Princeton Edition: Lighthouse Cafe

By Candace Nelson - 8:00 AM

Located right on Mercer Street, the Lighthouse Cafe has been open for about a year now. I had a taste of their goodies at a local street fair they had, but I never had the opportunity to check the place out until recently. It has some odd hours, so it was difficult to catch them open at the right time. All the stars aligned recently, and we ventured in.

When Chris and I walked in, the restaurant was completely empty. We stood at the front and the sole worker asked if she could help us. Chris told her we'd like to dine in. She said "oh, okay" and told us to choose where we'd like to sit. The tables were kind of a hodge-podge with mismatching chairs, but all had red tablecloths with a small fake plant, silverware, and laminated menus. The woman told us to go up to the counter to order when we knew what we wanted.

The menu has some basic appetizers, some sandwiches, salads and hotdogs. I was excited to see the soup, but the woman working said they didn't have soup that day. That was unfortunate. Since we were the only ones there, the lady working just came out and asked us what we wanted: I opted for a medium chef salad and a slaw mountaineer dog. Chris ordered a turkey sandwich.

As we waited for our meal, I took in my surroundings. It was, in a word, cluttered. There wasn't an inch of space not filled with something. Among the 20 lighthouses placed in the small room, the entire right side of the room was cluttered with random boxes and tables and knick-knacks. It made it seem, well, dirty. The counter where we should have ordered had a ton of kitchenware - like plates and pans and whatnot - on top of it. On the other side of the counter was the kitchen. I just hope it was all clean, but the impression certainly wasn't the best. The constant Christian music playing wasn't that pleasant either - I felt like I was in a church sermon rather than a nice meal.

Considering our waitress was also our cook, our food came out quickly. A hefty sized salad featured some romaine lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, large croutons, tomatoes, cucumber and ham. The ham was not chunks of fresh ham, but instead thin slices of processed meat were clumped together. It was if somebody opened a pack of ham, chopped it into a few slices and didn't bother to separate it. But, overall, the salad wasn't bad. When I asked for another cup of French dressing, it wasn't a problem. It was filled with a ton of veggies, which I like, I just really hated how the ham was slopped on.

My hotdog wasn't bad. The bread was nice and toasted, the chili was mild and tasty, and the slaw was chunky and thick. The hotdog itself was plain tasting and probably microwaved, but the overall taste was decent. Served with a side of potato chips, the hotdog was even better with the addition of a salty crisp.

Chris said his turkey sandwich was average, which is par for the course at this place. The sign for this place touts its catering and desserts, so I was expecting some delicious endings. I looked around - there were a few trays with some small dessert-cupcake-things for about $8. That was too pricey. The only other thing available were some white chocolate praline cupcakes. I picked two up for us to go and proceeded to pay. She was kind enough to give the cupcakes to us on the house for Christmas. Our meal was about $20 total.

I tried a bite of the cupcake, but that was about it. The cake itself was smaller than the icing, which was piled on about two inches high. And it lacked flavor - I only tasted sugar. Chris completely removed his icing and ate the cake. I took another bite of mine and was done with it, too. It just wasn't great, and being a few days old didn't help it.

Grade: C
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