I am in possession of an Entertainment Book this year. Last year’s edition sat on my bookshelf, forgotten and neglected until we discovered it whilst packing to move house earlier this year– the dust on it screamed waste. The deals are great (especially in today’s economic climate), but the main attraction for me, apart from the fact the money paid for it goes to charity/fundraising, is that it brings to mind places I’ve never even heard of and reminds me to step out of my regular dining bubble and simply try something new. Sydney really is a diverse pot of food and activity fun and the Entertainment Book is a fantastic guide for it.
As part of our EB journey for the year, we headed to Cru54 on Foveaux St for some Spanish/French tapas. Cute little restaurant; small, casual and intimate I found Cru54 remarkably unpretentious, a breath of fresh air for this city. The restaurant is quite small and most seating is placed lining the adjoining arcade. I’d recommend booking and reserving indoors. Herr Mouttarde and I were seated in the arcade and found it a little chilly, which I imagine will only get worse as we approach winter. In the event you can’t secure indoor seating, bring a jacket.
The menu is structured into 4 sections – Tapas, Tablas, Raciones and Desserts. We started the night with tapas, which come in bite sized individual portions and tried the homemade sangria.
Clockwise from bottom left: Piquillo pepper filled with morcilla and chickpeas, Jamon croquette with romesco sauce, 2 empanadas, salted cod brandade on toast, 2 caramelised goat’s cheese with onion compote
The piquillo pepper was full of strong flavours, the smoky piquillo making way for the hearty combination of morcilla (Spanish blood sausage) and chickpeas. I couldn’t quite make out exactly what the croquette was made of, but whatever it was, the deep fried shell encased a soft centre with tiny dispersed pieces of jamon, it was warm and comforting for the chilly night and went well with the accompanying romesco sauce.
A small sphere of goat’s cheese, or as Herr Mouttarde says, in his native French, fromage de chévre, is drizzled with caramel and perched atop a modest mound of tangy onion compote, stabilised by a square of lavosh. Quite satisfying for a few reasons. Firstly it’s the perfect size for a single bite. Secondly, it takes advantage of the sensible matching of rich cheese and tangy compote. Lastly, the luscious cheese melts seductively slowly in your mouth, I’m sure all cheese lovers can imagine…
A generous serving of brandade, however I found it a little bland taste wise. The textures are lovely though, with the smooth, creamy brandade contrasting well with the solid crunch of the toast underneath.
The filling seemed to be dominated by sundried tomato on one end and then the fontina cheese on the other. Being small overall, the pocket for filling inside was even smaller and I don’t think there was enough of the filling to really get the intended flavour explosion.
Paper thin slices of Jamon Iberico were served together with some cheese and French saussicon sec as part the tablas portion of our meal. Your choice of jamon is served with pan con tomate (tomato bread) and crispbread is provided for your choice of cheese…
Our first raciones for the night, this was quite decadent with a slice of fois gras on top of some seriously tender fillet cubes. Full of strong flavours, the portion was definitely enough for two.
One of the specials on the night we went, this was delicious. Succulent pork medallions stuffed with date and fig, again a sensible pairing of flavours, with the quince aioli adding a nice touch.
Service was impeccable that night; we were served by Catherine, the owner, who, apart from being stunning, is also a gracious and knowledgeable host. The warm and efficient service was a definitely a standout.
There’s always room for dessert isn’t there? We finished on a light note, with the leche merengada, and don’t quote me, since I am by no means a Spanish speaker, but this would be Meringued Milk? The description on the menu was a bit confusing but whatever it’s called, it’s a milk based sorbet like dessert flavoured with lemon and cinnamon, served over wedges of slightly burnt Valencia orange and sprinkled with turron, which Catherine tells me they import from the motherland. It’s beautiful, I would have loved more, or even better to be let in on their recipe!
So the entertainment book is serving us well! It’s a heavy brick of a book so I’m guessing it’ll have no trouble getting through the entire year.
54 Foveaux Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Phone: +61 2 9281 1054