Restaurant Review #175: The Wine Cellar (Lambertville, NJ)

My friend and co-worker Nick and I had been wanting to take a trip somewhere for a while. A place far enough that it feels like we’re getting away from the normal grind and routine, but close enough to do it in a day. I suggested the New Hope/Lambertville area, and he agreed since he had not been there in years. As I have been to both towns many times, I wanted to try some place new. We wanted to grab dinner in New Hope, but while walking around, stopped at Lambertville Station. This was a beautiful old train station that had been turned into a bar, restaurant, and inn. I had passed it more times than I can count. We figured why not give it a shot for a couple of drinks and a snack before walking around some more. I’m really glad we did.

It was just after 5 PM. We walked downstairs to the pub/bar area, which was already packed. There was not a stool left. Lambertville must come alive early. The crowd was loud, but in a fun way. Most appeared to lean towards cocktails rather than wine or beer. But since it was crowded, we headed deeper into the basement of the restaurant towards the Wine Cellar. This was an actual cellar, with beautiful stone walls, a fireplace (which was lit), tables with chairs, and couches with coffee tables. I asked our server, who was so very kind, if we could order any type of drinks or had to be confined to just wine. She informed us that drinks could be anything, but the food menu was limited to tapas and their oyster bar. That was fine with us.

I grabbed a Maker’s Mark Manhattan while Nick went with a glass of Riesling. I had to bust my friend’s chops, for being so strapping and tough-looking, yet ordering wine. My drink was outstanding, served up and perfectly chilled. The martini glass was brought down filled only a quarter of the way, but accompanied by a small carafe containing the rest of the cocktail. This was because the main bar is upstairs and she did not want to spill anything. She then filled my glass to the top upon setting it down on the table. The carafe contained a bit more, which I added later on. So it was really a drink-plus. Nick’s wine, meanwhile, came from a separate bar near our table, devoted to just the wine. He did not know what Riesling he wanted (the wine list was extensive), so our server guided him through and they settled on one. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the label.

Our “snack” was the seafood trio for two. This was elegantly presented in three glassess: one with lump crab, another with four jumbo shrimp, and the last with lobster claw meat. It was indeed claw meat—they managed to extract the chunks whole. Each part of the trio had its own accompanying sauce: melted butter for the lobster, cocktail sauce for the shrimp, and a delightful tartar for the crab. Everything was fresh and cold. If I appreciated oysters enough, I feel like this would be the place to sample them, as there was a separate oyster menu with six or seven different options, which could be ordered individually.

Drink prices, I felt, were more than fair. Especially the wine. The Wine Cellar managed to give a more affordable glass than some chain restaurants I have been to, and the quality here was obviously superior. As for the seafood combo, it was $32 but worth every penny. Simple delectable.

It is hard to give an actual score based on such a limited experience, so I am going to do the logical thing and award 4 out of 5 stars here. Had we ordered more, it probably would have been higher. The experience was perfect. Our server was friendly and attentive, and patient as we gazed through the enormous listings of wine and tapas. The atmosphere and history of the building and cellar area alone could save the day, not that anything about this visit needed saving. I would definitely come back, and as much as I want to try dinner upstairs, I feel like I would end up right back down in the cellar. I can see myself with a Scotch by the fire in the winter. But can I wait until winter?

The Wine Cellar at the Lambertville Station Restaurant is located at 11 Bridge Street.



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