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South City Grill: Upscale lunch in north Jersey

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Restaurants & Bars

South City Grill: Upscale lunch in north Jersey

MU | Mar 30, 2000 03:26 PM

Earlier this week my coworkers and I went to lunch at South City Grill, which is on Rte 17 S just before I-80, not a neighborhood known for gracious dining. The room is pleasant, decorated in nondescript "modern" fashion with indirect lighting and reasonably spaced tables. Clientele appeared to be mainly VC types closing deals, and us.

Lunch menu is contemporary, seafood oriented, lunch-type stuff -- sandwiches and salads and such, but also includes an oyster list, which resembles a wine list (there's one of those too, but it was lunchtime), detailing 16 varieties of oysters and brief descriptions of each. Also offers three grades of caviar. Most lunch entrees are between $8 - $15.

Food: Didn't try any oysters. Bread basket served warm, which I always view with profound appreciation. I split a lobster spring roll with a tablemate. It turned out to be a double-length, thin-skinned eggroll filled with shredded vegetables and a few bits of lobster, cut in half on a slant, and accompanied by a light soy-vinegar dipping sauce. It had a nice lobster aroma, and was definitely better than your average eggroll, but probably not worth $9.50. My capellini with seafood was very-good-not-great, a huge pile of slightly overdone pasta (done correctly, American-style) in exactly the right amount of light tomato sauce with hunks of tomato, slices of garlic, whole mussels and clams, bay scallops and (!) a couple of perfectly cooked shrimp. Pretty satisfying. Eleven bucks. Companion's seafood Cobb salad looked underwhelming, but it was a pile of real crabmeat served with those avocados and that shredded lettuce. Another companion was very happy with broiled sea scallops, lots of them, while a grilled salmon salad looked great -- big hunk of fish with grilled veggies, including asparagus and radicchio. In a nice touch, iced tea came unsweetened in little glass pitchers with a tall glass of ice on the side.

All in all, a decent place with good food, large portions, and pleasant and unobtrusive service. I hear they have jazz acts there in the evenings, for any who find themselves in North Jersey at night. I would definitely choose this place over the neighboring Outback Steak House.

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