Agricola executive chef Crawford Koeniger has created items specifically for the Princeton restaurant’s new happy hour from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

By Pat Tanner

This take-out shop specializing in grilled cheese has earned high marks since it replaced Zorba’s 18 months ago, both for its over-the-top, Princeton-themed menu sandwiches and the endless “build-your-own” possibilities.

For those, customers select from extensive bread choices (from Terra Momo), up to two cheeses (all but American are sliced in-house), toppings ranging from apples to zucchini, proteins (including pork roll and house-made brisket), and accents, among them Tiger Sauce, a creamy, fiery chipotle that’s also dynamite with Tiger Fries, which are liberally sprinkled with ghost pepper salt ($3.50).

Try The Princeton ($7.50): between generous slices of sourdough are grilled chicken breast, bacon, Monterey Jack, roasted red peppers, and the genius kicker: sweet-tea caramelized onions. That’s right, onions caramelized in sweet tea.

The Beefy Mac ($7.25) is Princeton’s version of poutine: mac and cheese, brisket and gravy, and those same caramelized onions on Texas toast. Gluten-free and vegan bread and cheese options are available.

Say Cheez is at 183-D Nassau St. in Princeton. Open Monday–Wednesday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday–Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Web: saycheezprinceton.com.

Prized heirloom beans exclusively at Whole Earth Center

I’m attracted to any foodstuff dubbed “heirloom,” but when I encountered Rancho Gordo’s dried heirloom beans, I was skeptical. Could they really distinguish themselves from their commercial kin?

My first batch of Christmas Limas purchased from the website of this Napa Valley-based company convinced me that regular dried beans are to heirlooms as hothouse tomatoes are to farmers-market heirlooms. Their flavor (they actually have some) and texture (they don’t turn to mush) have ruined me forever not only for regulation dried beans but also for canned beans.

These days, I purchase Rancho Gordon beans right in Princeton. The Whole Earth Center is, in fact, the only store in the state that carries them. The selection rotates, but the store usually stocks about eight kinds, posting helpful descriptions on the shelf.

I recently purchased Yellow Eye (“ham hock’s best friend”), Red Nightfall (“small, dense, nutty, creamy”), and Scarlet Runner (“large, meaty, great with…wild mushrooms”). Cassoulet beans (i.e., French tarbais grown in California) are usually among the selection. Almost all sell for $6.29 a pound — a more-than-fair price considering that at the Rancho Gordo site they’re $5.95 plus shipping. Yes, that’s considerably more than regular supermarket beans, but it amounts to a frugal $1.57 per main-course serving for high quality, delicious protein.

Agricola adds Happy Hour(s)

The sandwich board outside reads Happy Hour, singular, but the newly instituted drink specials and bar snacks at Agricola on Witherspoon Street run daily from 2:30 to 5:30. During that time, 5 classic cocktails are $8 (Moscow Mule, French 75, Paloma, Brown Derby, Daiquiri), three wines are $7 a glass, and all draught and bottled beers, $5.

Much of the food menu comprises the restaurant’s first-rate burger ($15) and opening courses from Agricola’s regular lunch and dinner menu (and at regulation prices). But executive chef Crawford Koeniger has created some items specifically for happy hour (sic). Among them: hand-cut fries with housemade beet ketchup ($5), short rib sliders with red wine demi ($9), and fried buttermilk chicken bites with milk gravy and BBQ and hot sauces ($8).

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