming East Coast establishments, and up and coming wineries! Cheers!
Born in Illinois, I spent my younger years as a local Chicago Foodie checking out restaurants in the city, and working as a waiter at many of the finest restaurants in the suburbs of Chicago. Look for me visiting a restaurant near you, or at one of the many local wine offlines throughout New Jersey