REVIEW: Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton is triumphant

Written by: Stephen Harrison

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Triumph Brewing Company is a microbrewery and restaurant that operates three separate locations in Princeton, New Hope and Philadelphia. The flagship location is in downtown Princeton on Nassau Street and has been in operation for 19 years.

The Princeton location has a slender exterior building profile that opens into an equally slender walkway which belies the cavernous restaurant interior lying ahead. The dining room is a vast open area with three different levels of dining tables separated by stairways, a more secluded alcove that is partially walled off from the main dining area and includes a two level bar.

The décor includes both brick and beige colored plaster walls with wooden floors, bar and booths. Just behind and above the bar are some massive glass windows that allow you to see the fermentation tanks that holds the beer that they brew on site.

The menu features a variety of appetizers, entrees, salads, soups and sandwiches. Assistant manager Heath Swain explains the menu’s options saying “We try to keep it where we have regular beer and bar food and a nice touch of something on the more elegant side as well. We do try to use all local fresh products from local farmers.”

Swain said about the menu, “We also try to match it up with our beer,” indicating that some entrees are chosen specifically to pair well with particular varieties of beer that they may have on tap at the time.

One of the unique features that Triumph employs that many restaurants do not have is that they brew their own beer. Each Triumph location has two varieties, the honey blonde and amber ale, on tap at all times as well as a rotating cast of five additional varieties. “Each location has its own brewer and so they each make their own in their own style, and they do make different beers but we have our staples, our honey blonde and our amber ale that they all carry. But they’re slightly different even store to store so it creates a unique flavor” says Swain.

he service was efficient in seating us quickly on Sunday afternoon, however diners should be cautioned that on Saturday night the wait for a table was an hour and a half long. The seating in the alcove section of the restaurant featured dimmed lights which gave the ambiance a sense of intimacy, though during daytime hours the ceiling windows provided ample natural lighting throughout the restaurant for a brighter, more open feeling.

I chose the Macaroni and Cheese for my appetizer (10$) and it was delivered promptly and served in a soup bowl. Draped across the surface is a poached egg which is easily penetrated spilling forth the yolk within. As I probe my food the mustard bread crusted top gives way to a liquidy piping hot underbelly of melted mornay cheese mix, chicken, prosciutto and penne noodles. I found that mixing and matching the ingredients provided different flavor profiles, with the prosciutto, noodles and cheese especially tasty.

Between my appetizer and entry I indulged in a pint of Triumph’s Honey Blonde beer (6$). Honey blonde is a light tan and has a yeasty scent. Triumph brews locally sourced honey into this brew which gives it sweet notes in addition to its wheat flavor. I find it to be easy to drink and quite palatable.

For my main course I select the Fish and Chips ($16), which features two large pieces of crispy cod overtop of french fries and served in a conical basket that is lined with newspaper. Accompanying the basket are ramekins of tartar sauce and coleslaw. As soon as the meal arrives the distinct and powerful aroma of fried fish is filling my nostrils and whetting my appetite.

The cod has an extremely thin but very crisp layer of breading covering its somewhat firm and thick flakes within. The breading serves the purpose of soaking up some of the provided malt vinegar admirably, and the resulting contrast of bitter and acidic flavor profiles makes a powerful impression on your taste buds. If you or anyone you’re dining with has an aversion to the smell of vinegar it is advisable to avoid this dish as the resulting smell from use of the malt vinegar can generously be described as pungent. Enthusiasts carry on as you were.

After looking over the dessert menu I felt the obvious choice was the cookie pie ($8.50). As soon as it arrived one of my dinner companions commented that it smelled like fresh baked cookies. Literally shaped like a thick slice of pie, the cookie has waves of chocolate sauce drizzled over top and garnished generously with powdered sugar. Served alongside is a dish of vanilla ice cream.

Firm on the exterior with a very soft, almost-doughy interior, the pie has a crisscrossing of flavors that when combined remind me of peanut butter cookies. The vanilla ice cream is very sweet and cold, which mixes with the cookie pie to form an orchestra of textures, flavors and temperatures. The warm of the cookie contrasted against the cold of the ice cream, the firm exterior crust with the soft interior pie and melting ice cream, the smooth peanut butter with the sweet vanilla ice cream. The cookie pie was the star of the show for me and despite being stuffed from the appetizer and entree, I somehow made room to finish my entire dessert.

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