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A lot of people sleep on Cru, which is unfortunate.  Shea's cooking is some of the best in the city, IMHO.

Cru is doing just fine. Just check for reservations on OpenTable, and you'll see how hard it is to get in at prime times.

Tell me about it, thankfully, I planned in advance. However, I recently found out that Chef Gallante won't be in the kitchen the night I visit. :sad:

Who's the Pastry Chef now?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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  • 3 weeks later...

In what seems to be an endless pantheon of great NYC restaurants, Cru had always been a place I'd wanted to go, but had just never actually gone. Thursday night, I remedied that in a big way.

A friend and I walked in to a sparsely populated restaurant, already a bit past 10:30, their latest seating time. I inquired with the staff as to whether or not the tasting menu would even be an option that late in the evening. In a testament to the fact that the NYC fine dining scene is really a small family, I noticed a gentleman who had been my server at Daniel back in December. He recognized me, too, came over and said hello, and went back to the kitchen to see what they might be able to do for us.

We then took our seats at a nice corner banquette, and were presented with glasses of champagne. This was followed by inquiries as to whether or not we had any allergies, and whether or not we had brought our appetites. At this point, I was a happy man, as knew we were in for a treat. The kitchen would cook for us. The sommelier would pair wines.

Really outstanding meal. I think it worked out to somewhere around 11 courses, with just about as many glasses of wine. (They are supposed to e-mail me the food and wine details, so I may add that info when I receive it.) A scallop course in particular really sticks out in my mind of being probably the single best preparation of that ingredient I've ever had. But really, there was not a glaring weakness among any of the courses, it was quite consistent. The pairings were also very nice. Especially the wine that came with the cheese course (By that point, the wine was taking its toll, so I forget the name.) After the check came, we also enjoyed a taste of Chateau d'Yquem with our server before we left (a bit before 2am). A wonderful finale to what had been a wonderful meal.

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In what seems to be an endless pantheon of great NYC restaurants, Cru had always been a place I'd wanted to go, but had just never actually gone.  Thursday night, I remedied that in a big way.

A friend and I walked in to a sparsely populated restaurant, already a bit past 10:30, their latest seating time.  I inquired with the staff as to whether or not the tasting menu would even be an option that late in the evening.  In a testament to the fact that the NYC fine dining scene is really a small family, I noticed a gentleman who had been my server at Daniel back in December.  He recognized me, too, came over and said hello, and went back to the kitchen to see what they might be able to do for us.

We then took our seats at a nice corner banquette, and were presented with glasses of champagne.  This was followed by inquiries as to whether or not we had any allergies, and whether or not we had brought our appetites.  At this point, I was a happy man, as knew we were in for a treat.  The kitchen would cook for us.  The sommelier would pair wines.

Really outstanding meal.  I think it worked out to somewhere around 11 courses, with just about as many glasses of wine.  (They are supposed to e-mail me the food and wine details, so I may add that info when I receive it.)  A scallop course in particular really sticks out in my mind of being probably the single best preparation of that ingredient I've ever had.  But really, there was not a glaring weakness among any of the courses, it was quite consistent.  The pairings were also very nice.  Especially the wine that came with the cheese course (By that point, the wine was taking its toll, so I forget the name.)  After the check came, we also enjoyed a taste of Chateau d'Yquem with our server before we left (a bit before 2am).  A wonderful finale to what had been a wonderful meal.

I definitely agree with you here -- Cru is on my #3 list for Food, right behind L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Per Se.

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Tupac, how do you feel your meal compared in quality to the other fine dining you've been doing in New York recently? And after all that wine, were you dead drunk?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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In what seems to be an endless pantheon of great NYC restaurants, Cru had always been a place I'd wanted to go, but had just never actually gone.  Thursday night, I remedied that in a big way.

A friend and I walked in to a sparsely populated restaurant, already a bit past 10:30, their latest seating time.  I inquired with the staff as to whether or not the tasting menu would even be an option that late in the evening.  In a testament to the fact that the NYC fine dining scene is really a small family, I noticed a gentleman who had been my server at Daniel back in December.  He recognized me, too, came over and said hello, and went back to the kitchen to see what they might be able to do for us.

We then took our seats at a nice corner banquette, and were presented with glasses of champagne.  This was followed by inquiries as to whether or not we had any allergies, and whether or not we had brought our appetites.  At this point, I was a happy man, as knew we were in for a treat.  The kitchen would cook for us.  The sommelier would pair wines.

Really outstanding meal.  I think it worked out to somewhere around 11 courses, with just about as many glasses of wine.  (They are supposed to e-mail me the food and wine details, so I may add that info when I receive it.)  A scallop course in particular really sticks out in my mind of being probably the single best preparation of that ingredient I've ever had.  But really, there was not a glaring weakness among any of the courses, it was quite consistent.  The pairings were also very nice.  Especially the wine that came with the cheese course (By that point, the wine was taking its toll, so I forget the name.)  After the check came, we also enjoyed a taste of Chateau d'Yquem with our server before we left (a bit before 2am).  A wonderful finale to what had been a wonderful meal.

I definitely agree with you here -- Cru is on my #3 list for Food, right behind L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Per Se.

Cru is a restaurant that many have urged me to visit, and I finally made it in a couple of weekends ago. tupac's post upthread has prompted me to take advantage of my sleeplessness to finally post about it.

All the photos from the meal and further commentary on the dishes, go to my flickr site.)

Overall, my meal at Cru was very good, but the experience, and especially the service, was un-impressive.

I decided to visit Cru after falling in love with the tasting menu online. Despite having emailed and called the restaurant to inquire about having the kitchen cook for us, I received no call-back or email responses. Nothing was mentioned or acknowledged about my request when we arrived either. I decided to let it go and enjoy the tasting menu; I hadn't expected that the kitchen would be willing/able to cook for us anyway, since it was a weekend night. Regardless, some kind of response or acknowledgment would have been appreciated.

I think Cru's reputation for an extraordinary wine program can overshadow Gallante's skills in the food department. Many had told me that Cru is all about the wine. While I'm sure their wine list is extraordinary (I don't have the budget or the experience to know), from my experience, it's not all about the wine. The food is rather spectacular in its own right.

I truly enjoyed almost every course we had, except the very first - "Marinated Fluke." But, that is a personal taste preference - I'm not a big fluke fan - I find it rather bland, and the texture is slightly mushy regardless of freshness.

The "Sepia and Rock Shrimp" and the "Buttermilk-Poached Poularde" stand out as the highlights of the meal. The "Black Bass" was also excellent, its texture (either sous-vides or poached in fat) was very memorable - that state between raw and cooked that I love.

Despite being known for pasta, Gallante's "Tortellini of Sweet Corn" failed to grab me. It was good - the past was cooked properly, but tortellini is one of those pastas where it's more about the pasta than about the filling. There wasn't enough sweet corn filling for me to appreciably taste or enjoy. I had looked forward to the combination of sweet corn along with the speck and ramps. The ramps were the only thing that stood out in the end.

Overall, flavors were nuanced and balanced. Again, nothing disappointing, but nothing creative or ground-breaking for me. As BryanZ put it in his recent post about Babbo, there were no "aha!" moments to this meal.

The wine pairings were nice, but similar to the food, unremarkable on the whole, save a Cassis Blanc that went particularly well with the "Sepia" course.

tupac, I'll be interested to hear about your dessert(s), as the one on the tasting menu sounded absolutely boring ("Dark Chocolate Financier, White Chocolate Mousse, Milk Chocolate Sorbet"). All of us requested to have something else substituted in its stead, a request which was accommodated. We were all pleased with our substitutions. (Does anyone know who the pastry chef is?)

As I stated up-post, service was the main disappointment. It may have been because it was busy night (the restaurant was full when we walked in at 8pm - but at this level of dining, I still see very little excuse), but our server/sommelier seemed distracted through the first few courses. I would describe his m.o. to be "cool." He wasn't outrightly rude, but there was a "I'm too busy to be bothered" smugness that turned us off (I was not the only one who got this impression).

The only care he seemed to show us is when he brought out a separate flute for my friend (who wasn't getting the wine pairing), who wanted to share a bit of my champagne and had poured it from my flute into his wine glass. The server/sommelier was kind enough to bring out an extra wine glass for my friend for the subsequent courses. Not to be a pessamist, but even this act was not a clear indication of friendliness to me, as the flute came out with a comment to the effect of, "I truly don't care to see you trying to enjoy your wine out of a glass, sir. Here's a flute"

Half-way through the meal, one of the managers came over and started chatting us up. I'm not sure if this is customary, but he seemed to really take interest in our table. Following his drop-by, service improved remarkably. Our once dour-faced server warm up and was even pleasant through the remainder of the meal.

The dining room is reserved, and not one who's style that I particularly admire. But, it serves its purpose, I suppose - a comfortable and undistracting space with sound-absorbing banquettes, upholstered chairs and thick carpeting. I was surprised that even though the dining room was packed, it didn't seem loud.

I'd return to Cru, but I'm not in a hurry anytime soon.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Tupac, how do you feel your meal compared in quality to the other fine dining you've been doing in New York recently? And after all that wine, were you dead drunk?

Pan, sorry I neglected to respond to this yet. Your question is certainly a relevant one. And very timely, considering that in the past six months or so, I've been doing A LOT of fine dining in NY -- Per Se, Daniel, Alain Ducasse, Jean Georges, Le Bernadin, Blue Hill @ Stone Barns, Eleven Madison Park, Picholine, Aureole, Country, Gordon Ramsay – and these meals are all still very fresh in my memory.

Admittedly, the restaurant ranking game is not something I find myself to be particularly good at. But to answer your question, I'll try to provide some comparisons to the above restaurants:

Cru is not four-star food a la Per Se or Alain Ducasse (N.B. I don't mean this from a strictly NY Times star perspective, but rather a looser association of 4-star=outstanding, 3-star=excellent, 2-star=good, 1-star=satisfactory.) Personally I don't consider the food at Daniel to be 4-star, while the service most definitely has been in my experience. Similarly I don't find the food at Jean Georges to reach amazing heights, but you won't find me arguing against the fact that it's the best lunch deal in town. And I thought Le Bernadin offered wonderfully prepared, if sometimes oddly contrived, seafood, but in a hectic service environment that I’d much sooner liken to a zoo than a fine dining restaurant. I digress, but I think it's important that I first clarify a bit about my own personal preferences, separating what I consider to be amazing food from what I consider to be merely very good.

Cru is, however, a strong three-star, in my opinion. I found the food quality on par with recent meals at places such as Picholine, Aureole and Country, for example. Not as exciting to me as Eleven Madison Park, but I qualify that by pointing out that I found my meal at EMP to be outstanding and undoubtedly among the best I've ever had in the city, period. Furthermore, I felt the food at Cru, on the whole, was certainly better than Gordon Ramsay (which I still think should have three stars, but that's another thread), and lighter and more refined than Country. And this may not be Le Bernadin, but Chef Gallante certainly knows how to deal with fish. I found the seafood courses (especially the scallop) to be among the best of the evening.

Service, as well, was top-notch. Our captain Carlos took great care of us, as did Rocky, the gentleman who, coincidentally, had also been my waiter at Daniel during a meal there where I enjoyed equally wonderful service. Do the waitstaff always get a bit more chatty with patrons having the kitchen cook for them? Probably so. Does that kind of attention make it any less special to receive, for example, an e-mail from them a few days later sending good wishes for my upcoming summer in Italy? Absolutely not. I found the hospitality before, during, and after the meal to be top-notch. It was not stiff like, say, Picholine or Gordon Ramsay. It was a more relaxed, casual form of service that can be more likened to a place like Eleven Madison Park. This is not to say it was overly casual. Rather, I think they properly read from us the direction that we would’ve liked the service to go that evening, and they ran with it. It was a celebratory occasion and a light-hearted sense of formality, not a solemn session of chef-worship, that we were in the mood for that evening.

Overall, I often find the most important litmus test for my thoughts on a particular restaurant is if and when I see myself returning. That being said, I definitely found Cru worthy of return visits. I found the food both compelling enough and delicious enough to make me eager to see what else Chef Gallante can do. It was, by any standards, a blowout meal. It’s not everyday I find myself willing to drop 250+ dollars on a dinner. But I could quite easily see myself making this restaurant an every-once-in-a-while kind of place rather than a once-a-year splurge kind of place.

Hope that at least partially answers your question.

Oh, and yeah, ten glasses of wine does take a bit of a toll by the end. I certainly wouldn’t say I was dead drunk, but I’ve definitely been more sober. :wink:

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Oh, and for reference, I should also add the menu and wine pairing that we enjoyed:

Cru - May 17th, 2007

Amuse Bouche

Ricotta & Sweet Pea Tart, Red Wine & Fontina Arancini

Yellow Basinga Tomato Gazpacho

Maine Lobster and Smoked Sturgeon Caviar

Leclaire-Gaspard Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV

Assortment of Crudo

Kisu, Suzuki, Big Eye Tuna, and Hamachi

Bourgogne Aligoté 2005 Domaine Roulot

Seared Sea Scallop with Rock Shrimp

Confit Fennel, Grape Tomato and a Ginger-Savory Sauce

Savenniére “Clos du Papillon” 2004 Closel

Medallion of Maine Skate Wing

Ragu of Runner & Yellow Wax Beans, Spring Onion, Frisée and Tomato

Viognier Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes 2005 Villard

Duo of Risotto & Pasta

Vialone Nano Risotto

Sea Urchin, Tomatoes, and Tarragon

&

Housemade Ricotta Cavatelli

Crumbled Veal Sausage, Ramps, Speck and Baked Ricotta Salata

Dolcetto d’Alba ‘Vigna Scot’ 2005 Cavallotto

Long Island Duck Breast

Wild Asparagus, Parsnip, and a Red Wine-Plum Purée

Nuits St. George 1er Cru ‘Clos de l’Arlot’1998 Domaine de l’Arlot

Slow Roasted Beef Short Ribs

Ramp Spaetzle, Cippolini Onion, and Pancetta

Barolo ‘Cannubi’ 1997 Francesco Rinaldi

Selection of Cheese

Mt. Tam, Epoisse, and Tomme de Chataignier

Coteaux de Layon Sélections de Grains Nobles 2003 Delesvaux

Strawberry Consommé

Rhubarb and Buttermilk Sorbet

Warm Valrhona Chocolate Tart

Chai-Caramel Ice Cream with Butter Pecan

Bourbon Vanilla-Shake

Maury Domaine des Schistes 2004

Mignardises

Chocolate Amaretti, Thyme Caramels, Gingersnaps

Château d’Yquem 1995

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Tomme de Chataignier is so hot right now

It's on Gramercy Taverns's cheese list, and when I went to Murrays to get some cheese for a wine tasting at my store, it will super ripe and awesome and I picked up a pound.

Must be a new shipment in town or summin'

I imagine it comes from one source.... I heard this guy Herve Mons...

Edited by chefboy24 (log)
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Oh, and for reference, I should also add the menu and wine pairing that we enjoyed:...

tupac,

All good things. Sounds like you had a grand time! The Chai-Caramel ice cream sounds fantastic, as does the Vanilla Bourbon Shake.

Rocky was the manager I alluded to that came to my table mid-meal and struck up a inquisitive and energetic exchange. He too mentioned that he was at Daniel and had thought my friend and I looked familiar (in fact, it was the same friend that was with me at Daniel).

No Tomme de Chataignier on our cheese plates - Cabra Romero, Mt. Tam, Hooligan (Cato Corner), Perail (I've never heard of or encountered this cheese before), and Persille.

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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  • 2 years later...

No posts since 2007? Wow. They're substantially less busy now (no surprise, I guess) – I managed to walk in and get a table in the dining room just now (on a Saturday) with no real trouble. The tasting menu isn't actually on the menu any more, which is a real pity – I wasn't quite sure what to expect (it was described only in the broadest terms), but it was quite a treat, especially the sweetbread ravioli. I probably should have realized before ordering the wine pairing that it would have ended up being entirely too much wine for me to drink comfortably, but, still, easily the best meal I've had in a month or two.

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I hear a rumor (may be just that; anyone?) that they're not long for this world.  Anyone with real info?

Ouch, is it? Given that they weren't very busy even on a Saturday night, I guess it's all too plausible.
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Moderator's Note:

At this point, there were a number of posts which were about Cru and the restaurant economy in general. Those posts have been moved to a topic called New York City Restaurant Economy 2009, and they may be found by clicking here.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 2 months later...
  • 5 months later...

I have reservations at Cru tomorrow night. I was wondering if anyone has eaten there since the departure of Shea Gallante, and since their purported financial difficulties came to light last year.

I haven't, but I'd be very curious to hear what happened with that whole 30% wine price reduction rumor.

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Went Monday night. Food was okay but not revelatory. Did not see a 30% reduction in the wine prices, but the wine pairings were inspired. Restaurant was quite empty: other than me, there was a group of six co-workers, a couple, and two women at the bar. Very quiet and somewhat forlorn.

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I actually had a copy of the red wine menu saved in some browser download folder from last July. Compared it to the current one available off their website and sadly it's identical. The question is whether that's any different than what's offered at the restaurant.

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agreed, I've actually been waiting for the reduced wine list to be published for some time now. I finally thought to check this week and was surprised to see most of the bottles that I cared about increased in price (in most cases, dramatically increased by 50-70%). perhaps there's a subsection of this list that saw the 30% price reduction. but with the new higher prices on their trophy wines, Cru's list went from being interesting and fairly-priced (albeit expensive) to egregious. By comparison, Veritas still has their 25% off deal -- on top of an already fairly-priced list, that's where I'll be spending my wine dollars.

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Dear eGullet members,

This is my first post as I typically do not respond to comments about the restaurant but I have been asked by my colleagues here to try and set the record straight about our wine program.

Specifically, I would like to take a moment to reply to the comments that we haven't changed our prices at CRU. Once Todd Macdonald took over the kitchen at CRU, we decided to change several things about our approach to the dining experience, namely the cost and the time of a meal. The food prices are lower, the food comes out more quickly and in general it is a lot more wine friendly than in the recent past.

Regarding wine prices, we have lowered thousands of wine prices most notably in Burgundy, where the majority of our collection lies. It was recently brought to my attention that the website is referencing an old wine list and not the current list. I must apologize for the confusion but for those who come to the restaurant and look at the wine list itself the price changes are obvious. The website will be updated asap.

We are still finishing the changes in the red book in Italy and the "New World" but for those guests who inquire about these wines, our sommeliers Greg Majors and Michael Bannigan have been flexible in changing the prices at the moment.

The price changes is most visible in the middle of the price range, the $200-$400 wines, as the wines under $100 didn't have a lot of margin built in before so any price change doesn't seem as dramatic as the higher end selections.

In addition to lowering prices, we have also begun to accept corkage ($35/btl) with the corkage charge being waved on Monday evenings for guests who make reservations.

We hope that you will come by and see the new wine lists for yourselves and take a moment to experience chef Macdonald's new menu. We are very proud to have him workign with us.

Please feel free to contact anyone of us on the wine team if you have any questions or comments. greg@cru-nyc.com or michael@cru-nyc.com

thank you for your time

best

Robert

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