Sunday, December 18, 2011


Is it possible that 2011 is actually coming to an end?  Is it possible that in just 13 days, we'll be saying "good-bye" to a tumultuous year?  It's been a year where locally we shared so many good moments, warm toasty nights in our cellar pub, The Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a., The Rat), listening to night after night of great music, where we were entertained by wonderful musicians who perform during our weekly Sunday musical afternoon series, including our most recent performer, Carol Thompson, who played the harp and wowed everyone present, and absolutely got us all into the holiday spirit early in December.  What a treat to know that when she has time, she has even made a surprise appearance during our weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, packing in the local residents as well as as our hotel overnight guests.  

And there's so much more in store.  Today there was People's Poetry in The Rat, where local poets and those who like to listen to poetry, came out to support each other and enjoy an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping or weekend catch-up agendas.  Next Friday we'll feature Mike Pfeiffer's monthly theme music nights, where he'll kick off the night after 9 p.m. performing Christmas songs that will help us all unwind and get us in the right frame of mind to welcome in the holidays.  And this will follow (and coincide with) the celebration of Hanukkah, where we'll light the candles and rejoice during these 8 days and Festival of Lights beginning on the even of the 20th.  Our Frenchtown community is always so supportive of our programs and always help us come up with new ideas.  We even started a bi-weekly Friday night dance series, where our wonderful Rathskeller bartender, Donna Jane Sampler, has created terrific dance tracks for all to enjoy.  And don't forget about our bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia too.  That night never disappoints, thanks to Russ Coen and our General Manager, Marlon Aranha's continued dedication to coming up with incredible questions that truly challenge and entertain us.

We hope you'll make the time to enjoy these days with us.  We've even come up with a special Christmas Eve menu for the weekend, where we'll have items such as Seven Fish dinner for two, Lobster Risotto, and more.  Check our menu page for the Additions to the Menu later this week to see the full menu.

2011 has been a year where worldwide events brought us closer to neighbors thousands of miles away; where we learned of the passing of icons such as Steve Jobs, who helped make music more accessible and instantaneously attainable for millions; where we witnessed the attempted assassination of

Photo by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' office via Getty Images
Congresswoman Giffords; where we learned about the last day of Osama Bin Laden's life; where we witnessed in real time the protests in the Middle East and the awakening of the Arab Spring; where we learned that our troops would soon come home (and in fact, early this Sunday morning we saw that the last American convoy left Iraq) and made its way down the highway in what the Army called its last "tactical road march" according to CNN;
Courtesy of CNN

Photo courtesy

where we mourned the death of hundreds that quickly rose to the thousands with so many missing, in Japan after the March tsunami and 8.9-magnitude earthquake; where we saw the suffering through piercing images in the media after the earthquake in Turkey; where our hearts poured out for all of our neighbors in the Southern states that suffered through the devastating tornadoes;

Photo courtesy of
where we celebrated the fairytale marriage of a Prince and a commoner--and couldn't stop watching the ceremony that went off without one hiccup...even the rain held off for the open horse carriage to deliver the newlywed royal couple to Buckingham Palace; and let's not forget, it's the year where thousands of fans of reality TV watched glued to the television the marriage that was to outdo the royal wedding:  Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage that lasted only 72 days.  Will we ever recover?

But as close as we felt to these moments of suffering, of sadness, of joy, of pure comic relief, we also experienced similar moments right here in our own backyard.  Let's not forget that Hunterdon County, NJ and Bucks County, PA suffered through the flooding and loss of power following Hurricane Irene's short visit to the US.  And, in recent memory is the snow and ice storm of October 29th, that in one night forced residents to stay home, make alternate Halloween plans (or cancel them altogether), try to stay warm with the loss of electricity, and forced neighbors out of their homes to take refuge with friends and family.  Many were without power for more than a week.  But from this tragedy, and from that from across the globe, we've seen proof of our capacity to help those around us, we've seen true humanity coming out without asking.

Non-profits from around the world have done what they could to help those most affected.  Those on the ground already in place, have been the most effective, but there are those "random acts of kindness" that I have personally seen that have impressed me more than any other year.  I've seen strangers helping others--I've even seen a New York City parking officer NOT give out a ticket to a taxi driver who had gotten out of his cab to get a street cup of coffee.  He explained what happened & the officer put away the pad and walked on.  Amazing!  Pete and I also saw the creation of a fantastic new park that preserves land forever, right here in our own backyard.  300+ acres were officially preserved this year, abutting 200 acres of preserved open space to the south and 300+ acres of preserved farmland and open space to the north, ensuring green space for generations to come, with some of the best vistas of the Delaware River, nature, and wildlife.  It took years to create, but boy, is it worth it!  Thank you to the people involved with the Hunterdon Land Trust Association for all their hard work.  I've also seen community get together and plan on the best way to create a dog park in Frenchtown, rallying support, raising funds, and motivating neighbors to get involved.

How appropriate to continue to learn of stories like these during this holiday time.  As we approach the holidays, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or other holidays, we wish you much happiness, health, and prosperity, along with much joy during the approaching start of 2012.  As you plan ahead for the month of December, please remember that although the hotel is open for overnight accommodations, the Restaurant & Bar and the Rat are closed on Christmas Day.  Do continue to email us your comments and feedback...they are truly helpful...or just leave a comment on this page.  Stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by:

Find us on Facebook  
Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube

You've made such a tremendous difference in our lives, and from all of us at The National Hotel, Pete and I want to extend to you our most sincere wishes for many days of happiness and wonderful experiences that will create many memories for years to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


As we prepare for tonight's celebration of The National Hotel's 2nd anniversary since it opened its doors in 2009, we couldn't be more pleased than to discover that this day  falls on one of our favorite nights of the week, Thursday Open Mic Night, that always brings us all together in our beloved Rathskeller Pub (a.k.a. the Rat)--and some of our very first patrons entered this historic building through the doors of the Rat!!!  All Open Mic Night performers will be welcomed tonight by Pete, who will buy you a beer.  Check our facebook fanpage for more information later today.

And mark your calendars for the launch of our monthly theme nights, Saturday, November 12th, 9:30 p.m. onward,  featuring Mike Peiffer with an all 60s music performance.  Prizes will be given out, including BEST 60s COSTUME.  Come with 60s music requests for Mike, bring some friends and stay a while.  And if you're done with costumers after this Halloween, just come as you are and have a great night at the Rat.  We'll post updates on our facebook page as we get closer to November 12th, or our Rathskeller page on our website for more information on this or other upcoming events (such as November 19th's music program featuring the Road to Ruin, and December's theme).

There's just so much that is on the horizon at The National Hotel, but we're still getting over October.  It's been a whirlwind!  Between the events planned during the entire month by the Frenchtown Business and Professional Association (FBPA), featuring extended shopping hours, in-store events, raffles, and our very own 2nd annual Halloween costume and music party at the Rat, it's been a month-long celebration of this beautiful time of year.

[photos courtesy of Tina Perrotta]

And yet, I temper that with the knowledge that there are so many of our Frenchtown and area neighbors who are still without electricity, all caused by Saturday's storm.  It was a storm that almost forced us to close down, because the roads were just too dangerous to traverse.  It was our loyal patrons who insisted that we stay open to help everyone forget about the elements outside while they celebrated and danced throughout the night, giving a warm welcome to one of our favorite bands, Rainbow Fresh, and what a night it was!  People stayed until closing time, prizes were given out for best costume, and many patrons offered to shelter those around them who were still without power.

We saw this again just two nights ago at The National Hotel, as Russ Coen and our General Manager, Marlon Aranha, hosted the 25th night of our bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia.  It was a night that allowed everyone to forget the daily grind, challenge themselves, and have an absolute blast.  As one of our participants shared that night, "This has to be the best way to deal with what the storm left for me in my yard and at home. It's a little getaway for the mind."  Call us at 908.996.3200 for more information on the next installment--it's totally open to the public, come by yourself or with friends, join a group, or create your own team.  You're sure to have fun.

Hopefully, these types of programs will allow our patrons to have the opportunity to have a night out--a distraction even, from everything they're facing--that can re-energize their spirits.  It's certainly been a tricky few days with local schools only reopening yesterday.  And many children were not picked up by the school buses, because of fallen trees or roads that are still difficult for a bus to navigate.  But the resilient spirit of our residents continues to shape the character of these children, as friend and neighbor goes out of his/her way to help one another.  Through this trying ordeal, the humanity of our community is truly evident and inspiring.  Thank you to all of you who have checked-in on us and continue to make us feel a part of your lives and of the community.

As you plan ahead for the month of November, please remember that although the hotel is open for overnight accommodations, the Restaurant & Bar and the Rat are closed on Thanksgiving Day.  Do continue to email us your comments and feedback...they are truly helpful...or just leave a comment on this page.  Stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by:

Find us on Facebook

Visit our blog
Follow us on Twitter
View our videos on YouTube

Monday, September 26, 2011


Although we've been feeling as though we got a little short-changed with the last few weeks of summer, now that the calendar has marked the official arrival of fall on Friday, we are absolutely looking forward to all that autumn makes possible in this scenic part of the U.S.  October is less than a week away, and Frenchtown is getting ready for a month-long celebration throughout the town.

The Frenchtown Business and Professional Association (FBPA) has organized a terrific array of events with over 50 businesses in Frenchtown participating to make this an unforgettable month.  The streets will be lined with more than 25 scarecrows created by the Frenchtown Elementary School.  The FBPA's website says it best:
"The event kicks off on Friday, Oct. 1 with”First Fridays In Frenchtown” where shops and galleries have extended hours. There will be special events, demonstrations, refreshments, sales and discounts as well as street musicians and artists. Throughout weekends in October there will be fun activities for everyone, including Kayak Races, Pumpkin Decorating, Pet Photos, Pie Baking Contest, Jack-O-Lantern Glow, Parade, Trick or Treating, Live Music and much, much more."
We'll do our part too, launching a new fall menu that will feature seasonal dishes that take advantage of the best ingredients from the area, and as always, supporting our local and sustainable farmers.  The National Hotel is committed to delivering the very best dining experience for our patrons, marrying a tradition of excellence with a contemporary aesthetic.  Our fall menu is a true extension of what Pete and I envisioned when we decided to "reach for the stars" and embark down the path of renovating and relaunching The National Hotel.  We've listened to the feedback that you've given us, and have developed a menu that we are certain will please many different tastes.  Here's just a little sampling of what's to come:

     Rittenhouse-Style Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Bacon & Onion Potato Risotto
    Pan-Tossed Ravioli, Smoked Chilies, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Cilantro Butte
    Sliced Coca-Cola marinated Brazilian style steak, over a Creamy Bacon & Onion Potato Risotto & Choice of Sauce**
    Roasted Eggplant Spread, Manchego Cheese, Roasted Sweet Peppers, Mixed Greens, 7-Grain Bread 
    Available as a wrap with paratha bread
    Fish Marinated in Indian Spices over Tamarind, Mustard Seed, Basmati Rice in a Sweet Spice Sauce

And there's so much more!  It's super exciting for us to be able to feature different dishes that beautifully merge traditional American fare with Indian and Spanish ingredients that complement each other, all the while  taking advantage of the wonderful local harvests that are abundant in our area.  We hope you'll join us to try our fall menu in the next few weeks.  When you're done enjoying your meal, don't forget to join us for some of our music and arts programming that we feature regularly:

  • Weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, 9 p.m. - closing
  • Weekly Saturday Night Live Music series, 9 p.m. - 11 p.m.
  • Weekly Sunday Musical Afternoon series, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • Bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia Night, 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Bi-weekly Wednesday Scrabble Night, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • 3rd Sunday of the Month Poetry Open Mic (People's Poetry), 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
On October 8th you'll be welcomed into Frenchtown by musicians performing throughout the town, in honor of the season's last Second Saturday night, where the shops remain open later than usual.  It's such a vibrant and unique town, that we hope you'll make the time to visit us.  It would be wonderful to have you plan an overnight trip and spend a little more time in our little corner of the world.  We've had such fantastic feedback from our overnight guests, who have raved about the comfortable beds, the luxurious and inviting linens and pillows, and of course, the exceptional attention to detail that our staff has provided, that they'll "surely be back," and that they "enjoyed every minute of our stay," in their own words.  When you come to The National Hotel, be sure to open our guest book that sits at the concierge desk, which has these comments in our hotel guests' own words and handwriting.  No matter how long our day has been, reading these comments puts a smile on all our faces each and every time.  We invite you to come by and see them for yourself.

While the weather is still good, make sure you stop by for a meal or even a fabulous drink that our bartender will fix for you.  Why not have it on our front porch, where you can sit right at the crossroads of 3 county routes?  The beautiful antique cars, high-end luxury sports cars, and numerous cyclists that traverse these roads are just delightful eye-candy.  

Or head downstairs to our cellar pub, The Rathskeller (a.k.a. The Rat), where everyone feels the warmth of The National Hotel and is swept up in the many conversations that arise, some patrons dishing out some of the best nuggets of advice for those seeking a learned opinion, while the area's best drinks are served and thoroughly enjoyed.  You'll feel swept away into another time, another place, full of warmth, good conversation, and terrific food.

Do join us!  And don't forget to contact our knowledgeable staff with any questions, at 908.996.3200.  Please continue to email us your comments and feedback...they are truly helpful...or just leave a comment on this page.  Stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by:

Find us on Facebook

Visit our blog
Follow us on Twitter
View our videos on YouTube

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering & Honoring 9-11. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

Today marks a solemn day in our history, a day full of memories for many of us.  How many of you have spent the last few hours watching the images and tributes to their loved ones on TV?  It felt like the world stopped as we watched and listened to words of comfort and support coming from the podium, words that brought tears to our eyes as we reflected and took in the impact that 9-11 had on everyone around the nation--and the world.


It was a few months ago that we saw the United We Stand, United We Sew project created by Tom McBrien being brought across the Frenchtown-Uhlerstown bridge "giant 9-11 memorial flag created by Upper Bucks County residents in 2002" according to its creator, Tom McBrien.  It crossed the bridge, part of a special motorcade as it made its way to Newark Airport.  The story of that flag, of the significance of "We Will Not Forget" evident in the conviction of the people accompanying the flag.

In our own little way, Frenchtown remembers too--and celebrates the resilience of the American people.  Many of our patrons work in New York City and have shared numerous stories from 10 years ago--as well as from these past few weeks as the city geared up for today's ceremony in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  Pete and I were there, on that day 10 years ago.  It's a day that will live with us forever. I recall friends saying to me about the JFK assassination, that they remembered where they were and exactly what they were doing on that fateful day.  I can now empathize with that sentiment.  But what will shine through the sadness is the spirit and determination of the people, the ability of our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family, to show the world that THEY will not win, that THEY will not stop us from rebuilding, from continuing with our lives and not live in fear.

This was the feeling during Frenchtown's Riverfest, as festive and joyous as it was, with Frenchtown and area residents pushing past the post-Hurricane Irene days that were still present in everyone's recent memories, as well as the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, which was part of so many conversations throughout the day.  Those who came to Riverfest were buoyed by the entertainers, the great vendors, musicians--and even the dogs-(and animals in general)-in-costume contest!


Visitors to Frenchtown and residents alike, couldn't help but smile at the sight of the tiny animals on display, from the "Tortoise and the Hare" to the larger dogs and birds.  The enthusiasm was contagious!

      This has to be what is at the core of being an American, because even here in Frenchtown, where life is usually idyllic, we have seen the Delaware River crest and flood neighboring roads and homes--but even this did not daunt the spirits of our fellow Frenchtown residents.  They actually went to the river, in awe of its magnificance, its strength, and its power.  Neighbor helped neighbor, businesses stayed open to serve their patrons, and our little town moved past this.  There's a willingness to help, a desire to extend yourself, that is part of the culture of Frenchtown.  Every day that passes, Pete and I learn more and more about the "humanity" that is one of the innate qualities of our little corner of the world.

And our hotel guests have noticed this too.  The feedback they give us in our guest book is a testament to how Frenchtown has touched their lives.  For instance, Jeanne and Steve said, "Thank you for your hospitality and making our first visit to Frenchtown a great experience and will return our favorite stay..."  And, Juliet and Ben wrote, "Thanks for everything--your hotel is beautiful and so much fun."  "Very relaxing stay.  Thanks to all the staff for making it possible to unwind from too many non-stop work weeks...," shared Rick and Sue. 
It's a great feeling to read these statements.  When you're in the service industry, and hear back from your regular customers honest feedback as well as from new guests, genuine complementary comments, it makes it all worthwhile.

Knowing that Frenchtown will continue to offer great programs throughout the fall, is a wonderful piece of news to share with our patrons.  For instance, these Second Saturdays (yesterday), where the shops are open until dusk or later, and where musicians perform live throughout Frenchtown, and even more activities are planned for EVERY WEEKEND IN OCTOBER!  Come on over and enjoy the changing leaves as the colors of autumn come to life.  There will be something for everyone to do and see, from carriage rides to pumpkin luminaries and kayak races.

Perhaps that's why so many of our local area residents from Hunterdon and Bucks Counties continue to make this area so special, sharing their talents, and demonstrating how they are so in touch with their artistic sides.  We see this at The National Hotel every Thursday night during our weekly Open Mic Night, when musicians unite to find inspiration from each other while they share their talent with the room.  And we see it Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons during our weekly musical programs, every single week.  This couldn't be more true though, than when we take time out from the hustle and bustle of our lives, and listen to our local poets who come to The National Hotel to read from their own works or from those of their favorites during our third Sunday of the month People's Poetry.  The words stay with you, conjuring up images that are often haunting, often inspiring, and always moving.  Carve out some time and come on over to Frenchtown, walk through the town and visit the wonderful and unique shops that line the streets, and then head over to The National Hotel for a wonderful meal, accompanied by fantastic libations.  And if you can, why not extend your visit into an overnight stay.  You won't be disappointed!

Please feel free to contact our knowledgeable staff with any questions, at 908.996.3200, and do continue to email us your comments and feedback...they are truly helpful...or just leave a comment on this page.  Stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by:

Find us on Facebook

Visit our blog
Follow us on Twitter

View our videos on YouTube

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


What a wonderful town!  We just celebrated Bastille Day, and our little corner of the world was JUMPING!  Local residents and tourists alike meandered through the town, shopped, strolled, enjoyed the outdoor music and entertainers, as well as shared conversations and enjoyed some wonderful food and drinks offered at some of the Frenchtown establishments.

For us, at The National Hotel, it was a day to have our "peacock feathers" fully on display, proud to have the opportunity to share our love affair with this historic building and the warmth our patrons bring to all the guests who set foot for the first time in this building.  And it was wonderful to have new visitors to Frenchtown experience the fantastic culinary choices our executive chef, Lisa Frederick, has created.  From our wonderful classic dishes, such as Black Angus Strip Steak and The National Burger, to our more exotic and ethnic-inspired dishes, such as the Chicken Seekh Wrap (with Indian paratha bread) and Black Bean & Shrimp Empanadas (with lime-poached shrimp), our patrons continue to come back to The National Hotel because of the quality and the care that the kitchen staff puts into every plate--not to mention the creativity they express by incorporating international ingredients into the dishes on the menu, adding a twist to traditional fare, while introducing new favorites to our area clientele.

Sea food stew with clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, and chunks of sea bass all stewed to perfection with tomato, white wine and fennel with grilled bread
Photo courtesy of Kimmy Schmidt

Chicken and Raita salad. Chicken seekh kabab (with Indian spices) over a mixed salad with a Indian yogurt dressing
Photo courtesy of Kimmy Schmidt

Homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella, asiago cheese, roasted garlic and fresh spring onions
Photo courtesy of Kimmy Schmidt

House made ravioli, filled with bacon, sweet peas and goat cheese, topped with three U-10 scallops, seared in bacon jus
Photo courtesy of Kimmy Schmidt
And those who visit Frenchtown, NJ this summer are treated to additional activities from the Frenchtown Business Association's (FBPA) Second Saturdays--a huge success and so much fun!!  Musicians entertain visitors and residents alike, performing throughout the town, outdoors.

You'll find more videos of Rainbow Fresh and other artists who have performed at The National Hotel on our youtube channel.  This flows so smoothly from The National Hotel's own arts and music programming:
  • Bi-weekly Tuesday Trivia night, 8 - 9:30 p.m.--ON TONIGHT...Thank you Russ Coen & Marlon Aranha!!
  • Bi-weekly Wednesday Scrabble night (brand new!!), 7 - 9 p.m.
  • Weekly Thursday Open Mic Night, 9 p.m. - closing
  • Weekly Saturday Night Live Music night, 9 - 11 p.m.
  • Weekly Sunday Musical Afternoon series, 5 - 7 p.m.
  • Monthly People's Poetry on the 3rd Sunday of the month (poetry open mic), 2 - 4 p.m.
There's something happening almost every night of the week--and every single program was started by one of our patrons.  They plan it, they initiate it, and they organize and execute the plan.  Just take a look at our brand new bi-weekly WEDNESDAY SCRABBLE NIGHT program, 7 - 9 p.m. that kicked off last Wednesday and will be on again on August 3rd--organized, sponsored, and launched by Frenchtown's own Paddle Creek--immediately following our Wednesday Ladies' Night with 1/2 off drinks (5 - 7 p.m. every week).  Only one word comes to mind:  blessed.  Yes, Pete and I are blessed.  The success of The National Hotel is owed to our patrons, and the help of our friends, family, and not least, our talented and wonderful staff.  If you've stopped by to have a drink and have had a chance to chat with Kasey Goyette, our lead bartender, or Donna Jane Sampler, our Rathskeller libation maven, you know exactly what I mean!

August will surely be another great month.  Frenchtown, NJ is just an absolutely delightful place to spend an afternoon, an evening, or for a few days.  You'll find friendly people, welcoming merchants, scenic vistas, and lots of activities to suit you, whether you're looking to relax or to have an active stay enjoying the outdoors.  Please feel free to contact our knowledgeable staff with any questions, at 908.996.3200, and do continue to email us your comments and feedback...they are truly helpful...or just leave a comment on this page.  Stay up-to-date with everything being planned, by:

Find us on Facebook
Visit our blog
Follow us on Twitter
View our videos on YouTube