Cru54 is a newly opened restaurant in Surry Hills. I thought it was a breath of fresh air in a stylish modern space. It's a contemporary Spanish restaurant which shows strong French influence in its small but inspiring menu; supplemented by a list of changing specials.
The rather attractive fit-out was done by owner Catherine Andreo-Tuma, a multi-talented lady who also helped design the menu, and chose the wines on offer. It's a comfortable setting, with a marble bar that is lit from underneath with yellow lights. The floor is composite concrete, the tables and chairs are white, but a long fabric banquette adds some warm tones, as do orange candles. A sexy pressed tin wall, and a modern metallic chandelier complete the look.
You can choose to dine at tables, at the bar (solo diners especially will feel welcome here) or in a small private dining room that seats 8-10, and has racks of wine on the walls. When you first sit down, a complimentary plate of almonds eases your hunger while you peruse the small menu, and slightly larger wine list.
I loved the boldly unadorned plate of Jamon Iberico ($20) – excellent produce presented (as it should be) without frills.
It was of course complimented by a serve of grassy fresh Dauro Spanish Olive Oil ($5) served with Sonoma bread.
The Jamon Croquettes with Romesco Dip ($11/sm, $17/lg) were nice but not outstanding - my photo shows a small serve.
Chef Vincent Girardin shows off his talent with the Calamari ($13/sm, $19/lg) cooked to perfection (he knows when to stop) and texturally matched with a squid ink crumble, a zesty aioli and a wedge of lemon – combine all elements for a sublime moment. Again my photo shows a small serve.
Good produce makes the Prawn Trilogy ($18) a pleasure, it's more a dish for one than an easy sharing option. From right to left, you see a coconut prawn with lime and chilli jam (underneath it); a prawn beignet with marinated watermelon; and a grilled prawn with mango and avocado salsa.
The Solomillo con foie gras ($21), was a piece of eye fillet topped with foie gras, and it impressed as well. It was so rich, I was glad to be sharing. The eye fillet was cooked reasonably rare, but I enjoyed it anyway, liking letting the chef decide - however if you wish it cooked differently, they will oblige without a frown.
They also do a Selection of Cheeses ($18/sm, $23/lg) of which we sampled just a single cheese - the aged Manchego a sheep milk cheese from Spain which was nicely nutty, creamy and sharp.
Though I forgot to photograph it, the dessert of Burnt Valencia Orange with Leche Meringada Ice-cream and crunchy Turron sprinkle ($10) is so good you may not want to share. On a return visit, I certainly wont! The ice-cream was amazing - meringue flavoured!
The staff are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I allowed myself to be guided in wine matching and enjoyed the results, especially the jammy 2006 Cillar di Silos Tempranillo ($13/glass, $65/bottle). All up, a great place to try contemporary Spanish food.
1/54 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9281 1054