Crush, the new enterprise by Christopher Daniel's Daniel Chaustit, opened yesterday at Belvedere Square, in the old Hess shoes building recently occupied by Taste. As Mr Minx and I were in the neighborhood at dinner time, we decided to stop in and see what it was about. The menu, with its variety of fare both refined and casual, pleased us, so we requested a table.
It was nice to see that they didn't waste time or money redecorating the space. The red walls, striped banquettes, and odd rope-and-ladder decor was the only thing I liked about Taste. I heard that the reason that restaurant didn't succeed was that the neighborhood wasn't supportive. Mr Minx and I tried to support the place, but apart from our initial experience there, we found the food too ordinary for the price. I can make faux Tex-Mex chicken at home, thanks, for less money and with better flavors.
Everything on Crush's menu looked good, and the prices were reasonable. Mr Minx was itching to try the risotto appetizer, but didn't want to eat both that and the hamburger he was also eyeing, so I suggested we share the rice. I loved the combination of al dente rice with the similarly shaped but more crunchy toasted pine nuts. The tiny tomatoes in it gave it a bit of acid, and the shrimp had a nice grill flavor. It was garnished with microgreens, some of which tasted a bit like celery. Was it lovage? In any case, we enjoyed it.
Mr Minx went for the burger, 8oz of nicely fatty meat served with his choice of cheese and bacon for $10. It also came with a generous pile of shoestring fries and mild, mayonnaise-y cole slaw. The burger was properly cooked and had a good, unadorned, meaty flavor. I think Crush could become our new default burger joint.
I had dental work earlier in the day and worried about eating anything too chewy, so I passed on the tempting NY strip with asparagus and truffle fries and opted for the salmon sandwich, served BLT style with wasabi aioli. It also came with a mound of fries and slaw. The salmon was meltingly tender, and the mayo was as good on the fries as the fish. Mr Minx also borrowed some for his burger. My only complaint about the sandwiches is that they were served on Kaiser rolls, a bad idea because they always fall apart when in contact with hot, moist, food. Toasting them was a nice touch though.
Since we were going for the gusto, we had dessert. I ordered the cookies and IBC rootbeer float and received one each peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia, and toffee brickle cookie. They all had nice homemade flavor, but I sadly had to give away the toffee cookie to Mr Minx to save my dental work from the stickiness. He had the warm pineapple upside down cake, which came in a cute little single serving. It was delicious and made me think of my Mom, who loved the stuff.
We washed everything down with a DR Loosen 2007 Riesling, one of our favorites.
Our first experience at Crush, especially considering that it was opening night, was excellent. We loved the food and the service was impeccable. We hope to make this a regular haunt, and encourage those of you in our area to do the same. Support Crush!
Minx... glad to hear that the new iteration of that space is an improvement. I thought that they might have kept the interior the same as the opening was pretty soon after Taste closed down.
I live in this community and the reason taste failed was due to poor food and even worse service. We could not be more excited to have Crush in their old space!
Would you say the ambiance was a neighborhood casual kind of place like Petit Louis, or was it aiming to be uppity and snooty like Taste was?
You had me at "Mr. Minx went for the burger..."
Adina - hard to say yet. There weren't enough people around where we were sitting for me to get a sense of a real vibe yet, to gauge interactions with staff. We were at the back of the restaurant and it was very quiet. However, the bar was full when we left, and people seemed to be having a good time.
The nice selection of sandwiches and casual fare leads me to believe that Chaustit is *not* going for snooty. I'm thinking it's going to be somewhat like Petit Louis, which does have a slightly formal air but is still fun and a great all-around place.
I don't have a lot of money to play with these days (spent it all at the Zodiac before they shut down). This is in walking distance from me so I'll have to at least check out that dessert.
I am just SO happy to hear that you had a good experience. I felt the same way about Taste - cool design, expensive food that I could make (better) at home. Plus, I never had great service there.
But to hear that you had a good meal, and on opening night, no less. Encouraging!
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