My parents have been eating at The Crossing for years, but I had never been before this Saturday. I was always afraid it was going to fall into the same category as former restaurants Zinnia's and Chez Leon. Dark and outdated with old man waiters who had gotten too fat to fit in their overly formal outfits. I have no idea why I thought that, but I learned Friday that I was pretty off-target with my assumption. Assuming makes an ass out of 'u' and me, but in this case it was mostly just me. The restaurant is small, but that adds to its charm. It's got so much wine in it that they actually use it as dividers between the upper and lower section, which means The Crossing would be awesome to be stuck in during a snowstorm or zombie apocalypse. Maybe the smartest part of having such an ample wine selection is that all the art on the walls is for sale. You'll be there on a date with a pretty girl, wining and dining her, but then you'll have a bit too much to drink and the male bravado will kick in. Next thing you know, you'll wake up at home alone, hungover and the proud new owner of a $1,500 painting.
There's an a la carte section of the menu, but the tasting menu is a much better deal and is recommended by the chef. There are two main tasting menus: The Crossing Tasting Menu($32.00) and The Premium Tasting Menu ($45.00). Each comes with your choice of a first course, second course, entree and dessert. For $20/30 more, you can add a wine flight. If you're too lazy to make a decision on your own, you can opt for the Chef's Grand Tasting Menu($85.00).
As we debated about what to order, a plate of goodies was brought to our table. Tiny slices of toast with a hot, rich, caramelized Bleu Cheese Soufflé. This was like a classy version of a college favorite called "The Blue Zone", which was basically just bleu cheese jammed inside of pizza dough. Ah, the good old fat days.
Out of the three of us eating, one got The Crossing Tasting Menu and the other two got The Premium Tasting Menu. I went with the Premium, because I'm fancy and stuff. Let the ordering commence!
The waiter and his excellent muttonchops helped us navigate our way through all the choices. Decisions were made and eating commenced. We all shared bites and I took photos of all the dishes, so here is a comprehensive review of 10 of The Crossing's dishes. Each will be ranked by how much I liked them.
The first round of starters were:
The soup of the day: Roasted Vegetable Soup with a drizzle of basil pesto. I really enjoyed the smokey flavor of the roasted vegetables mixed with the pesto. It had a serious kick from a jalapeño or some other spice, making it a very solid soup overall.
2. Roasted Beet Salad with creamy goat cheese, mascarpone, toasted pine nuts, sherry vinegar, pine nuts and pea shoots. I go nuts for roasted beets mixed with creamy cheese and wish I had ordered this myself. Really beautiful presentation. I'm definitely going to steal this and make a worse version of it for a lady one day.
3. Duck Liver Mousse with whole grain mustard, pickled red onion, pea shoots and little crostini. Take note, readers: I do not particularly enjoy liver mousses, pates or terrines. Yet I ordered one. I was hoping for enlightenment and I received it. While this was my least favorite of the starters, I have no problem recommending it to you ground up liver lovers.
On to the second courses! This is the reason I actually picked the Premium tasting menu. I love egg raviolo and the way the yolk oozes out all over the plate when you cut into them. It probably feels a lot like getting a great gift on Christmas, a feeling I've never experienced as a Jew.
This is probably a shocker after the comment above, but I actually enjoyed the Crab Cake with Brussels sprout leaves and lemon basil aioli more. So often you will find crab cakes that taste mostly like bread and mayo, but not this bad boy. This hockey puck sized crab cake was full of crab, had a nice crunch to it and that lemon basil aioli paired with it perfectly. Great springtime dish.
2. The other two of us got the Egg Raviolo with shaved Brussels sprouts, fresh parsley and lardons. It was HUGE. Normally people complain about not getting enough food with set menus, but not here. This thing was gluttony on a plate. As I cut into it and the yolk spilled out, I saw there was mascarpone inside it as well. Jessssus. I could have eaten just this and gone to sleep. I was expecting something light and delicate, but instead got something dense both in size and flavor. Really tasty course, just a bit too heavy for my waif-like figure
By the time the entrees came out, I could already feel I was almost at maximum capacity. I did not prepare myself for so much food!
1. My favorite of the entrees was not my own. It was the Texas Quail with Yukon gold crushed potatoes, pea shoots, mushrooms and balsamic reduction. I couldn't believe how succulent the comically tiny bird was. It was the tastiest dish of the entire evening, I think. And the cutest! I felt like Andre the Giant eating a regular sized chicken.
2. My choice was the Roasted Duck Breast served on a white corn polenta with turnips, radishes, duck leg confit and a bing cherry jus. That was some sexy looking duck. Duck breast is not my favorite (leg confit takes that honor), but this was quite good, particularly when dipped into the cherry jus.
3. I rarely get steak when we go out because I find it to be too common. Even if a restaurant is using a high quality cut of meat, my preference is go with something more complex that I wouldn't have at home. Even so, their Rain Crow Ranch grass-fed beef tenderloin with root vegetable gratin, black kale and bordelaise had good flavors with juicy meat.
Dessert after all of this? My stomach was already stretched nearly to the max...but I persisted. We decided on two desserts that were equal in deliciousness. The Financier cake with ginger gelato and streusel was about the size of a muffin with a delicate almond flavor. The gelato of the night was an Orange Chai. I was hesitant about the combo, but it was actually delicious. It reminded me of summertime in southeast Asia.