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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American West Village Break the Bank Off the Charts

I love meals that start with little snacks—amuse bouche, canapés, hors d’ouerves—whatever you call them—you get the idea. I call them little snacks, and to me, they are just pure silliness and joy—lots of lively contrasting flavors, tucked into a one-bite blast to wake up your mouth and your appetite. At Cru, executive chef Shea Gallante’s modern European restaurant and wine-lovers paradise, every tables gets four rounds of little snacks to start the evening off on the right foot.

On the night we were there, we were served petite ice cream cones fashioned from the sheer ruby red beet chips, and were piped with an earthy red beet puree, that was topped off with tart goat cheese crème fraiche. Then came the golden, grape-sized bacalau croquettes, and then two mini-grilled cheese sandwiches, skewered so they resembled grilled cheese lollipops. Each hot and crispy fontina sandwich was wrapped in prosciutto—a proper salty foil for the nutty cheese. The final snack was a tiny tart the size of a quarter. The pastry crust was made with Montassio cheese and was filled with a creamy whipped robiola mousse. Pop it in your mouth—the whole thing, yes—and you get this great wave of flavors and textures.

And all of this—plus classic cocktails, a glass of sparkling wine, or whatever you choose to drink while devouring these little snacks—occurs within the first ten minutes of your arrival at Cru. What could be better? Well, what could be better is what follows.

Shea Gallente, 31, Cru’s young and devastatingly handsome executive chef, is not kidding around at Cru. This is serious, hi-brow, cerebral cuisine prepared from stunning ingredients, with flawless technique. Meals are careful, plot-driven dramas. This is not Reality TV, and Shea is not another Average Joe.

The talent in this kitchen comes from Gallante’s pedigree. He spent three years learning impeccable technique and avant-garde culinary style from David Bouley, where he was eventually promoted to sous chef under Galen Zamarra (the chef and partner at Mas) and then to Chef De Cuisine in 2001. Prior to joining Bouley, he worked with Dodo Nicotra, the executive chef at Lidia Bastianich’s Italian temple, Felidia, making pastas and learning the art of Italian cooking.

Both sides come through on his menu at Cru, a softly lit, sedate restaurant owned by Roy Welland (Washington Park, Barbuto). The menu features four sections, begging with Crudo (all, $6), the It ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in West Village :
+ Jefferson-- Closed   + La Palapa Rockola   + Sumile   + Babbo   + Tasca   + AOC Bedford   + Home   + The Spotted Pig   + Barbuto   + Numero 26   + Mas   + August   + Alta   + Cru   + Blue Mill Tavern-- Closed   + Employees Only   + Lassi   + Metropol--Closed   + Turks and Frogs   + Bellavitae   + Yumcha-- CLOSED   + Gusto: SEE EARLIER REVIEW; THIS CHEF HAS LEFT GUSTO   + Perry Street   + Home   + Ditch Plains   + The Little Owl   + Cafe Condesa   + Cafe Cluny   + Gusto   + The Waverly Inn   + Morandi   + P*ONG   + Perilla   + Soto   + Market Table   + Centro Vinoteca   + Barfry   + Dell'Anima   + Bar Blanc   + Smith's   + Commerce   + Elettaria   + Bar Q   + Cabrito   + 10 Downing   + Minetta Tavern   + Braeburn   + Scuderia, by guest reviewer Kathleen Squires   + Bar Blanc Bistro by Guest Reviewer Kathleen Squires   + Joseph Leonard   + Bar Henry, by Guest Reviewer Kathleen Squires   + Kin Shop   + Monument Lane   + Wong   + Bin on Bleecker, by Dara Pollak   + Ristorante Rafele   + Cole's Greenwich Village by Guest Reviewer Claire Jaffe   

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