I can’t remember the last time I was at The Belmont Tavern, but it had to be years ago.

On a recent Friday evening, we arrived about 7 p.m., to enjoy dinner. Feeling rather smug that we actually found a parking space that was not too far from Bloomfield Avenue, and a short walk to this famous dining destination, we smiled as we opened the door.

Believe me when I say, “Nothing had changed!”

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At first, the door opened less than a crack, but like always, there was hardly room to cross the threshold. The Belmont Tavern was mobbed! Packed from wall to wall, with folks lined three to four deep at the bar, and more folks crowding the aisles, there was little room to move any which way.

Even though I knew we’d have to wait to be seated, I did not remember exactly how long we actually had to wait for a table to open. I’ve since discovered, the earlier you arrive, the less your “wait” time. But I’ve also discovered, waiting for a table is part of the ambiance at The Belmont Tavern, and it’s truly worth it!
The Ala Carte Menu menu crafted by Restaurant Manager Annette, starts by letting you know, “Guests must be patient, for all food is cooked to order!”

From the moment we placed our menu to the side of our plate, we were served an Escarole Salad.

And then it started. First an order of Chef Specials: Cavatelli with Pot Cheese, ($13.95). Then an array of Pasta dishes, from Ziti with Pot Cheese, ($13.95), to Spaghetti Marinara, with Red Clam Sauce, or, White if you prefer, $16.95), or Spaghetti “Beeps,” (a fabulous shrimp dish), ($17.95).  We also requested an order of Stretches famous “Chicken Savoy, ($14.95), which is what the restaurant is noted for, and an order of Chicken Murphy, ($17.50).

Remember, we were only four people. And yes, we did not diet last Friday evening. We ate the Whole Thing!

Regardless of where you choose to dine, The Belmont Tavern is not only a great place to go for dinner, it leaves a lasting, fabulous, impression. Like, you might not want to return the next evening, but I would not be surprised if you honestly gave thought to returning the following week. Along with the atmosphere, The Belmont Tavern offers an exciting experience. And the food is really, “That Good!”

The excellent bartender Jimmy knows his trade. Quick with his pours, he amazingly remembers each of his customers, and what they like to drink...regardless of where they are seated, and even if they are standing. And quite honestly, even if he hasn’t seen these people for several years. he remembers their faces, and eventually their names. Amazing!

Of course, at this point, we should have requested a barrel to roll us out of there, but as grateful adults, we thanked proprietors Annette who is in charge of the dining room, and Jimmy for our exciting return to Stretches’ Belmont Tavern. We promised we’d return.
And now Dessert! Stretches does not serve dessert. They offer Espresso, (Small, $11.00), or Large, $16.00). Returning to Cranford, we visited Vanilla Bean Creamery, an ice cream parlor, owned by proprietor Ralph Kopelman, and ordered delicious cups of freshly prepared coffee and chocolate ice cream.  None better!

Yes, we smiled as we ate our dessert. And Yes, they do make spectacular Ice Cream Cakes for all occasions. Vanilla Bean Creamery is located at: 22, North Ave., Cranford W. Call: 908.272.3000.

The Belmont Tavern & Restaurant
12 Bloomfield Avenue
Call: 974.759.9609
FYI:Hours: Closed Tuesday. 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. No reservations. Street parking. Cash only. Casual dress. Full, friendly bar. Fairly priced.