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Infini-T Cafe and Spice Souk: Princeton tea room offers refuge for students

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Below the busy Princeton streets sits Infini-T Café and Spice Souk, a unique establishment which offers more than a delicious menu of teas and eastern cuisine.

Although only a year old, it is obvious that from Infini-T’s inception much thought went into every aspect of the business, from the menu, to the staff, to the interaction with the local community. The tea room is a welcome antidote to the generic chains like Starbucks.

After descending a small flight of steps, one enters into a modest cafe abuzz with low conversational murmur, a comfortable and stylish environment to do work for school, enjoy a pot of tea with friends, or see local musicians on open mic nights.

According to co-owner Mary Fritschie, Infini-T, located at 4 Hulfish Street in Princeton, is successful because it has become a hot spot for local college students.

“If it weren’t for academia, it wouldn’t survive….A huge amount of students from Rutgers come here, students from TCNJ, Princeton, and Mercer. ….to study and relax,” she told The VOICE in a recent interview.

Fritschie says it is the casual, comfortable atmosphere that draws students in: “[Infini-T is] designed to be a home away from home for college kids who may feel like they have no sense of belonging in their dorm or apartment.”

Infini-T offers a broad menu ranging from typical cafe food, such as white cheddar cheese sandwiches and baked goods like brownies, to Middle Eastern inspired dishes like their savory baba ghanoush . The menu also features vegan and gluten free foods.

According to one employee, the most popular dish is the Pani pori. It is intended to be shared and its kaleidoscopic ingredients create an inviting warmth that is conducive to a group experience. Stuffed inside a crispy rice pastry that is broken at the top, are smooth mashed potatoes, zesty chickpeas, onions, and peppers. All this is topped with a sweet and a sour sauce.

The food is good, but where Infini-T really shines is the panoply of beverages. Most of their drinks are available by individual cups or by the pot for groups. This includes over twelve categories of enticing non-alcoholic drinks, including dozens of different teas.

Their most popular green tea, “Ling Chung,” a brew from China which means “Dragon Well.” Served steaming hot in a stylish, yet functional double walled glass with long cut tea leaves still in the infuser, the full bodied yellow tinted liquid smells exactly as it tastes, very mellow with a strong flavor and a satisfying, slightly bitter aftertaste.

Infinit-T’s chocolate chai latte is like a liquefied dessert. As its name suggests, it features the signature chai-spiced flavor, accentuated by rich, smooth chocolate overtones. It comes with a thin layer of white whipped cream.

With more than thirty teas from around the world, a pot that yields about four cups of tea ranges from five to eighteen dollars, the average being around nine dollars. The food prices range from around three dollars for two Chinese tea eggs, all the way up to around seven dollars for more substantial dishes such as the portobello panini. Going with a couple of friends and splitting the bill provides a budget friendly option for broke college students.

Dale Dewey, 20, a fourth semester Fine Arts major at Mercer, said he thought Infinit-T was “affordable” and “a good place to come and feel fancy for a bit.” Describing the service as “fantastic,” his food item of choice is Chinese tea eggs, which are hard-boiled eggs soaked in tea.

Apart from the cafe, the Spice Souk offers numerous shelves dedicated to authentic world spices for sale by the pound. The color of spices are as vibrant as the decor, a mix of middle and far eastern influence found in all corners of the cafe as well as the uncommon, affordable, and tasty fare they serve.

Both of Infini-T’s owners have traveled the world, and have integrated free trade objects collected on their adventures into the decor of their restaurant. From the multicolored textured curtains, to the plump floor cushions, attention to aesthetics is a key component of Infiniti-T’s allure.

The cafe hosts open mic nights, open to anyone, with talented acts ranging from poetry reading to acoustic performances. After a recent performance, Lance Greene, 25, a local solo acoustic artist with a thoughtful folk sound said, “Its a great venue, more intimate than most other places.”

The experience is so good that according to Fritschie, “almost every [staff member] start[ed] as an actual customer.” Not only are the employees personable, but also, knowledgeable about the unusual elements of the menu.

Infini-T’s good food and atmosphere offers a perfect hang out for students.

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