In 2002, the Chambers Walk Café was a catering company with a restaurant attached. Now, it’s a restaurant with a catering company, cooking classes and a multitude of local sources for its ingredients.
“We’re just interested in being sustainable and having Lawrenceville being its own sustainable economy,” said owner Laura Mangone.
Not only does the café use local ingredients on its menu – whatever is in season from local farmers, said Mario, Laura’s husband and co-owner – but they provide food back in the form of scraps for animal farmers.
The café, at 2667 Main Street in Lawrenceville, may have only been open in its current location for five years, but it has actually been around since 1986. In that year, the café opened on Chambers Walk in Princeton, giving the business its name.
Soon catering outgrew the dining side of the business, and in 1990 the café moved to a location in Trenton where they focused on catering alone.
In 2002, the Mangones found an old building for sale in Lawrence, a former grocery store and town hardware store. It was the perfect place for a new restaurant, and was set up to allow the café to have an open kitchen, a design feature that was becoming popular at the time.
Patrons can watch head chef David Ecolano prepare meals while dining at a bar next to the kitchen, though Chambers Walk is BYOB.
“It’s entertainment for patrons who may be dining alone,” Laura said.
For lunch, the 65-seat dining area is open Monday though Friday. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday.
The lunch menu is mostly sandwiches with an upscale twist. Take the Hangar Steak Sandwich, which is served on a baguette with caramelized onions, Vermont cheddar and chipotle lime aioli for $9.
Mario said the most popular lunch item is the Carolina pulled pork with black coffee barbecue sauce on pane rustico served with vinegar slaw ($8.25.)
The sandwich was featured in Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA, a collection of 425 barbecue recipes from around the country.
Mario said it’s a bit early to judge the most popular dinner dish, since the restaurant recently changed its menu to take advantage of seasonal foods.
So far, the salmon is the most-ordered dish, Mario said. The pecan lime-crusted organic king salmon is served over collard greens and mashed sweet potatoes ($23.)
The most popular land-based dish is the Oven-roasted Griggstown farm chicken over sautéed spinach topped with red onion jam at $21.
There is also a family-friendly “bistro basics” menu during dinner with hearty sandwiches.
That the restaurant uses many locally-grown ingredients is no accident, and it’s not just the Chambers Walk café that’s doing it. The café is part of the Lawrenceville Culinary Partnership, which includes several local restaurants, farms, and the farmers market.
Another way to get your hands on those local ingredients is to take the cooking classes offered Monday nights from 7 to 9 p.m., which cost $35.
“You get to eat your homework,” Laura said.
For more information, go online to cwcatering.homestead.com or call (609) 896-5995.