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Cru


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  • 3 weeks later...

For some reason, I wasn't able to access this page a few days ago. I had wanted to make a full post on a recent meal I had had at Cru, but I think that an abridged version is all I will be able to remember.

My general feelings for this restaurant are very positive, though not up to the standards of my favorite dining destinations. After eating ridiculously well this summer, Cru will be remembered as very good meal, but will not go down in the figurative history books.

I must qualify all of this by saying that within the same week of dining at Cru, I had already enjoyed tasting menus at wd-50 and Per Se, two nearly incomprable restaurants each in very elite but distinct classes. Cru's food was fun but not as engaging as wd-50. It was well-prepared but nowhere near as exacting and controlled as Per Se. In my eyes, Cru is a solid 2-3 star restaurant that prevails over the majority but cannot break into the ranks of the true elite.

My favorite dishes of the night included:

-A beet and cheese amuse served in an inflated plastic wrap balloon. The goal of this dish was to deprive one of all sense of smell and taste until the soft beet and cheese mixture was literally sucked from the plastic balloon into the mouth. Very, very strange presentation and even offensive to some but I'm into that kind of weird stuff now. It was a fascinating dish.

-The selection of 3 tartares on the tasting menu was very enjoyable. Three very distinct flavors, playing to both Asia and France, while doing the proud flavors of both countries justice.

-Gently poached artic char. Excruciatingly delicate, with the slightest hint of char's distinctive flavor coming through.

-Sous vide surgeon was perfectly done. A great example of what sous vide can do to the meaty but delicately flavored fish.

The only disappointing dish of the night was the lobster dish. It was by no means bad, but it simply did not live up to the quality of the other dishes. The broth/sauce served with the lobster was somewhat vaguely flavored. Again, not offensive by any means just not particularly assertive or delicate. Also, I'm confused the restaurants that serve whole lobster claws. To be honest, the gain in the presentation if offset by the unpleasant meat of the upper claw "fingers". The last time I was at Le Bernardin they served a claw but they, at least, removed the skinny "finger". The skinny "finger" left on at Cru is both aesthetically unpleasing and not enjoyable to eat. (I realize that I sound retarded referring to the "fingers" of the claw, but you'll just have to take my word for it.)

Also, while our server was very pleasant when he was present, he was curiously absent for the duration of the savory part of our meal. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but he never once checked up on us during the savory courses of our tasting menus. Again, not the end of the world, as we had no real complaints while we were eating, but a little more attention would've been appreciated.

In all, a very good restaurant with slight blemishes. I would certainly go back, but I cannot put Cru on list of "favorite" restaurants in the city.

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I read about a chef a couple of years ago who was doing that same technique. He would wrap food in inflated plastic wrap devoid of smell and you would suck the whole thing out. You really did not know what it was until it was in your mouth. The idea was that he would mask the aroma so that you would not know what to expect.

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-Sous vide surgeon was perfectly done.  A great example of what sous vide can do to the meaty but delicately flavored fish.

I can think of a few surgeons I work with who I wouldn't mind preparing sous vide! :laugh::raz:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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-Sous vide surgeon was perfectly done.  A great example of what sous vide can do to the meaty but delicately flavored fish.

I can think of a few surgeons I work with who I wouldn't mind preparing sous vide! :laugh::raz:

I was thinking of a lawyer myself...

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Incidentally, I work in a law office with a bad keyboard that doesn't always respond to my wishes.  I think I won't edit my post in honor of the playful banter that has ensued.

I know that I certainly make more than my share of typos! I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist this one :laugh: It hit too close to home :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I read about a chef a couple of years ago who was doing that same technique. He would wrap food in inflated plastic wrap devoid of smell and you would suck the whole thing out. You really did not know what it was until it was in your mouth. The idea was that he would mask the aroma so that you would not know what to expect.

the cyber egg from davide scabin at al combal in almese

now at combal zero at the rivoli castle outside turin

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QUOTE(borris @ Jul 27 2005, 08:44 AM)

I read about a chef a couple of years ago who was doing that same technique. He would wrap food in inflated plastic wrap devoid of smell and you would suck the whole thing out. You really did not know what it was until it was in your mouth. The idea was that he would mask the aroma so that you would not know what to expect.

the cyber egg from davide scabin at al combal in almese

now at combal zero at the rivoli castle outside turin

Yes, Davide came to NY last month and cooked at CRU with Chef Gallante and his staff. They prepared a bunch of different Cyber Eggs as well as a few other recipes. He was on Fox & Friends that Saturday demonstrating the Cyber Egg, and its numerous applications. Great technique! Chef Scabin is truly a talented visionary and Very underrated!!

Edited by sonneboi (log)
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QUOTE(borris @ Jul 27 2005, 08:44 AM)

I read about a chef a couple of years ago who was doing that same technique. He would wrap food in inflated plastic wrap devoid of smell and you would suck the whole thing out. You really did not know what it was until it was in your mouth. The idea was that he would mask the aroma so that you would not know what to expect.

the cyber egg from davide scabin at al combal in almese

now at combal zero at the rivoli castle outside turin

Yes, Davide came to NY last month and cooked at CRU with Chef Gallante and his staff. They prepared a bunch of different Cyber Eggs as well as a few other recipes. He was on Fox & Friends that Saturday demonstrating the Cyber Egg, and its numerous applications. Great technique! Chef Scabin is truly a talented visionary and Very underrated!!

Why was he at Cru? Did he do a menu? Did you get to sample some of Davide's food?

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  • 6 months later...

Cruisine New York City Entry #71

A spectre is haunting Downtown, the spectre of Community. A gaggle of Manhattan chefs (often tied to the strings and strains of Bouleywood) have concluded that if they cannot pump their plates with a clashing cornucopia of ingredients, they will lack creative cachet among their consorts. The strategy of this club stands in stark contrast to those who embrace the Cuisine of Essences. There are Stakes in Tocque-ville. Chefs have choices. When they select a personal cuisine, they embrace a gustatory team. And Cru's Chef Shea Gallante reveals and revels in his apprenticeship at the red mothership Bouley.

Cru is known for its extensive wine list (a two volume encyclopedia with some 3,500 bottles), and so perhaps cuisine is a lagniappe. It inhabits a space on lower Fifth Avenue known as a cemetery of cuisine. Its current incarnation is a somewhat uninspiring clubby space, neither stunning nor repellent, with woods and leathers, browns, tans, and golds. Our service was attentive, although our waitress pushed us from the wine tasting to a more substantial bottle. Perhaps she was right. Our five small glasses were just fine, if not especially memorable, but we did not have to play oenophile roulette.

In general, at Cru the simpler the dish, the more satisfying. What, aside from throwing up one's hands, is one to do with a dish that mixes Burrata cheese, truffles, dates, caviar, and chive-olive crisps.

We started with a set of amuses. Cru is a restaurant in which one might make a meal of what arrives before the appetizer. Our first amuse was a carrot horn filled with goat cheese and green apple puree. While the cheese and apple blend was smooth and tart, the mixture had been piped in too soon, and the carrot was not fully crisp. We were next served three small bites, a lovely, startling, inspired one-bite Cubano "sandwich," miniaturism at its finest; a squash truffle with Fontina and cocoa nibs, light on the chocolate but a pleasant starter; and an ordinary goat cheese cup. This trio was followed by a salmon spring roll with creme fraiche, simple, clever, profound, and very satisfying.

Before our tasting menu, we selected a trio of crudos: Kinme Dai (with Micro Shiso, Red Salt, and Olive Oil), Arctic Char (with Smoked Pepper, Apple, Endive, and Vanilla Oil), and Langoustine (with Green Papaya-Truffle Salad, Gooseberry and Gin Sauce). I particularly admired how the truffles managed to perfume the langoustine and a lovely, subtle Kinme Dai, in which the salt framed the taste of the fish. Despite a certain frou-frou-arie, it was salt and truffle that made these bits of sashimi memorable. The crudo remain the most elegant and compelling moment of this winter night.

I decided to avoid Beets, Roasted, Foamed and Pureed with "Micro Bull's Blood" (micro bull's blood is not a plot device in "Honey, We Shrunk Pamplona," but a micro-green; beet foam is, presumably, just that). My choice was Roasted Diver Scallops with Celery-Almond Pesto, Passion Fruit Nage, Scallions, and Speck. A critical problem with such dishes on a tasting menu is that portions are so petit that the contrasting flavors get mashed in a short half-dozen bites. I didn't taste much of the passion fruit nage, except perhaps as an underlying off-taste. On a larger field, the ingredients might have mixed better. Here the Scallops and Speck dominated (This is another dish that bows to the new culinary cliche of pork and sea: Trough and Brine). I enjoyed the dish, but mostly from its core tastes.

The second dish was less successful: Sea Bass with wild mushroom goulash, watercress, and coconut puree. Coconut, mushroom, and bass did not make a compelling mix, and the sea bass as served was covered by skin soppy and chewy, not crisp. The dish was unappealing. One must wonder, why - other than the ability to make a claim for excess - did Chef Gallante feel that this dish would work. The other second course choices seemed in my reading to suffer from the same precarious brinksmanship.

The pasta improved my mood. Ricotta Cavatelli, scented with Clove, White Bolognese and Confit Leeks was cooked al dente. I wish Chef Gallante had been more generous with the "clove scent." Perhaps he used an atomizer, stopping short of actually adding a corporeal clove. In contrast to the additions in the first two courses, cloves seemed a profound and inspired addition. I wish it had perfumed the plate, just as the truffle perfumed the langoustine.

"Maine Lobster, Quince Purée, Orzo with Porcini, Smoked Tuna and Tarragon" nicely reveals the challenges of Shea Gallante's Bouleyesque cuisine. Here is a small dish: lobster, fruit, pasta, mushrooms, smoked fish, herbs. Eight bites and onwards. Inevitably things - here the quince and tuna - get lost. Wouldn't perfectly cooked lobster, orzo, porcini and tarragon be nice? Perhaps Tom Keller or David Bouley can pull off these complex combines, but Chef Gallante hasn't yet mastered the puzzling art of culinary intricacy.

Our cleanser was Honeycrisp Apple Consommé with Yogurt Sorbet and Yuzu Cloud. The apple soup was simple and simply outstanding. The yuzu cloud - a cute fuzz - wasn't necessary in this modest dish, but it was fun, and the sorbet was well-made.

When first opened, Cru received paeans and brickbats for Will Goldfarb's Dada Desserts. He is a memory (the current inhabitant of the sweets stand is Tiffany MacIsaac), but judging by my dessert - Sweet Potato Beignet with Huckleberry Compote, Vanilla-Pernod Ice Cream, and Boylan's Root Beer - Cru may be a little gun-shy. I thoroughly enjoyed my Root Beer-Pernod float, but found the beignet doughy and boring. In this two-desserts-in-one, the liquid half triumphed.

So many cunning young chefs are plying their trade in Manhattan 2006, and Chef Gallante must be counted as one of the Crew. Yet, with the exception of his impressive Crudo, none of the dishes will long remain in my memory. Their busyness, striking when one reads the bill of fare, become a burden on the plate. One surely shouldn't condemn Chef Bouley because his followers lack his genius, yet a certain malign influence is evident. Of course, such is the power of influence. Admirers will be inspired, working as best they can, until they realize that the greatest honor they can pay a mentor is not to do him one better. Chef Gallante needs to create a Cruisine.

Cru

24 Fifth Avenue (at 9th Street)

Manhattan (Greenwich Village)

212-529-1700

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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  • 5 months later...

Had an excellent dinner at Cru last night for my birthday. I had been to the bar a couple of times and had a variety of wines by the glass and a dish or two, but this was the first time I had eaten a full meal.

After going through several options (prix fixe, summer tasting menu, just let the chef cook, etc.), we finally decided to design our own six-course tasting menu.

Eckerton Hill Heirloom Tomatoes (A Variety of Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes, Whipped Burrata and 25yr Old Balsamic)

We both got this. I love heirloom tomatoes when they are in season. This dish did not disappoint. It was a relatively simple dressing with the balsamic, a little oil, and salt. The burrata could be used as wished (the tomatoes didn't need it, but it added a nice richness as an accompaniment.) Given the high quality of the tomatoes, the simplicity was greatly appreciated.

Duo of Hudson Valley Foie Gras (Spinach Purée, Gooseberry Salad with Summer Truffle and Caramelized Cauliflower)

We both got this as well. I like almost all foie gras dishes and I liked this one a lot, although not as much as some. It consisted of both seared foie gras and cold pate, the carmelized cauliflower paired with the former and the gooseberry salad with the latter. The seared piece was perfectly carmelized. My wife would have preferred more of a sauce, but I kind of liked the simplicity (different than the more typical fruit compote/sauce approach). The cold pate was good as well, but I would have preferred it with a crusty piece of bread (I was trying to abstain from too much table bread, but this is one place where I might have changed my decision.) Good dish, but a little sparse compared to a lot of foie gras appetizers.

Agnolotto (Stuffed with Fava Beans & Goat Cheese in a Toasted Walnut Butter)

Only I ordered this. I am an absolute fava beans freak, so this dish was a natural for me. The fava bean and goat cheese filling was wonderful and burst perfectly i the mouth. The toasted walnut butter was spare, just enough to keep the whole dish lubricated. Excellent dish.

Handrolled Fuzi (Braised Organic Rabbit, Pancetta, Spring Onions, and Toasted Pine Nuts)

My wife ordered this one. The rabbit flavors blended nicely with the handmade pasta in this dish. In fact, it might have gotten more mention if the chef had not decided to augment both our pastas with the following dish.

Lamb Tortellini (Garlic and Garlic Foam)

Not sure what was mixed in with the lamb in this pasta, but it was a hedonistic gem (who can argue with garlic and lamb?) We would both easily order this if it were served as its own dish. What's a great meal without a great surprise?

Maine Lobster (Fregola-Sweet Corn Ragu, Grilled White Asparagus and Chanterelles, Port-Lobster Sauce)

We both ordered this. Having been born in Maine, I am probably most critical of lobster dishes. This one had some nice touches and was, overall, an excellent dish. Sweet corn and lobster is, in my opinion, one of the absolute best combinations with lobster. I also liked the idea of trying lobster the same way that salmon and char are sometimes cooked, with a sauce more typical of meat, in this case a port sauce. The claw was cooked perfectly, but tail piece was a little tough (an almost universal problem in restaurants with lobster) The combination was very good, although I might have preferred just the lobster with the ragu and chanterelles (personal preference).

Berkshire Pig Tasting (Sliced Loin, Slow Roasted Shoulder and Braised Fresh Bacon

Fava & Runner Beans with Roasted Garlic and Herbs)

This was my last course and my favorite dish, with all pieces of the pig cooked perfectly and the favas. The shoulder had the flavor of suckling pig and the belly had just the right amount of fat rendered out.

"Grain Fed" Veal Loin and Roulade (Cannaletti Beans with Pearl Onions and Baby Spinach, Maitake, Celery Root Purée, Green Garlic-Natural Jus)

My wife is a big veal fan and, hence, chose this for her last savory course. Although a bit undercooked for her taste, the meat was meltingly tender and the accompaniments made for a rich, satisfying dish.

The Wines

Ironically, the only place where I was slightly disappointed was the wine, but this was purely through my own choices, not a reflection on what must surely be one of the finest wine lists in the country. After much discussion about the food, I was looking for a wine option that would provide the right amount of the right type of wine at the right point in the meal. Deciding the wines-by-the-glass list was not compelling on the high end (a change for the worse, I think, as they used to have a '90 Pignan by the glass), I went for 2 half-bottles. The first was a 2002 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet "Caillerets" 1er Cru that was drinking quite well. The second was a 2000 Chateau Beaucastel, which has really begun to close down. It did not have much forward fruit but exhibited the usual tannic cherry element typical of Beaucastel (the Mouvedre). While I generally liked it, my wife was not as enamored and I got her a glass of 1999 Vietti Barolo ‘Castiglione’. I must confess I had forgotten the backward nature of young Beaucastel and would have been better served choosing one of my other options or asking the sommelier's recommendation. Nevertheless, it was my error, not the restaurant's. Still, the 2 half-bottles was the right approach for us given the size and duration of the meal. Finally, I had a glass of 1985 Taylor Fladgate instead of dessert, which was a pure pleasure to drink.

Overall, I would probably put Cru in the top handful of restaurants we have eaten at. Being big fans of both Bouley and Veritas, I would say this combines the best elements of both, while maintaining its own identity.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Would they have done pairings?

(I don't remember that having been offered as an option when I had the tasting menu there, but sometimes you have to ask.)

They had pairings available for the summer tasting menu and I imagine they would have done the same with our menu. Only two problems I had with that at the time:

1. I assumed, perhaps naively, that they would do the pairings based on the wines by the glass being offered, which I wasn't wowed by (they weren't bad, but I found more interesting half-bottles).

2. The last time I did a pairing, I was barely able to remember the end of the meal, so I was worried from a self-preservation perspective. :wink:

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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  • 2 months later...

Dined at the bar just a couple of weeks ago, and in the dining room back in January. I think the food is fantastic. There should be a full thread on here somewhere. His pastas are stellar, as are his meats, and when there's meat in the pasta, well, it's just divine. One of my favorite restaurants right now. Everyone I know who's been there has loved it.

Edited to add thread: Cru thread

Edited by daisy17 (log)
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  • 6 months later...
Giving this forum a little nudge.  Has anyone been recently?  Tasting menu?

I went a few weeks back, though not for a tasting menu, sadly. They had offered to cook for our table, but my friends wanted to go for the prix fixe. :angry: It was a solid meal from top to bottom, however, with the highlight being the pastas (Shea's pastas are the best in the city, IMHO).

The menu structure has changed completely. A la carte is gone. The choices are now either the prix fixe or the tasting menu. Overall, the food feels a bit more conservative than it has on past visits, where I remember some dishes veering close to Liebrandt/Dufresne territory. This isn't by any means a criticism, just an observation; the food is just too well executed and too damned tasty to criticize on those terms. That said, I'm looking forward to going back in a couple of weeks for a full tasting.

Nothing to see here.

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