August 29, 2009

Vegan or Not...Here I Come!!! Cru in Silverlake

I had the pleasure of dining with LA OC Foodie, Sam Kim, ToastyMuffin, estarla and SquashBlossom Friday night at Cru, a vegan/raw restaurant in Silver Lake. This was my first intentional vegan meal, and I was pretty excited. What can I say, new adventures excite me!!

So Cru it was. The menu was intriguing. . .pizza, pasta, pad thai, chocolate cake….HUH? I thought this was RAW VEGAN. Then the obvious next question was – what exactly do they consider “pasta” and “pizza”. Well, we were about to find out. . .

First things first, a beverage on this sweltering day. The choice was easy for me, ginger lime aid please! And it was just what the doctor ordered, tangy, just a touch of sugar, and tiny pieces of ginger.

Next we ordered the Mezze Platter - This consisted of Tunisian beet and apple salad, cucumber tzatziki salad, marinated garlicky kale, fig paté, cashew cheese and flax/pumpkin crackers. The kale was tasty. It had a nice garlic essence, but it the end it was just raw kale, basically just dressed lettuce. The cashew cheese with the flax crackers was very good as well (for pseudo-cheese). Having been seriously disappointed by soy cheese in the past, I am still perplexed as to how they made vegan cheese so tasty. This cheese actually inspired me to later order the ravioli as an entree. With tzatziki being one of my absolute favorite sauces, the cucumber txatziki salad just didn't meet my high expectations (not enough garlic or white pepper in my opinion). The fig paté tasted like dessert, a fig newton minus the cookie, it would have been very good with some goat cheese (oh yeah, we're at a vegan restaurant, shoot!).

The next appetizer we had was the Dream Roll - kim chee, avocado, shiitake mushrooms, jicama rice and hijiki in a collard leaf served with tamari dipping sauce. The roll had a nice texture, fresh and crunchy. The tangy and sweet tamari dipping sauce was a nice accompaniment to all the fresh veggies.

On to the main course. I went with the Shiitake Mushroom Ravioli - this consisted of seven cashew cheese in a thinly sliced vegetable wrapper (maybe jicima or celery root?) in a sweet miso cream sauce topped with marinated shiitake mushrooms. The dish was average. There was a little too much cashew cheese for my taste, I felt like I was just taking big spoonfuls of cashew cheese - which had the benefit of filling me up, but the side-effect of a sever overdose of psuedo-cheese. Some of the other dishes that were ordered included Pad Thai made with kelp noodles, shredded cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, and sprouts in a chili almond sauce; Vegetable Linguine (carrot and zucchini noodles) in a Pepper Cream Sauce; the Mushroom Quinoa Risotto with shiitake mushrooms and spinach with a fig reduction; and the Sweet Pesto Wrap, made with pesto, cashew cheese, cucumber, cabbage, sweet onions and sprouts.

All the entrees were very flavorful and most of all, intriguing. My favorite raw entree was the Pad Thai, simply because of the texture of the kelp noodles, and the overall composition of the dish. The best dish overall in terms of flavor was the quinoa risotto. I make quinoa on a fairly regular basis (as a salad, it makes a great boxed lunch for work), and this quinoa was perfectly cooked and just bursting with flavor.

On to my favorite part of the night -- dessert! We decided to go with the chocolate truffle cake, the mint ganache cake and the lime cheesecake. All raw vegan desserts. My favorite was the "cheesecake". At first, it tasted like undercooked and melted cheesecake, but after a couple of bites, it really was pretty good. However, I cant say that I enjoyed or was fulfilled by either of the chocolate desserts. The chocolate cakes had a very hard consistency and were far too rich. They simply tasted like hard chocolate ganache. They were lacking a flavor and texture contrast which would have toned down the rich chocolate. A raspberry coulis or soy ice cream would have done the trick. It just needed something else to mellow out the incredibly rich and overpowering "chocolatiness" of the dish.

By parting thoughts? I will not be turning raw or vegan anytime soon - I am a carnivore through and through. However, for those days when I am racking my brain for another good salad place, or when I just went something light and fresh, a vegan meal just may be the answer.

1 comment:

  1. glad you were able to join me and others on this foodventure! My favorite of the sweets, surprisingly, was the unchocolatey cheesecake too -- the two truffle cakes weren't bad, just WAY dense and deep (can have only a few forkfuls at a time.)