Dining Review: Crü
A first-rate dining experience climaxes with treats like Chocolate Four Way and Key lime pie.
Key lime pie at Crü in Fort Myers.
Photography by Vanessa Rogers
Used to be the only food you found at the mall was an Auntie Anne’s pretzel and a drink from Orange Julius. That’s all changed. Two of the world’s best restaurants, Per Se and Masa, are in New York’s Shops at Columbus Circle. Back here, though Crü’s chef/owners Harold Balink and Bob Boye aren’t likely to be mentioned in the same breath as Thomas Kellar and Masayoshi Takayama any time soon, they have managed to create a delightful, vibrant restaurant in a mall setting at Fort Myers’ Bell Tower Shops.
When we arrived on a seemingly average weekday night, Crü was completely packed everywhere: in its lively lounge area, bustling outdoor bar and dark, noisy dining room. There is no question the restaurant has attracted a loyal following, which we found mostly deserving.
I can attest to the tasty tapas and cocktails from a previous evening, but this was our first visit for dinner. We began with martinis (all $10.75). My Flyin’ Hawaiian was a fruity blend of Van Gogh Pineapple Vodka and orange juice, and my husband’s Vodka Martini (Ketel One Vodka, dry vermouth and olives) was so pleasant he had a second.
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It was with great anticipation that we chose one of our favorite gourmet indulgences—foie gras. While the foie gras appetizer ($19), accompanied by crisp toasts, sautéed mushrooms, pistachios and black cherry, itself was seared perfectly on the outside and still rare in the middle, it was swimming in a thin, bland brown sauce that should have been a rich, savory reduction. Still, our choice of a glass of Chateaux La Fleur D’Or sauterne ($12) was a perfect accompaniment.
The salads also elicited mixed reviews. The kale Caesar ($9) was a delicious blend of crisp kale, savory Caesar dressing and smoky bacon (we chose to forgo the cashews). However, the spinach-gorgonzola with mushrooms ($10) was too light on the cheese and the greens were not sufficiently dressed, making it somewhat tasteless.
Alaskan halibut with forbidden rice and tomatoes.
My husband’s choice of entree—a nice-size, mouthwatering Niman Ranch bone-in filet special ($55), which arrived medium-rare as requested—was attractively plated with creamy Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and shaved asparagus and carrots. But my medium-rare grilled salmon ($29), nestled on a tasty bed of savory shitake-crab “stuffing” and accompanied by grilled asparagus, was disappointing in both texture (compressed, not flaky) and flavor.
Because we opted for martinis, we chose not to have wine with our entrees. But we were dazzled by Crü’s wine list of 21 wines by the glass, plus an impressive inventory of varietals ranging in price from $30 to $90 a bottle.
We certainly saved the best for last with our choice of desserts. The beautifully presented Chocolate Four Way ($11)—flourless dark chocolate cake, milk chocolate mousse, dark chocolate truffles and sorbetto—was pure, unadulterated decadence. And the Key lime pie with whipped cream ($7) was delightfully smooth, tart and topped with a pretty, shell-shaped Key lime truffle.
Having sampled a full-fledged dinner and tapas/drinks on a previous occasion, it is safe to say that Crü ranks among Fort Myers’ better culinary offerings, even with the miscues. It’s certainly reason enough to go to the mall, even if you have nothing on your shopping list.
13499 S. Cleveland Ave., Suite 241, Fort Myers; (239) 466-3663, eatcru.com
Open for lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; dinner, 5:30-11 p.m. Friday through Saturday and 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.
Wheelchair accessible. Accepts reservations.