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Spring ushers in superb new menu items at Crane's

In a burst of color and flavors fresh from thegarden and the sea, Crane's Tavern celebratesthe arrival of spring by launching a seasonalmenu next week.

Crane's has made its mark in the culinarycommunity as a destination for beef, but therestaurant also serves many other dishes whichoffer a completely different dining experience.In the spring and summer, the unassuming,casually elegant restaurant on HiltonHead Island's New Orleans Road expands itsfish and seafood offerings. On a typical night,selections may include scallops, shrimp, a coldwater lobster tail entree and crab cakes.

"Behind the prime rib, the number one menuitem that people come to Crane's for is actuallythe crab cakes," said Beth Ann Crane, whoowns and runs the restaurant with her father,Hank Crane.

Made of 95 percent Maryland lump backcrab with very little filler, the crab cakes are"very pure in quality and taste," she said.They are lightly browned by being pan sautèedand then finished off in the oven.

The grilled salmon fillet is an example of alighter, healthy option with vibrant flavors.It's garnished with tiny pieces of fresh orange,capers, fresh basil and orange zest. The salmonis served with white rice that's made interestingby the addition of small chunks of fetacheese and fresh parsley, and a vegetable ofthe day or Crane's famous creamed spinach.

On the appetizer menu, the grilled vegetablesNapoleon combines slices of yellowsquash, zucchini and eggplant drizzled with abalsamic vinegar and olive oil reduction andserved between two puff pastries. The dish isfinished with a twirl of scallion-infused oil, thenadorned with green scallions.

Crane's also serves pork, chicken and avegetarian mushroom ravioli. The restaurant'ssalads come in two sizes and feature plenty offresh vegetables.

"Basically, we have something for everyone,"Beth Anne Crane said.In the intimate dining room, black and whitephotographs chronicle four generations in therestaurant business. Crane's opened on HiltonHead Island in 1999.

All of Crane's steaks-ribeyes, filet mignonand sirloin- are generously hand carved,prime grade and come in sizes from petite tolarge. All steaks can be prepared au poivre,with Crane's secret recipe for a Jack Daniel'sor with a mushroom demi-glaze.

The restaurant's early fare dining menu is agreat deal. It's offered daily from 5 to 6 p.m.and includes a house salad, four entree choicesand a glass of house wine for $16.95. Therestaurant also has a bar menu, including anaward-winning burger, sandwiches, a FrenchDip, and oysters on the half shell.