There's salmon. Then there's a sandwich. You don't usually find the two together unless its a lox bagel.
But at Rockn' Joe Coffeehouse and Bistro in Cranford, there is an exception. One can order a gourmet sandwich comprised of layers of smoked salmon, raw red onions and a smearing of goat cheese.
I admit I had my doubts when I first saw it on the menu. The combination seemed like a strong one that could possibly make my stomach punch me in the face. But being a regular at Rockn Joe's means consistently getting tired of one thing and going onto another (I come almost everyday. People make jokes about the fact that I need to start paying rent).
The point is, I'd already ordered the roast beef sandwich, the veggie sandwich and the portobella mushroom sandwiches enough. Too much. It was time for something different.
At first bite, I wasn't sure. It was very salty, no doubt due to the salmon. And the red onions gave the dish a spicy bite. Yet the goat cheese, while contributing to the saltiness factor, also gave it a hint of sweetness.
I was sure it was radically different from anything else I'd ever ordered at Rockn Joe, which specializes in lunch concoctions often consisting of neutrally pleasing toasted whole wheat bread, cheese and veggies.
But the unique taste works. And it works really well if you're the type that prefers spicy food – the type that chooses the Thai or Indian dish over the standard Chinese place. Or the type that actually does eat the salty pickle served with every lunch dish ever at a Jersey diner.
I admit that I am this type of person.
So granted after I tried this sandwich, I had it for lunch almost every day for about two months.
Rockn Joe Coffeehouse and Bistro is a small cafe, located right near the Cranford train station, that serves coffee and lunch items. Along with the aforementioned sandwiches, this place also serves salad platters that very in uniqueness – from your standard "mixed greens" and chicken breast salad to a fancy item with two crab cakes perched on top of a pile of greens and veggies, and a grilled portobello salad.
Although this cafe is now a franchise chain – you can now find Rockn Joe in Westfield, Caldwell, Milburn and Kendall Park – the Cranford store is the original, with founder Kevin Brennan opening the shop in 1993.
Along with the expected "coffeehouse" atmosphere, you will find gold plated records on the wall, an evil-looking David Bowie poster staring your down with milky white eyes, a grimacing portrait of Kiss members, electric guitars and Beatles posters and records hovering over your table – perhaps reminding you of just what you miss (or gladly left, whatever the case may be) about the 60's and 70's.
Rockn Joe is a rock music themed place. In fact, the stores in Westfield and Kendall Park invite musicians to play to its patrons, acting as a local venue. Unfortunately Cranford's store is too small for amps and mic stands. But it still retains the rock n' roll decor.
It's this muscial atmosphere – along with a selection of unique items such as the smoked salmon sandwich – that sets Rockn Joe apart from the usual coffee-bar-plus-lunch-and-biscotti type of place.
Item name: Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese
Location: Rockn Joe Coffeehouse and Bistro, 5 Eastman Street, Cranford N.J.
Each week, Cranford Patch will be trying out new food and drink in town, – everything from burritoes to tea. If you want your restaurant on our radar send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.