Gut Reaction: Cinder Bar is exactly the place you need to end your week

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On a cool night, nothing sounded better than pizza and beer. Upon visiting Cinder Bar, the experience they created with that classic combo far surpassed my expectations.

Cinder Bar serves their specialty pizzas as well as both traditional and new style American food. About 20 minutes from Glassboro, in Clarksboro, New Jersey, resting in a strip of other businesses including a nail salon, hot yoga, a craft brewery and a small gym, the location is very unassuming. The real hustle and bustle arrives during Cinder Bar’s later hours.

I arrived around 6:30 p.m. To my delight, I was seated immediately at a two-person high top at the back of the bar, nearest to the large wood fired pizza oven. The interior was rustic and dimly lit, using mismatched exposed brick on the walls and natural bare wood for the floor, bar and tables. Hung from the ceiling were fixtures of empty whiskey bottles with lights inside them. At the center of the restaurant stood the large “U” shaped bar surrounded by what looked like 50-60 barstools.

After waiting about 10 minutes, the sever arrived and took my drink and appetizer order. I chose the truffle fries ($5), an order of their candied bacon ($5) and a Corona Extra ($5). Strangely, the waitress returned with the appetizers only a couple minutes later, before my drink arrived. I decided to only eat after I received my drink. Another few minutes go by and the waitress returned with a Corona Light. I said nothing about the incorrect drink order.

The truffle fries were shoestring cut, doused in white truffle oil, covered with parmesan cheese crumbles and garnished with bean sprouts. The toppings created a rich and aromatic dish. They might have been a touch heavy-handed with the parmesan crumbles, but that’s just to my taste.

The candied bacon strips were wrapped in a brown paper towel and stood upright in a mason jar. Every restaurant these days seems to have a surplus of these on hand for quirky dished and craft cocktails. The bacon was thick cut and perfectly charred on the edges. The candied caramel like coating on it created the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Why they decided to wrap such a sticky dish in a paper towel I’ll never know, but I only spent a few minutes peeling pieces of paper off my food.

Returning frequently to see if I needed anything or how my food was, the waitress was not overbearing and very friendly. Smiling while she took my order and made sure there was always more beer in front of me. After another round of drinks, she must have had an epiphany and realized that she had been bringing me Corona Lights this whole time. The waitress gave me a free round of the proper Corona Extra.

For the main course, I ordered a four-cheese pizza ($13) with a side of marinara sauce.

A four cheese pizza at Cinder Bar. – Staff Photo/Scott Buzby

In the time while I waited for my pizza, the musical act for the evening began to set up his gear in the corner of the bar nearest me. He was talented, but I had to roll my eyes at his first song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” by Fleetwood Mac, for no other reason than it being the third time I’d heard it today. He plugged his acoustic guitar into the speakers that ran through the ceiling of the bar and even into the bathrooms. There was no escaping it.

Within 10 minutes my four-cheese pizza arrived. The 12” thin crust white pizza was topped with a thick layering of mozzarella, fontina, parmesan and romano cheese. The crust was crunchy and a bit blackened around the edges, however the added flavor of the woodfired oven more than made up of the little bit of char. Together the cheeses blended well and created a salty-savory and creamy texture. Having the additional side of their house-made marinara sauce added the tanginess that the pizza needed to put it over the top. Sadly, I was only capable of eating half before having the rest boxed up to take home.

Electing not to have Cinder Bar’s trademark giant cookie in a cast iron skillet, I decided to drink my dessert and choose from their wide list of American whisky. Finally settling on my favorite, Angel’s Envy Bourbon, I ordered it on the rocks. After an unexpectedly short wait, the waitress returned with my drink and the check, per my request.

The bourbon was served in a classic tumbler glass with a single large sphere of ice. The heft of the ice keeps it from being poured out of the glass and touching your lips. Angel’s envy has a lighter gold or amber color, aged between four to six years and finished four no more than six months in port barrels. It’s smooth going down, even not chilled, and has an aftertaste of vanilla, light fruit and maple syrup.

A real treat to end an excellent restaurant and bar experience on.

Cinder Bar:

Rating:✮✮✮✮✩

119 Berkley Rd, Clarksboro, NJ 08020

11 a.m.-12 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday

11 a.m.-1 a.m. Thursday

11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday

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