Food & Drink

Pairings palate + plate in Cranford

Vincent and Carol Murphey-Clyne proprietors of Pairings palate + plate Credits: Millicent K. Brody

During the year 2004, Carol Murphy-Clyne and Vincent Clyne bid farewell to their oh-so-popular relationship with Clyne + Murphy lunch and catering shop located in Westfield. At that exact moment, the talented couple decided to switch gears and pursue alternative careers.

Armed with a Masters Degree in English from Rutgers University, Vince decided to follow his dream and enter a wine certification program in Napa Valley, while Carol, and her degree in Education from Boston College, looked forward to enrolling in the ProChef Certification Program at the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York.

With an idea to teach Culinary Skills, the excellent chef approached the director and asked if she could sit in on one of his Children’s Classes.

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His response was, “Why sit in on a class when you can certainly teach a class?”

Carol’s Mentor-Chef Robert Briggs encouraged her to branch out into the Adult Education Program. From that experience she was invited to write a text book on ‘Modern Buffet Presentations’. To prepare for the project, a professional photographer from the CIA and Wiley Publishers took 125 photos of their special recipes.  Out of this collaboration came the decision to fashion a restaurant after their favorite hobby...Wine and Food, thus the name ‘Pairings’.

The stunning restaurant opened on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, 2011. Today, it has the distinction of being one of New Jersey’s top dining spots.

"Folks come for the freshly prepared food,” says Vince Murphy. “Nothing we serve starts out from a box, bag, can, or plastic container. All of our stock, sauces, pastas, breads, and desserts are prepared in our own kitchen from “Scratch”!

“We wanted to be true to the idea of Pairings,” continued Carol. “We  decided to pair our cuisine to the plate, and the food that appears on that special  plate. We always want the food and the plate to compliment one another.”

“Please note: Our Sous chef Janet Denson and Pastry Chef Josie Grant have been with Pairings since the day we opened,” she adds. Maitre ‘d Brian Warner has been with Pairings since the summer of 2011.

“We’re also proud that each member of our staff has had extensive culinary experience,” continues Vince.

As guests arrive, they are handed a lovely menu legibly printed on stunning brown paper. The Pairings experience begins with an Amuse, which could easily be a stuffed grape clothed in varied cheeses and tossed with toasted cashews or walnuts. Starters offer butternut squash soup with toasted pepitas, ($9), a Caribbean mango Caesar salad  with gorgonzola cheese, romaine lettuce, pineapple, almonds, coconut, and lime-honey vinaigrette, ($12), a zinfandel poached pear salad + chevre, arugula-spinach salad, bacon, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette, $13) .

A tapas menu offers lumpy, cajun crab cakes with remoulade ($9); day boat scallops with red pepper rouille, ($10); and honey lacquered ribs with quince gastrique ($12).

Entrees, or as they are known at Pairings, “Plat Principal” feature: horseradish crusted salmon + charred brussels sprouts, grapes, toasted almonds, pancetta, arugula, and cucumber coulis ($30); crispy duck confit + duck sauce, with fig coins, sweet and sour sticky rice, sauteed  brussels sprouts, carrots, and cauliflower ($29); and pork chop milanese, braised red cabbage with apples, pecorino-romano-panko crust, bacon, vegetables, and potatoes ($28).

"We’re known for our coconut macaroons,” adds Carol Murphy, but everyone loves our house-prepared New York Cheese Cake + ice cream , with a balsamic-roasted, pineapple-walnut, cookie crust, ($12); plus our Chocolate Lovers Cake + ice-cream, chocolate mocha mousse, and chocolate butter cream icing are “to-die-for!”, ($11).

“Our kitchens are modeled after the Teaching Kitchens at the CIA in Hyde Park,” adds Carol. “We’re just delighted with our new Home and encourage everyone to come and join us!”

I’ve got to add, “Folks everywhere are talking about Pairings palate + plate in Cranford. You’ll enjoy the ambiance, service, and of course your meal!”

Don’t forget to let Proprietors Carol and Vince know where you heard about their great new restaurant.

“We’re inviting everyone to experience The ‘Taste of Cranford’ which takes place on March 11th,” adds the couple. “All money raised will benefit the United Way of Greater Union County.”

What: Pairings palate + plate, Walnut + South Ave., Cranford
Call: 908.276.4026
Hours: 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
FYI: BYOB. Casually smart dress. Major credit card accepted. Parking lot and street parking. Off premise catering. Prix-Fixe Menu every Wednesday night. Enjoy Tapas on Thursday.
$$$$: Dinner for Two: $84 (includes appetizers, entrees, dessert and coffee; excludes tax and tip)

February 20th, 2012

Please keep in touch. Let us know the exciting new dining spots, bakeries, or foodie spots that opened in your neighborhood.

Enjoy the week! Best! Millicent

Millicent K. Brody is an award-winning writer and photographer and a resident of Westfield, New Jersey.  Contact her at

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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