I went to Cru for dinner last night with a foodie friend (which is the best kind of friend to try out a new restaurant with), and wow. What a gem.
The front of the house is scarcely bigger than a hallway, but the high ceiling, mirrored upper-wall and light decor left it feeling airy and open.
They offer a 3 course prix fixe menu (which we dined from) as well as a selection of small plates. The menus are also colour coded with their well-appointed wine list, to give pairing suggestions. My only complaint about anything was the selection of wines by the glass. There were between 2-5 selections for each family of wine, but they duplicated some wine types, so while there were two pinot noirs to choose from, there was no Cabernet or Cab blend. My recommendation – stay away from the Petit Syrah, it’s very small indeed and couldn’t stand up to the flavourful main course I chose. So while there’s an opportunity to pair wines with courses, if you really want the opportunity to sample from the entire list, go with a party of four to six where you’ll share a few bottles to enjoy a wider selection.
But I’m more of a food snob than a wine snob, and the food was FANTASTIC.
I started with the Cellar Door Caesar, a nice twist on the conventional caesar salad with a grilled (and un-sliced, eliminating the “tossed” look) heart of romaine, drizzled with dressing, and topped with asiago, rather than the traditional parmesan cheese. For the carb-lovers, it was accompanied by some large, semi-soft garlic-butter croutons.
Upon recommendation of my dining companion I had the Beef Tenderloin and added Fois Gras. The tenderloin, while not my favourite cut of beef, was lovely and perfectly done (medium rare). The cabernet mushroom demiglaze was a perfect accompaniment, adding another flavour dimension without being too overpowering. The accompanying bleu cheese souffle was also excellent, and the chef did a wonderful job of tempering the usually sharp flavour of the cheese, though not so much so that it couldn’t stand up to its platemate. The fois gras was almost indescribable, perfectly charred on the outside, and absolutely melted in my mouth. A garnish of some crisp grilled seasonal veggies completed this fine, fine dish.
At this point I was perfectly pleased with the dining experience so far. Then dessert came, which bumped my experience from good, to great. If nothing else on the menu excites you, go simply for an espresso or some port and the Bitter Chocolate Torte. It was absolutely phenomenal and totally beyond words. I believe my eyes actually rolled back into my head more than once. The rhubarb, uncomplicated and un-sullied with other fruits or flavours and the creme fraiche went so well with the moist, rich, dark chocolate. As rich as the dish was, the texture was still fairly light (so many times I find tortes to be nearly as dense as a brownie!), so I was able to savour the entire dish without too much trouble, much to the amusement of my dining partner, who refused to help me out and instead insisted the entire dessert could contribute to the widening of my hindquarters.
The service was prompt and attentive, the staff knowledgeable, and the food delightful. I’ll be back for sure.