Lambertville Station Reviews
Courtesy of Nouveau Magazine, written by Lynn Welden
There was definitely a bit of a nip in the air. My husband and I pulled our jackets tight around us as a blast of chilly wind caught us by surprise. It was this, and the anticipation we felt at dining again at the Lambertville Station in Lambertville, NJ, that provoked us to step lively as we made our way to the entrance of this popular landmark restaurant. Like many of its visitors over the almost quarter of a century since it opened, we were coming to spend some time, sit back, relax and dine on the classic American cuisine featured on the Station's seasonal dinner menu. Quite a delicious concept!
Walking into the handsome lobby on that recent Friday night in early October, I responded as I always do when coming face to face with the Lambertville Station's Victorian-era ambiance. Against a backdrop accented by polished brass, antiques, framed art, etched glass and an overall décor saluting an America of the late 19th century, the concept of a unique dining experience takes on new meaning.
Ah, yes, I thought, it's here that I've shared numerous memorable times with friends and relatives in the past; the very spot where we've savored luscious Sunday brunches, lunches that satisfied on every count, and more than a few laughter-filled hours seated at a table in the welcoming downstairs pub-cementing relationships and attempting to solve the problems of the world over drinks and tasty casual fare. This is, I'm positive, a restaurant that calls up similar memories for the several generations of guests who have gathered here, both visitors to the area and locals alike. The Station has become an indisputable part of the dynamic of this riverside town-a persuasive reason for its durability and success.
For those unfamiliar with the tale of the Lambertville Station's rebirth, it's worth noting. Back in the early 1980s, the town's railroad depot (created in 1865 by the same architect who designed the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., but lying vacant and abandoned since the 1960s), captured the interest and imagination of several savvy area entrepreneurs, including the present co-owners, Dan Whitaker and Rose DiMarco. Thanks to some major outside-of-the-box thinking (and a fourteen-month renovation), the stationhouse was transformed and re-launched as one of the first attractions in the town's emerging renaissance.
Today, the multilevel restaurant boasts several distinctive public dining settings-including the elegant Victorian Room with its two-storied vaulted ceilings, the laidback Station Pub (offering live music on the weekends), a new alfresco bar/dining area (open in season), and the Platform Room, where an expanse of windows provides wide-open views of Bridge Street the canal and excellent people-watching opportunities. Also worth noting is the fact that this restaurant, with its considerable and diverse array of fare, is open every day of the year.
A young woman named Amy Lettiere stepped into this demanding high-volume, something-for-everyone environment as an apprentice in the Station kitchen back in the mid-1990s. By 2000, she had been named the restaurant's Executive Chef, a post she continues in today. During the past six years, Lettiere has stressed a commitment to consistency and to the use of fresh ingredients, when possible, in the creation of her cuisine (the Station grows twenty-five varieties of herbs in its own garden), and she has pledged to retain longtime house specialty items (such as the signature coconut bread, honey-mustard dressing, Dijon-rosemary-encrusted rack of lamb, and Chesapeake Bay crab cakes) while also offering items reflective of her interest in Asian, Italian and French cuisines. Meanwhile, the Station's enduring wild-game menu (available during winter months) is so admired that it's achieved near iconic status with its fans.
And what were the items that particularly got the attention of our appetites? My husband seemed especially pleased with the soup of the day, Chunky Tomato and Rice, a rich and robust salute to the kind of mmmmmm-good combos Mom used to make. I found my appetizer--chunks of tender lobster and crabmeat served with a subtle tarragon-Dijon dressing--to be the perfect prelude to my main course. As for the Station's indisputable long-term best seller, the aforementioned roasted rack of lamb, it is definitely deserving of its lofty title. And if pan seared ahi tuna is to your liking, you will be very happy with the Station's presentation. My tuna was cooked exactly as I requested and plated with a colorful cold salad of julienne vegetables tossed with a tangy Asian style dressing. Beautiful to behold and graciously served, as was our entire meal.
I also couldn't help noticing the diners around me, some who had arrived earlier and were taking enormous satisfaction in what they'd selected from the special Sunset on the Delaware menu (a three course bill of fare offered at $14.99, Monday through Friday from 4-6:30pm). Meanwhile, at another table, a couple relishing their entrées chosen from the regular dinner menu were equally impressed by a fine-looking ten-ounce filet mignon and a generous cut of prime rib. "This whole meal was great," the gentleman at that table told his server before leaving. Yes, that pretty well sums up the happy responses of everyone at our end of the Platform Room that night.
There you have it. After almost twenty five years in business, this landmark destination retains a presence and vitality all its own and, perhaps more important, keeps on delighting its guests. Congratulations are due! Here's to many more years of being The Station.
The Lambertville Station, located at 11 Bridge St., Lambertville, NJ, is open daily.