Sunday, September 7, 2008

Finally, something else besides politics! Unless Crop Bistro is secretly a west coast den of secession?

I went to dinner last at Crop Bistro on W.6th. I can't believe I hadn't heard of this place before. If you go to the website, it looks like they certainly got enough reviews, I guess I just missed the ball here. So kudos to Sean for finding it.

The atmosphere is definitely sports jacket oriented, with these large sheaves of wheat chandeliers and a lot of blown-up prints of various plant matter. Up by the dark wood island of a bar, there were groups of those kind of girls who look up the products in the back of Cosmo and buy them, sort of Sex in the City in training, but my age? Girls like that have this curious quality of looking extremely uncomfortable wherever they are, even when dressed to the nines. The guys were all the slightly older, graying, navy v neck sweater/really nice shoes type. It was a little loud, but it was Saturday night.

The service was really friendly, and the drinks were well thought out. I had their PB&B; peaches, basil, peach stoli, and rose champagne. Sean had the Bloody Crop martini, which was just a dressed down Bloody Mary; pepper vodka, cilantro, sea salt, tomato. They started us with a little basket of cornbread fingers, which were good, but had to be eaten right away while warm or they tasted a little too thick. For appetizers we had the foie gras with stone fruit, and the stuffed figs with gorgonzola, prosciutto, and walnuts. I ate just a bit of the foie gras, it was of course rich but without a lot of flavor. I haven't spent my life munching on the stuff, so I don't know if that's what it supposed to taste like, but he liked it. The figs were sweet and moist, I probably should have mixed the two of them together. Figs and foie gras? I think it would work.

The menu is pretty simple. He had the chicken fried duck with cheddar grits and black bean sauce. It tasted like the princess of country fried steak. I had hangar steak with a tomato and bleu cheese salad that was juicy, sweet, and tart. It also came with something called a "home fry pie" which was mehh. It was a little too crunchy on the outside, I had to attack it with my fork and try not to scatter the shards, which is not what you necessarily want to do while sipping an eleven dollar drink. The steak was great, tender and satisfyingly salty. But the real star of the evening was discovered when we took just a quick look at the dessert menu.

First of all, I didn't really want dessert, so I just scanned the thing and barely read it. However four words jumped right out at me...mentholated habanero ice cream.
I had to have it. I didn't even care for the rest of the plate it came with (flourless chocolate cake, mango lime coulis), but asked the waiter if we could please just have a scoop of that. I think next time I'll try the whole thing. Or maybe I'll get a bunch of you together and we can order the whole dessert menu, I read it in detail on the website. It sounds amazing.

But going back to this ice cream: it was fantastic. The menthol feeling hit you as soon as the coldness disappeared, and reached as far down your throat as it could. Just when you were starting to relax, the heat came rushing in its path, as if the menthol was just the small advance guard, and here was the real point, that you were going to need to sip some water so help it you were.

We raved about it so enthusiastically, the waiter (who seemed a little in love with it himself) actually sent the pastry chef up to say hi. Olena Gudz, she's the super cute little dark haired girl who seriously knows her ice cream. I guess she started at Lola's, and then here, and also maybe runs triathlons? I couldn't really think of anything to say to her, other than "oh my god, so good", and she probably was a little pinked at the waiter for wasting her time, but I don't know what you're supposed to say to chefs other than "you're incredible" and make googly eyes. Olena should start up her own sweets shop, and then I should move next door to it.

So in conclusion, great food, but also lets start going there for just dessert and drinks. They have a late night menu till 12:45am on Fridays and Saturdays, and a lunch menu which looks perfect as a stop in an all day bender (lamb sliders? Cubans?). And look for the server with the emo hair and glasses, cause he'll get you excited about what you're ordering, which is absolutely the cherry on top.

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