Owners of The Meeting House in Princeton, Amar Gautam and Amanda Maher, were looking for a change of pace. The New York City couple wanted a home with a backyard, where they could raise their three young children. Upon exploring the upscale suburban town of Princeton, with comfortable access to New York City and Philadelphia, they were sold.
The Meeting House Vision
The two had entertained the idea of entering the hospitality business, since Gautam had owned a bar in Midtown prior to the family’s move. When a longtime Princeton restaurant owner was looking to sell, Gautam and Maher took the plunge.
Their vision was simple: Fine dining in a casual atmosphere that appealed to couples, friends, and families alike. “We wanted great service and pretty plated food,” Maher said.
The couple worked with a restaurant consultant from the city to help establish the eatery. The menu changes seasonally, and Maher and Gautam praise their head chef, Chef Vito, for the menu selection. “He’s done a phenomenal job of taking our existing menu and updating it,” Gautam said.
The Meeting House’s fried chicken and biscuits have kept customers returning. Served with apple coleslaw and chili honey, the dish perfectly executes the couple’s vision of upscale yet modest fare.
Brunch is offered on weekends, and the pancakes are the most sought-after choice. “The pancakes are really, really good,” Gautam says, adding that the bacon is cured and sliced in-house. Since the chicken is a “huge hit,” the restaurant now offers a pairing of pancakes and fried chicken during brunch—a tasteful twist on classic chicken and waffles.
The Drink Menu
The restaurant’s drink menu changes throughout the year as well, and Maher considers The South Side to be her seasonal drink of choice. The cocktail features black tea-infused bourbon, ginger liquor, peach syrup, lemon, and bitters. Gautam’s favorite is the El Jefe, a sweet and spicy blend of Mezcal, agave-jalapeño, grapefruit, lime, and bitters. “We have some phenomenal bartenders; some super creative men and women,” Gautam says.
The restaurant, which opened in November 2019, had to quickly find a new normal when the global pandemic severely impacted the dining industry. Despite the uncertainty, the Meeting House wanted to give back to those who had served them so well.
“When we shut down, we immediately decided we would continue to make meals for our staff members,” Maher says. The couple began participating in Share My Meals, a local nonprofit focused on eliminating food waste and feeding the community. The restaurant now provides up to 300 meals per week for neighbors in need. “When things were really bleak, it was a really nice thing to participate in.”
The Meeting House takes reservations and walk-ins for its indoor and outdoor seating. Reservations are recommended on weekends, especially for brunch. The restaurant occasionally holds wine-pairing events and hopes to launch similar experiences for beer pairings down the road. “We want to create a culture where everyone is happily having dinner together,” Maher says. “We’re trying to find the sweet spot for everyone, and I think it’s working.”
The Meeting House
277 Witherspoon Street
Tuesday though Thursday: 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday dinner: 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday brunch: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.