Cru – NYC

August 17, 2007

On August 14, 2007 Linda and I dined at Cru, which says it has the second largest wine cellar of any American restaurant, 65,000 bottles. (The first is Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa.) The captain told us that Cru has almost every wine in the list “represented” on site, but that most of the bottles are in a big cellar in New Jersey or in their “staging” cellar in Beaune, in Burgundy. Cru has a star in the NYC Michelin Guide. 

On being seated we were presented with two thick leather-bound wine lists, one for red and one for white. Fortunately there were only three choices of sparkling wines by the glass, all champagnes. We ordered a glass of de Meric 1er Cru Brut “Sous Bois” NV and a glass of Leclaire-Gaspard Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV. I preferred the dry toastiness of the second one and Linda liked the fuller flavor of the first.

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The hors d’œuvres were a tartelette of chick pea with mint and a hot cheese ball.  

One has the option of a regular menu with selections in each of three courses at $78 or of a Tasting Menu at $110, plus $85 for the optional wine pairings. With the tasting menu we chose the pairings as we thought they would be instructive, but we also took some time to peruse the wine lists, which are encyclopedic. Of course, most bottles are very expensive. There are plenty of choices in two digits, but none of them are bargains. There are several pages of recommended wines in the front of each book to make the job easier.  

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The first course was Marinated Fluke, Green Apple, Hearts of Palm, and Lemon;  

de Meric 1er Cru Brut NV ‘Sous Bois.’ 

The fluke was good, but too subtle to need the garnishes. Since we had already had a glass of the de Meric Champagne, we were offered an Aligoté from near Meursault which I chose and enjoyed, but Linda stayed with the de Meric.  

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The second course was Herb crusted fresh ricotta, Black Mission Figs, Baby Greens and Sunburst Tomatoes; 

La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry. 

This was okay. I’m not really a fan of cheese in an early course, although a warmed crottin on salad greens is a regular starter in France.  (The figs tonight were green; they were good, but sparse. There were also pieces of beet.) I’m also used to something with a saltier bite to go with sherry. The Manzanilla was nice, dry, but not overly so. 

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The third course was Filet of black sea bass, Ragout of Sweet Peas & Greens, Shiitakes and a Saffron Sauce;  

Kuenhof Grüner Veltliner 2004.  

The piece of seabass was excellent, flavorful and with a crusted skin. The shiitakes and little peas were good and appropriate. I could not detect the saffron taste. This Grüner Veltliner is from the Südtirol, the Alpine district of Italy where people speak German, but you know they are Italian because they have a sense of humor and good food. It pairs very well with the seabass, but tastes somewhat like green apple juice.

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The fourth course was Squid ink tagliatelle, Rock Shrimp, Spring Garlic, Broccoli Rabe and Peperoncini; 

Château du Puligny Montrachet 2002.   

This course was excellent. It was all held together by what seemed to be a shellfish/tomato stock. We were told that 2002 was a great vintage for white Burgundy wines, but the wine seemed very ordinary. It even had a slightly unpleasant tartness, which may have been an effect from the Grüner Veltliner.  I was disappointed that, while this is a prestigious name, we were not served something more imaginative. 

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The fifth course was a Warm salad of Berkshire pig, Summer Beans Dressed in Pistachio & Herbs with a Sherry jus; 

Vignalibus Cesanese Olevano Romano 2005.   

This was very well done. The piece of pork was smaller and leaner than the chunks of glazed pork belly which are popular now in trendy NY restaurants. There was a nicely caramelized skin and they wisely avoided too much vinegar in the dressing. The wine is from the region around Rome. Its youthfulness cut down the fat of the pork. It is not a great wine, but is the kind of imaginative wine pairing for which we were looking. 

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The sixth course was Roasted breast of Pekin duck, Glazed Rainbow Carrots, Maitakes and Brussels Sprouts, Port Wine-Natural Jus; 

Giroud Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune 2003. 

I didn’t like this course; the “port wine” sauce was cloying and wine-unfriendly. Linda liked the dish. We were told how hot the summer of 2003 was in France, and how that is good for red Burgundy, but I found the wine ordinary. 

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The pre-dessert was iced creams of passion fruit, basil, strawberry and coconut with a honey-sesame strip. 

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The dessert was a Tasting of chocolate: Dark Financier, White Mousse and Milk Chocolate Sorbet;  

Domaine des Schistes Maury 2004. 

The dessert was good, but it is a mystery why they would choose chocolate for a menu featuring wine. There are so many sweet wines which would go well with a fruit dessert. I agree with those who say that the best wine to go with chocolate is an old Banyuls. The young Maury was theoretically in the same style, but was not up to the task.

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There were three little mignardises.  

The meal had moved right along; the pace was just right; if it were faster we would have felt rushed. The restaurant was not full on this mid-August Tuesday. The décor is nice, soft grays etc. With the high ceilings and no music the noise level is calm and pleasant. The clientele was quite mixed, as was its dress.

Our waiter was attentive and gave us extensive descriptions of each wine, but the reality in the glass didn’t always match the rhetoric.  We were disappointed in the end at having chosen the wine pairing. The only real revelation was the Romano. What is the point of having Cru’s huge list if they select wines which can easily be found on many smaller lists? It is not clear how we would have chosen ourselves. An apéritif, a bottle of white and a bottle of red would have been too much and too expensive.   

But we had an enjoyable meal; Linda was more enthusiastic about it than I was. We will probably go back.    

www.cru-nyc.com

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One Response to “Cru – NYC”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    This is from Gary & Varian’s niece:
    I visited Cru when it first opened and had a lovely dinner. I haven’t returned, mostly because I thought the dining room too large and the atmosphere a bit stuffy. But I want to encourage you to try again–I had wonderful wines with my meal, thanks to the thoughtful suggestions of the sommelier (not the server). The food was fairly standard for this type of restaurant–neither disappointing nor revelatory. Don’t go for the pairings next time and invite friends who drink heavily!


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