Following its recent opening, a buzzworthy Princeton restaurant recently appeared in New Jersey Monthly’s annual list of the 30 best new restaurants in New Jersey. Princeton residents and area “foodies” have quickly come to love the airy, rustic-chic design conceived by restaurateur Amanda Maher with interior designer Hillary O’Carroll of Isabella Sparrow, and eagerly await its reopening.
Maher and her husband and co-owner Amar Gautam worked closely with Isabella Sparrow to breathe life into the venue at 277 Witherspoon Street. The team enlisted local integrated design firm JZA+D as architect for the project to help transform the space, making it brighter and more spacious — a unique, vibrant atmosphere in which offerings of seasonal American fare can shine. The result is one of Princeton’s most up-and-coming destinations for locals and visitors alike, offering refined cuisine in a casual, stylish setting that exudes the concept and feeling envisioned of a bright and elegant space that feels like home.
“The strategy for transforming the restaurant space started with closing off the kitchen,” says Mark A. Sullivan, AIA, partner with JZA+D. “The previous restaurant had the kitchen open to the dining room, but Amanda and Amar wanted the Meeting House to be more relaxed and less noisy.” JZA+D devised a plan for introducing a wall to serve as a muted backdrop to the bar feature.
The design concept also called for making the space brighter and airier, leading the team to opt for an open ceiling with light-colored finishes overhead, making the most of the natural daylight and exterior views of the Downtown Princeton neighborhood available through the full-height glass walls facing the street. Patrons eat and chat seated at traditional wood tables, chairs and banquettes in a cozy ambiance charmingly illuminated by pendant fixtures and sconces.
“The result is a space that offers a sophisticated dining experience whether it’s day or night out,” says Sullivan. “Also, the design concept called for relocating the entrance from the side of the venue to the front, which we were able to accomplish architecturally after assisting with necessary permitting. It’s just a more natural spot for the door, presenting a gracious arrival with simplified access to the dining room.”
Adds Joshua Zinder, AIA, founding principal of JZA+D, “We’re proud to have been a part of making the Meeting House concept a reality. And as Princeton residents, we’re delighted to have this great new amenity in town.”