Cru54, Surry Hills

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.


Complimentary Bread

Marinated olives

Simple and tasty these take me back to my time in Barcelona, where I fell truly in love with the humble olive. I remember them being served everywhere, at restaurants as a side or starter or bars alongside your drink of choice – so much better than peanuts! In Barcelona, it was common to be able to choose your flavour (which added more time to the ordering process), but at Cru54, the olives are marinated with lemon zest and a touch of chilli and doused with peppery olive oil.

Sangria

The Cru54 take on sangria is bursting with fruit and simply divine. Generous pieces of apple and orange peek lazily through a pear infused concoction which was light and refreshing; had it been summer, I could have easily polished off a jug.

Tapas Plate (filled with tapas of choice)
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.

Queso de cabra con miel - Caramelised goats cheese with onion compote

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…

Salted cod brandade on toast

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.

Empanadilla filled with spicy eggplant, sundried tomato, fontina cheese and salsa picante (on the side)

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.

Jamon Iberico - Acorn fed ‘pata negra’, aged 40 months, imported from Joselito

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…

Cheeses - Manchego, Blue

Solomillo con foie gras - Aged prime beef fillet and sautéed onions topped with fois gras

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.

Pork with date and fig, quince aioli

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.

Cru54 - Patatas Bravas

Potatoes

Mojo paste and Aioli

Not what I was expecting at all! The Cru54 version of patatas bravas substitutes mojo paste for the traditional spicy tomato sauce and aioli for mayonnaise while potato slices reminiscent of potato scallops replace the standard potato cubes. The mojo paste, blend of cumin and parsley among other things was very good.

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.

Naranjas valencianas y leche meringada con turron - Valencian burnt orange with homemade traditional meringue lemon and cinnamon sorbet with Spanish almond nougat

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.

Cru54
54 Foveaux Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Sydney Australia
Phone: +61 2 9281 1054
http://www.cru54.com.au/

12 comments:

Chris said...

That dessert certainly sounds intriguing! I've always been tempted by the entertainment books, but was saddened by the lack of offerings for the south-west (since I'd be offered them at school, far far away from home). I'm glad you're making such great use of them though!

Simon said...

This looks like it was a great night, even better with the offer from the EB.

Until you said othewise, the salt cod brandade looks liked scrambled eggs on toast.

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

The dessert sounds like a lovely combination. Lemon and cinnamon is a lovely flavour.

Simon Food Favourites said...

good luck in getting through your Entertainment Book. I enjoyed the food at Cru54 as well when i visited last year.
s :-)

Betty said...

that jamon looks delicious...
the entertainment book is fantastic, isn't it?!

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge said...

Everything looks so delcious. I buy the entertainment book for the exact same reason, but mainly to try new places well outside my normal comfort zone. That sangria look freakin amazing, so full of fruit and about to spill right over the rim. What a great find!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Interesting! I've driven past here a few times and wondered what it's like. The goat's cheese with the onion compote sounds divine!

Tina said...

The goat's cheese tapa looks divine. I really must get my hands on the Entertainment Book...

Rilsta said...

Like you and Maria said, the Entertainment book is a great way to try a whole lot of new places without being too disappointed if they suck because at least you didn't have to pay full price! :)

Great blog!

Miss Honey said...

Hi Chris, I can understand where you're coming from, there really isn't very much for that area, I'm quite lucky location wise.

Hi Simon, I agree, the brandade isn't very distinctive, when it came out I almost questioned whether I'd ordered it:S

Hi Arwen, I loved that dessert! Am on a mission to try and make it at home:)

Hi Simon, it's a cute little find isn't it? Has the menu changed since you've been?

Hi Betty, yes! I heart entertainment book:)

Hey Maria! Yes, the sangria was awesome! Helps that I'm quite partial to wine anyway lol.

Hi Lorraine, it's a bit inconspicuous, we almost didn't find it! Across the road from Foveaux, which I've been meaning to try for a while.

Hi Tina, I think you can get them all year round? They're huge, I doubt I'll get through it all.

Hi Rilsta, haha very good point, definitely softens the blow of a bad experience, but on the other hand, makes a good one even better. Glad you're enjoying the blog:)

Kruppy said...

Pork medallions stuffed with date and fig - Now that sounds very interesting! And those photos are making my mouth water! Yum Yum!

Kruppy from Nuffnang

Forager said...

Oh I didn't know this was in the Entertainment book! Thanks for the tip - it's on the to-eat-at list

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