CLOSED: CRU (Toronto)

LBS has switched out their three letters for three new ones … CRU. With the change, the menu’s morphed from similarly priced seafood options to a more standard format. No worries, their spacious banquette seating environment and large bar still remains.

CRU’s menu now straddles a variety of proteins and cultures. Items such as the burrata ($19) and brown butter gnocchi ($23) have an Italian influence, although updated with different spices. The burrata is covered with a date compote, honey, tangy za’atar seasoning, and tons of micro greens to give the creamy cheese a Middle Eastern flair. It’s rather refreshing, but better suited for summer months; I was craving something more comforting and sinful.

The brown butter gnocchi ($23) was more satisfying – well flavoured plump soft nuggets in a savoury brown butter sauce with earthy chestnuts, crunchy lightly pickled cauliflower, and briny capers thrown in. The gnocchi is a richer dish and works well for sharing.

Their starters are the more adventurous options. Thumbnail sized caviar doughnuts (complimentary order shown below; normal order is $16) takes a dense cake batter and glazes it with sweet crème fraiche. It’s kept savoury by decorating the pastry with radish, chives, and, of course, caviar. If you like sweet and salty combinations, this one will blow the typical bacon and maple glaze version out of the water.

I was actually fooled by the vegan ‘nduja (complimentary order shown below; normal order is $11) where the spicy salty spread did taste like the pork version – the only difference being it was much smoother. Topped on crispy grilled bread, slices of pickled fennel and dill were a good attempt to balance out the powerful spread. If the smokiness was toned down a bit, the ‘nduja may be even better.  

CRU’s mains were definitely what impressed our table with the aged duck breast ($29) being the favourite. The combination of gamey duck meat, thin sliver of fat, and well rendered crispy skin made for a tasty bite. As the juices and fat melded together on my taste buds, I instantly wanted another bite. Paired with soft confit squash and some pumpkin seed crumble, the dish definitely had a fall/winter flair.

Some people may find the Angus striploin ($33) a tad chewy but I enjoyed the well seared crust and deep beef flavours. Even the glazed celeriac, paired with the dish, was a treat. Usually the root vegetable is served in a puree form, its flavours diluted by cream, butter, or stock. Left whole, so that its natural tastes were prevalent, it made for an interesting side - imagine something that has the texture of turnip but the after taste of celery.

While we knew not to expect Chabrol caliber apple tart tatin ($10), the deconstructed version was a letdown. There was way too much cinnamon apple filling and the puff pastry is better described as thin crispy wafers than pastry. Good luck trying to spoon any of the compote or ice cream onto the thick spoon provided. The dessert was disappointing and messy.

Go for the millionaire’s tart ($12) instead. Indeed, it’s a rich dessert given it’s constructed with chocolate ganache, caramel, and hazelnut ice cream. But, the ganache is made with dark chocolate so the sugariness of the tart is restrained. It was lusciously flavourful and left my taste buds feeling like a million bucks.

In general, CRU’s dishes are packed with flavours. Each element on the plate holds its own and together packs a powerful punch. It’s certainly a change from the safe fare at LBS. CRU food is here to make a statement.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 100 Yonge Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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