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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Eating out in Cranford: 100 Steps Supper Club + Raw Bar certainly worth the drive

At 100 Steps Supper Club + Raw Bar in Cranford, Cape May Salts, raised in Delaware Bay, are smaller but just as delicious as the Gulf Oysters I enjoyed on a trip to New Orleans in April.
We shared a whole Idaho River Trout with crispy skin, another highlight of our dinner at 100 Steps.

But rush-hour traffic on the Garden State Parkway will have you biting your nails


CRANFORD -- One of the best seafood restaurants in New Jersey isn't anywhere near the shore.

Still, I've never been a fan of driving 20 miles or more to eat out no matter how good a restaurant is.

So, when we had to visit this Union County town to finish applying for TSA Precheck on Thursday, I made a dinner reservation at 100 Steps Supper Club + Raw Bar.

I attended an oyster and wine festival under a tent in 100 Steps' parking lot in September 2015, and this was my first time back.

Rush-hour traffic on the Garden State Parkway was a nightmare; the 26-mile trip to the IdentoGo office took more than an hour, and me and my wife were late for our appointments.

Still, we got to 100 Steps 30 minutes early, allowing us to take advantage of happy hour, when freshly shucked oysters are half price.

A dozen Cape May Salt Oysters were reduced to $21 from $42 during happy hour (4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, until 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays). These New Jersey oysters live up to their description on the menu: sweet, buttery and smooth, though I'd add mildly salty to that.
We also shared an outstanding appetizer special: A plump Soft Shell Crab over bok choy, tzatziki and kohlrabi -- drizzled with an apple-cider reduction.

Great salads, too

I made quick work of a dozen Cape May Salt Oysters as my wife cringed, but both of us really enjoyed a special appetizer, a plump Soft Shell Crab with a crunchy exterior ($16).

Then, each of us took a breather with salad: 

Arugula with baby beets, shaved carrot and spiced sunflower seeds in a coriander vinaigrette, and Kale with roasted walnuts, dried dates and aged gouda in the same dressing instead of the buttermilk ranch listed on the menu ($12 each).

We finished by sharing a whole Idaho River Trout a La Plancha with French green beans, kohlrabi and capers, and asked the kitchen to hold the citrus brown butter sauce ($35).

Our delicious seafood dinner took about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and my only regret is that I didn't bring any wine.

Hot Parker House Rolls with garlic and salt are complimentary, but seconds are $1.50 each.
The restaurant's Arugula Salad.
The dining room and oyster bar.
The check came in this dish.
Andrea and Jim Carbine opened 100 Steps Supper Club + Raw Bar in 2013 -- literally 100 steps from their Cranford bistro, A Toute Heure. New owners took over 100 Steps recently, and now, the couple have sold the bistro after operating it for 10 years. NJ.com said A Toute Heure was at the "forefront of New Jersey's farm-to-table movement."


100 Steps Supper Club + Oyster Bar, 215 Centennial Ave., Cranford; 1-908-276-0153. Dinner only. Closed Mondays.

BYO, free parking in lots or behind restaurant.

For TSA Precheck, 5 years of expedited security screening at airports is $85 (no need to remove shoes, laptop, liquids and so forth). 

You also can pay with 10,000 United Airlines frequent flier miles.

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