House of the Cross

2012.Aug.09 Thursday · 2 comments

in Restaurants

I have no idea why I’ve not been to this place before. The chef, someone I know, has two other restaurants in town, both of which I’ve been to, and reviewed. But for some reason, until this week, other than once for a cocktail with a visiting friend from New York, I hadn’t set foot in Casa Cruz, Uriarte 1658, Palermo, 4833-1112. Now I have and likely will again. [Note: in late 2013 the place was sold to new owners, the folk behind Aldo’s, in Monserrat, and converted to a high-end parrilla. I haven’t been in to try it. But, that basically means, ignore everything that follows.]

CasaCruz

The room is beautiful. You can see it in the photo. Elegant and sophisticated, beautifully appointed – I’d not seen it on my visit to the bar as there’s a heavy curtain separating the dining room from the bar area (I don’t know if that will continue, they’re shortly going to be remodeling the space to create a larger lounge area), which also keeps street and bar noise to a minimum.

CasaCruz - sidecar

I ordered a drink at the bar and had it brought to the table. They specialize in classic cocktails of yesteryear, and I haven’t had a Sidecar in many, many years. This one, well made, perhaps a touch sweeter than I would have preferred, but good. Selection of breads – the focaccia was killer, the other two, quite good.

The sommelier, a friend, came over and we chatted about the menu – while CasaCruz doesn’t offer a tasting menu, he offered to check with the kitchen and see if they’d be willing to do a couple of appetizers in smaller portions so I could try more things (I was solo for the eve). They agreed (though in the end, they didn’t really, other than one course), and he offered to bring some interesting wine pairings along with the dishes. I selected a couple of things that looked especially appetizing and left the rest up to them. I would note, particularly for visitors, that some of the English translation (the menu has side by side English and Spanish) is a bit bizarre, and not always accurate.

CasaCruz - sous vide octopus

Warm sous vide octopus salad with cubes of green mango, shavings of fennel, some “chorizo oil” and radish sprouts. Delicious! Great combination of flavors, and paired perfectly with a glass of Rutini Gewurztraminer.

CasaCruz - oyster

This is the only plate the kitchen ended up reducing in size I think – instead of five oysters, a single one, lightly poached, with truffled bread crumbs, green apple, and fresh trout eggs. Good – I thought the oyster got a little lost with all the other flavors, but as a combination it did work. Saint Felicien Chardonnay to accompany, worked really well with the various garnishes in particular.

CasaCruz - veal tartare

A veal tartare – excellent, really, excellent. To be honest, I don’t recall what else was on the plate. I do remember loving it.

CasaCruz - provolone souflle

Perfectly cooked provolone souffle hiding a layer of red onions cooked in cassis. Maybe the wrong spot in the progression of dishes for this – good as it was, the three preceding courses were so creative and had so many different flavors going on that this seemed a bit one dimensional – might have been better as the second course. A glass of Trapiche’s Ciento Viente Años, a Malbec, Cabernet and Merlot blend for this and the main course.

CasaCruz - venison

I can’t remember the last time I had venison. Well, actually, thank goodness I have a blog, I can tell you it was March of last year at the short-lived eXperimental. But that was raw venison as a tartare. Hmmm… cooked, the last time, apparently, August 2009 at Divina Patagonia. Here, cooked a perfect medium rare and accompanied by a brie foam, a small bread pudding (could have used a touch more seasoning), and poached pears. Really creative, excellent dish.

No dessert for me – I’d had quite enough food thank you. And besides, the young man (of extraordinary height – had to be close to 7′ tall) constantly typing away on his phone at the next table over and bursting out with little exclamations as he got whatever responses he got, was getting on my nerves. What can I say, I’m funny that way. Put the phone away and enjoy your dinner.

So, the windup – love the space, love the food, love the service – some of the best I’ve experienced in BA, and, it wasn’t just that the sommelier knew me – everyone (admittedly only about 20 people in the restaurant) was being attended to really well. Overall, Highly Recommended. And, to be honest, though perhaps it’s a touch less cutting edge creative than the chef’s current flagship restaurant, Tegui, I’d be more likely to return to CasaCruz – the prices, while high, are gentler on the wallet (appetizers run about 80-90 pesos, main courses around 110-120), and there’s just something about it that I like more (particularly the service).

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