CRÚ Food & Wine Bar
2800 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77098
Well, this will be my fourth review and last visit for Houston Restaurant Weeks 2015. Truth be told, I visited a couple of other HRW participants with less than satisfactory experiences, and decided not to blast them on my oh-so-popular blogspace. I like to keep things positive around here, ok? I’ve decided to only post reviews of places to which I would return. Now you know.
Last up, and again, not venturing out too far from my neck of the woods, is CRÚ in River Oaks. I had heard good things about this place, specifically their happy hour, but went for a late night HRW dinner on their patio (on a particularly cool-for-Houston evening).
Being late on a week night, I got a front row, $2/hour spot in the West Ave metered parking right outside the restaurant. There is self parking in a garage in the back, or you can pay $7 for the valet (in front of Tootsies). The patio was dark, so I walked inside to weigh my seating options. The decor is classy and comfortable and the place is beautifully lit. The twinkling candle light on the shelves of the wall full of wine bottles is especially romantic. Most tables are set for four with linens and silverware, but CRÚ caters to the happy hour crowd with their large bar top, bar tables, and cushy seating for lounging around a low coffee table. I decided on the patio, because I have a thing for them.
I also have a thing for wine bars because… wine flights! Three 2 ounce pours of like wines to sample? Perfect for indecisive winos with commitment issues. I chose the “Really Cool Cab & Cab Blends” flight partly because I like cabs and partly because one of the pours was a 2007 “Cardinals Peak” that I would not normally order at $27/glass. Fancy. Another perk of a wine flight is the tasting notes offered with the wines. Having notes of prominent flavors really helps even the most practiced wine enthusiasts pull out the elements of the wine as you sip.
For my first course, I chose a simple house salad, hold the allergy-inducing cheese. It was dressed well and the pine nuts gave it a little flair. And I always appreciate pre-cut cherry tomatoes so they’re not flying off my plate when I try to cut them. CRÚ’s regular menu is filled with small bites a lot more exciting than a salad. They have several vegetarian options and lots of cheese, seafood, and pizza, perfect for snacking and sharing several plates to please everyone.
The Cedar Plank Scottish Salmon was enjoyable. Obviously cooked and served on a (slightly wobbly) cedar plank. The skin was removed leaving the bottom of a fish a little crispy which I loved. The basil citrus glaze was more of a jelly consistency than a glaze. Perhaps my late night dinner left me with the remains of the pre-made glaze left in the bottom of the food pan? I just love basil on my salmon, so I enjoyed it nonetheless. The full menu has several tempting options. Next time I might try the 6 ounce filet with raspberry chianti sauce or the Barolo braised short ribs with wild mushroom jus.
While there is an option for chocolate lava cake on CRÚ’s HRW menu (which would be a no-brainer if I could eat it without feeling awful from the gluten-y ingredients), I decided to go with the lemon curd tart. It was a little less curdy and little more floury than I thought it would be and without a bite of strawberry, the tart fell flat on flavor. But I did enjoy the slight flavor of pistachio in the crust. In fact, I will definitely try it in one of my next tart recipes. A recurring theme in my HRW experiences has been the lack of excitement about the desserts I’ve tried. Hmm, a Last Course Gourmet business opportunity, perhaps? I’ll let you know.
Next time I visit CRÚ, it will be for their happy hour for their small bites under $5 and $3 off wine and wine flights. (Check out their website for other specials and events, including free pizza!) Even with my love of patios, I’ll probably check out the inside scene to avoid smokers and Del Frisco’s competing patio tunes (though the small patio does seem to be dog friendly which is a perk if you have a pup to bring).
Monday – Wednesday
4:00 – 11:00
Thursday – Friday
4:00 – Midnight
2:00 – Midnight
2:00 – 11:00
Monday – Friday
4:00 – 6:30