Sofia Echo

Restaurant review

Cru Green Food Salon

Author: Magdalena Rahn Date: Fri, Feb 27 2009 1 Comment, 7542 Views
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An oasis of calm. Walking into Cru takes one to New York City, where unique little restaurants dot busy streets, havens of peace, atmospheres of elsewhere.

The façade is unassuming, yet welcoming – soft grey with large windows, a restored door framed by decorative grasses. Cru. It means "raw" in French, a concept further expanded by the words under the name: Green Food Salon, and further explained when it becomes clear that the co-owner, Patricia, is from Quebec, in Bulgaria for eight years and speaking Bulgarian almost better than English now – so she jokes.

Magazines cosy up in a wicker basket, one or two find home on a coffee table. Jazz, blues and funk glide from the speakers. Though the interior is small, the space is cunningly used, allowing areas for both dining and sipping something warm. Or invigorating.

A good portion of Cru’s menu is fresh-squeezed juices – and not just orange or grapefruit, but mixes like Green & Cru (broccoli, apple and parslaey, smooth and sweet in the mouth, with notes only of life and health) or Orange & Cru (carrot, apple and ginger, mild and soft, with a very slight zing) or Red & Cru (with beetroot). Though the ingredients could sound like bad childhood memories, there is nothing in the taste that would support such a conjecture, instead the juices providing a refreshing treat. (Prices range from about two to six leva, depending on the size.)

A blackboard on the back wall – next to a wide mirror reflecting the street and its agitation – shows the menu of the day, which does change daily. A salad or two and a soup, a few main dishes and a sandwich option, plus a couple of desserts, are available individually, or ordered as combinations: soup + salad, salad + sandwich and so on.

One time, I ordered the tower of mashed organic kidney beans (about nine leva), lightly spiced with cumin and served like an island in a sea of mixed fresh greens. A sweet red pepper aioli added to its simple sophistication. Another evening, we chose to share the hoummous with bread crisps, and found it unctuously smooth, yet light on the palate, good enough to just eat plain and thankfully without any overpowering garlic. It went well with the avgolemono (Greek lemon-egg soup, about four leva) that was being served that night, and my order of sautéed tofu with steamed fresh vegetables (9.80 leva), which came charmingly served en papillote and daintily decorated with an orange sauce. A green Thai curry with chicken was also on the menu that evening.

On other visits, there are items like smoked salmon sandwich (7.80 leva) or various dishes using quinoa – in casseroles, in croquettes... One time, it was made into a sumptuous fruited pudding dessert.

About the desserts – I was recently quite impressed with the almost gooey peanut butter cookie (three leva), in which what, at first, appeared to be chunks of chocolate turned out to be molasses-y gobs of brown sugar. Yum. Coming from a household that prided itself on its homemade cookies, I can say that it was a laudable example of baking.

The fixed menu has the tofu-vegetable papillote, along with steamed chicken or  fish options (the chicken comes perfectly cooked, succulent and tender, seasoned with thyme), some soba-noodle bowls, and other fresh, tasty items, like yoghurt with homemade granola. I’ve heard that the granola is fabulous...

Where possible, ingredients are organic. This also applies to the wines – Bonterra, from California, and another brand – which are available by the glass or by the bottle.
And to not forget the chef. Jun Yoshida, formerly of Brasserie, was behind the creation of Cru, which opened at the very beginning of January 2009. It is said that he wanted somewhere where he could experiment a bit while serving up delicious, healthy food.

Success.






Overall 4/6
Service 4/6
Atmosphere 4/6
Food 4/6
Price $$
($ up to 12 leva a person for three courses; $$ 12 to 20 leva pp; $$$ 20 to 35 pp; $$$$ 35 and over pp)


Address:
[[map:45 Tsar Assen Str, Sofia|45 Tsar Asen Str, Sofia|]]
Tel: 088/ 920 09 48
Open: Mon to Fri 9am to 10pm (kitchen), Sat and Sun 10.30am to 10pm (kitchen)
Credit cards: not yet

  • Tea House
    • Anonymous
      Michael Denham Rating:
      neutral
      #1 15, 30, Tue, Jan 26 2010

      Tried this place for lunch today. It has a nice friendly and welcoming atmosphere. However the food was definitely poor value for the money. From the today's specials menu we took a beetroot and carrot salad with apples and walnuts and honey vinaigrette dressing which was very tasty (~9 leva) but the red lentil stew for 15 leva and the tuna and salad wrap for 12.50 leva just were not worth the money. The lentils, just a simple dal with pitta bread, was very basic and should not have been priced at more than 10 leva. Similarly I can buy [...]

      Read the full comment in France or the UK a far better tuna wrap (more tuna, tastier salad)for the equivalent of 10 leva. So not such a great eating experience, especially by Sofia standards of high quality for reasonable prices

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