Two years ago, the eastern end of Maplewood Village came alive with the debut of The Cassidy bar + kitchen, as husband and wife team Tom and Jennifer Carlin brought their vision of a homey but contemporary bar/restaurant model to Maplewood Village’s new Clarus building at the former U.S. Post Office site.
Opening on November 18, 2017, the restaurant immediately garnered accolades, including a designation as one of the top 25 best new restaurants in New Jersey by NJ Monthly magazine in 2018.
In the two years since, Jennifer, Tom and staff have continued to refine their unique brand of seasonal, fresh American comfort food and craft cocktails — while continuing to operate The Gladstone Tavern, which opened in 2006. Everything at The Cassidy is made from scratch. In fact, even the bartenders squeeze their own juices and make their own syrups.
The contemporary design of the space — with an open kitchen and large bar area — has made The Cassidy an attractive gathering spot for evening drinks, working lunches, romantic dinners and Sunday Jazz Brunch (12-3 p.m.).
And the food is good. The autumn menu is particularly cozy and inviting. Think Autumn Salad (dried black fig, manchego, toasted pistachio, pomegranate, baby lacinato kale, frisee, coffee balsamic vinaigrette), Shrimp + Grits, and Grilled Prime Pork Chop with candied bacon drizzle, Brussels sprout and crispy yam.
Granted, the restaurant trade is always difficult. After The Cassidy opened, South Orange and Maplewood diners have been experiencing an embarrassment of riches on the dining front; a number of new restaurants have come on the scene and some older restaurants have refreshed their menus and looks. It’s a challenge that Jennifer says she appreciates, feeling that the rising tide will lift all boats as the towns continue to attract loyal diners with high expectations and foster a broader and ever more professional class of restaurant staffers.
The Cassidy has also faced some recent personal challenges.
“Tom survived a life-threatening stroke at the end of June,” Jennifer recently told Village Green. “The emergency put him in the ICU at St. Barnabas for the entire summer.”
“The teams at both Cassidy bar + kitchen and the Gladstone Tavern rallied around us and helped us through this traumatic and frightening time. The teams we have with both restaurants are our second family and they have been and continue to be supportive.”
Jennifer says that, along with dealing with Tom’s illness, the business has had to contend with persistent rumors that The Cassidy is closing.
It is not.
“Tom is a fighter and has made a miraculous recovery,” said Jennifer. “By the end of October, Tom was getting back into The Cassidy. We are all grateful to our neighbors, friends, family for all of their support through this distressing time in our lives.”
Meanwhile, local diners can help support The Cassidy by stopping by for some delicious fare or drinks. Jennifer points out that bottles of wine are half price on Tuesdays and that Jazz Brunch Specials continue every Sunday noon to 3 p.m. Some early reservation as still available for Thanksgiving — or just pop in on Thanksgiving eve for a drink and a bite before the weekend festivities begin!
The Cassidy Bar + Kitchen is located at 180 Maplewood Avenue. Visit their website for further details and reservations.