This article was originally published in the July 2019 Princeton Echo.
With murals recovered from the speakeasy era basement bar now gracing the walls of the dining room, the modern day Peacock Inn has a touch of old world dining that is rarely found these days. As E.E. Whiting reported in the June 20 edition of U.S. 1 newspaper:
Fine dining has resurrected phoenix-like in the newly reopened Peacock Inn on Bayard Lane. The restored, grand old mansion, bar, and restaurant heralds a much needed alternative to the on-trend, casual spots that dominate the dining scene in town.
The dining room is quietly elegant with the same tones subtlety accented with painted peacock feathers that barely shimmer in the subdued lighting — a touch of whimsy that is not overt. The hotel is now part of the Choice Hotels Ascend Collection and a check of the various travel sites indicates that room rates are around $300 per night.
But fine dining is the lure. The famous murals from the glorious jazz age, a much-loved part of the house’s history as a watering hole, have been preserved. The back patio has been expanded to 10 tables with umbrellas, perfect for al fresco dining or imbibing. Private rooms are available for those extra-special occasions.
The bar is configured much the same as before but brightened and mercifully has only one TV that faces to entranceway so that it can be ignored relatively easily and conversation can flow.
The main dining room clearly encourages conversation with its low ceiling, soft lighting, and subdued background music, noticeable but not so loud that you become hoarse trying to talk. Throughout the venue, my friend and I were able to chat amiably with the bartender, our waiter, and between ourselves never once having to raise our voices to be heard. This was an exceptionally pleasant change from the usual din of dining.
My friend and I dined on a Tuesday night at 7 p.m. We stopped at the bar for a quick drink to admire the new ambiance and then were seated in the main dining room. Several other tables were filled at that hour. The staff has clearly been well trained in traditional service. Our servers were amiable without being artificially cheerful and when questioned about items on the menu did not launch into condescending lectures on culinary arcana.
A particularly fine touch came when my friend requested to take part of his meal home. Rather than plunking a paper bag on the table, our waiter gave him a discreet tag, saying his parcel would be at the front desk upon departure.
Princeton now has a replacement for the sorely missed Lahiere’s where fine food meets confident elegance. The Peacock Inn is the perfect place for a special dinner out or to enjoy the company of good friends. It is also perfect for quality business entertaining. The Peacock Inn can be very proud.