WHATS FOR LUNCH: SOUP’S ON

090114 cjmcloones1The oversized Reuben lunch platter with  fries, above, and French onion soup, below, from CJ McLoone’s.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

090114 cjmcloones2The calendar flips to September, and just like that, thoughts of bathing suits and salads are gone, replaced by hankerings for sweaters, coats and heartier lunches.

A soup-and-sandwich pairing is a favorite for many who want a little more than just a quick bite, and to this soup lover, it doesn’t matter that it’s still hot outside: September is the start of soup season.

CJ McLoone’s on Shrewsbury Avenue in Tinton Falls offers a soup of the day, oversized burgers, and many typical sandwich options.

090114 cjmcloones4CJ McLoone’s offers high-top seating, comfortable booths and regular table seating. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Perhaps it’s the comfortable, clubby atmosphere that encourages a more leisurely lunch, or maybe it’s the good-natured servers, but there is something about the vibe here that invites you to linger.

The French onion soup ($5.95), served properly in a crock hot from the oven, was pretty close to authentic. A lightly seasoned beef broth filled with chunks of caramelized, sweet onions was delicately graced with croutons instead of a big piece of bread. So many restaurant kitchens fill the crock with bread that acts as a sponge, soaking up all of the broth. This is not the way French onion soup was meant to be, so the lighthandedness of ingredients made this a much better bowl of soup. The Swiss cheese cap was properly gooey, tangy, and crispy.

The axiom “less is more” came to mind when the Reuben sandwich ($10.95) was served. In this case, the well-toasted rye bread came filled with enough moist corned beef and Swiss cheese to necessitate a big bite, but not so big that you couldn’t wrap your mouth around it without cracking your jaw.

The sandwich also contained just the right amount of sauerkraut, which goes to show that a capable restaurateur knows how to prepare and present a recipe correctly.

The small mountain of crisp, seasoned French fries got polished off in no time.

If the Robinson Ale House, the next venture in the long line of McLoone restaurants, coming soon to Broad Street in Red Bank, is this dependable, it should be a busy place right from the start.

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