The residents of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey are welcoming a new restaurant called Grain & Cane that has been inspired by traditional rice bags and offers a classic but enticing menu.
The new addition to Berkeley Heights is owned by the Connell family — who at one point was the largest non-governmental rice and sugar distributor in the world. Grain & Cane is the place where you might choose a quiet corner for an intimate evening or a cozy lunch date. It’s also the restaurant that you and your family might want to visit for a special celebration. The atmosphere is a unique combination of comfortable and chic, which makes it suitable for more than one type of occasion. There’s a distinct classic feeling.
The floor-to-ceiling, weathered-looking graffiti draws the mind to traditional rice bags — the inspiration behind the restaurants’ decor. This style even includes using recycled rice bags as stool seat covers and of course some well-known brands and logos. Exposed brick walls and steel columns also draw on the family’s grain storage facilities. Tufted leather seating and custom banquettes are reminiscent of grandfather Grover Connell’s time in Paris, according to the Grain & Cane team. The main focus of the bar is the custom Solari board, which actually serves as the bar. It was once used for posting grain prices on the trading floor. Making this aspect even more special are the rotating specials and inspirational quotes from Connell, such as, “Cheer up, things could be worse. So he cheered up and things did get worse.” There’s also a two-story back bar for guests to enjoy.
The menu has a refreshing variety of choices — without overwhelming guests — and known favorites. Traditional headlines, such as Burgers and Pizza, are splashed across the menu and instantly draw you in. Modern touches and complex flavors mix with classic at Grain & Cane White, sausage, and margarita seem like standard pizzas, but the sourdough crust is a charming twist. A burger may sound simple, but the falafel burger with hummus and avocado tzatziki and the Scottish salmon with chanterelle mushrooms, roasted potatoes, peas, and crispy prosciutto are just a hint of the surprises on the menu. Don’t expect the menu to stay the same for too long though. The restaurant has a menu that changes with the seasons and focuses on fresh ingredients from local farms and is peppered with items inspired by the Connell family’s favorite dishes.
Making Grain & Cane truly stand out among tradition is their traveling food truck. According to the Grain & Cane team, the food truck allows the restaurant to park in different areas around town and reach a whole new set of customers and also introducing dishes to new communities.
Photos courtesy of Grain & Cane, by Oleg March