Crù Food & Wine Bar
5188 Marathon Av, FW. 817-737-9463. 4-10pm Sun-Thu, 4-11 pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Crù Food & Wine Bar’s new Fort Worth location (the fourth in Texas for the national chain) sits with elegance in the Shops at Clearfork, an area loaded with “if-you-have-to-ask, you-can’t-afford-it” retailers. The sleek new eatery with 14 tables and a bar is a wine connoisseur’s dream, and much of the food is spectacular.
The menu tilts heavily toward tapas and appetizers. My table of three made our wine choices first –– pick from flights of three two-ounce samples organized by grape and served with neat note cards of tasting descriptors. My selection, Spanish spice threesome, included an earthy Spanish Ysios Reserva rioja with “hints of plum, coffee, and forest floor.” My guest’s pinot noir was soft, fruity, and drinkable, with nary a hint of forest floor.
A cheese board seemed like a natural pairing with our wine. Chef’s Board offered a sheep’s and cow’s milk testun (infused with grape seeds, skin, and stems –– even the cheese is made of wine here), a sheep’s milk pecorino that was sharper than a steak knife, and an aggressive Cacharel blue cheese. The cheeses were accompanied by thinly sliced apples and pears and a piquant fig preserve that cut the bite of the pecorino and soothed the blue cheese into submission. The plate was big enough to feed one person comfortably. With three diners, everyone got a tiny taste of each cheese and eventually resorted to nibbling the excess flatbread crackers smeared with the fig preserves.
Five dainty pot stickers brimming with lobster and shrimp floated in tangy citrus sauce, topped by slivers of Fresno peppers. The sweet-sour sauce accented the shellfish beautifully, and the shaved Fresnos added a kick. A surprisingly generous amount of lobster and shrimp was stuffed inside each dumpling. By comparison, the Brussels sprouts salad was bland, despite gobs of fresh parmesan cheese and a coating of tart balsamic reduction in the mix.
If the appetizers were uneven, the entrees were a Swiss watch. The perfectly pan-seared scallops were a luscious treat. Four large translucent bivalves sat atop a hillock of creamy, cheesy risotto spiked with spinach and butternut squash. Surprisingly, the rich rice didn’t overpower the delicate flavor of the scallops.
Just as good was the herb-crusted branzino –– the white fish was buttery soft, with a subtle crunch courtesy of the herbs and panko crust. The fish was plated atop a farm’s worth of Brussels sprouts and cubed squash –– the al dente sprouts and soft squash were a nice counterpoint of bitter and sweet.
Steak pizza arrived with a full-on salad of arugula and mixed greens atop a generous portion of medium-rare steak slices. The greens, lightly dressed in balsamic vinegar, provided a crunchy, clean balance to the richness of the meat. Unfortunately, the crust was fairly spicy (and not disclaimed as such on the menu). Also unfortunately, the pie was a knife-and-fork mess and not that easy to eat.
As lovely as Crù is, I couldn’t help but think about wine bars that have come and gone, including Zambrano Wine Cellar, Magnolia Cheese Co., and the exquisite Times Ten Cellar, which closes on January 28. Perhaps it’s about location –– none of the aforementioned places had extensive parking options. Maybe it’s about corporate bankrolling. But that might just be sour grapes.
Crù Food & Wine Bar
Wine flights $14-16
Chef’s pick artisan cheese board $16
Lobster & shrimp pot stickers $13
Brussels sprouts salad $11
Steak pizza $16
Cast-iron seared scallops $26
Herb-crusted branzino $23