Restaurant Review: The Cru at the Quarter

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CRU WINE BAR AND RESTAURANT, Cape Quarter Extension., Tel: ,021,418,6293,,,,,,,,

,I’m a dedicated follower of fashion, so I checked out the new Cape Quarter, Cape Town’s new shopping mall. Of course, Gautengers would laugh after seeing this little place after all the hype. But then again, Capetonians have not been all that good at the mall concept as a fleeting visit to Cavendish Drol and N1 Pity will show.

The Cape Quarter Extension is a teeny mix of quaint little shops selling highly popular items such as hand-painted diaries, paintings of American cars and ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ I kid you not ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ vibrating massagers for cats. On the more decent side, ice-cream and delis are to be found. There is also a Spar and Woolworths, just to maintain a semblance of accessibility for the normal person, and a lot of the spaces are still boarded.

But hey, this Quarter claims to be the happening place for Soccer 2010 as it is situated on the pedestrian strips where, come June 11, thousands of supporters will pass en route to Cape Town Stadium.

I met Quintus Chagal for lunch in the Quarter, as the local hacks had spoken of a few good eateries in the joint. There was a place called Vanilla, but this looked far too gay ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ even for Quintus, and that says a lot.

So we went to Cru Restaurant and Wine Bar situated on the Quarter’s main square which provides one with stunning views of the other restaurant, a small tree and something that may be an attempt at a water feature.

Cru had a huge crew ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ more waiters than customers, all smartly decked out in white shirts, bow-ties and waist-coats. The gleaming black faces and white smiles gave the place a pleasant, comforting colonial feel, despite the attempts at being modern French.

In any event, I kicked off with a Mojito, and I knew I was going to like it here. The chap that made the Mojito was very liberal with the rum, and after three sips I was feeling mellow enough to realise that the water feature was actually a modern fountain.

Quintus was obviously trying to impress somebody as he ordered a bottle of Champagne. “Make sure it is pink, and make sure it is French,” he told the wine-steward in a tone befitting his status as wine boffin, albeit of the type that resides in the Cape Town suburb of Bellville.

As the steward walked off, our service ambassador came to introduce himself. He had a smart badge fixed to his waist-coat which identified him as Apprentice Waiter.

He informed us that there were no specials but that everything on the menu was “nice”.

The menu was far shorter than the wine-list, which made thing easy. Starters included carpaccio, mussels and terrine. The salads looked good, too. Mains were fillet, pasta with meat-balls, fish, Northern Cape lamb and a chicken dish.

Sipping on the French pink stuff, Quintus told Apprentice he’d like some carpaccio to start, while I went for the terrine. We were also presented with some deliciously cheesy bread sticks, which complemented the chilled Champagne.

The carpaccio was good and raw. My terrine was substantial and gamey, which ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Apprentice told me ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ could be attributed to the ostrich.

My terrine was served with hunks of yellow bread, which was very fresh. I must chat to the baker. He knows his chops, this baker does.

Polishing of the Champagne, Quintus asked for the wine-list which had a bit of everything. We decided on Sauvignon Blanc, so Quintus went for the Crios Bride Sauvignon Blanc 2008. This wine is made in Darling to an adventurous oxidative style. It is like a sumo wrestler: big, yellow and fat. A huge nose of asparagus gives way to flavours of tin, oyster-shell and grape-fruit peel. I loved it.

For mains, Quintus took the tuna which as served ?+¦???+¦?+¦-ú?-í la nicoise. This meant a slab of rawish tuna with some runny boiled egg and a couple of anchovies. My stomach began to rumble just by looking at the dish, and I hoped Quintus had a stable constitution as neither of us knew where the shit-house was.

I ordered a flattened chicken breast wrapped in Serrano ham. This I got. But despite having repeatedly asked Apprentice for French fries instead of mash potato, I was served with the latter.

No real effort had been made to cook the chicken with some of its juices in-tact, which in retrospection made the mash a good companion. The Serrano was crispy and good, and delicious with the Crios Bride.

Quintus gamely attacked his tuna-egg-anchovy thing, and seemed to enjoy it, although with these arty types one can never tell.

You can do two courses for under R150 a head, which is not half bad for an average meal, made better by some good wine and a view of a funny fountain.

JP Bruwer

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