Sussex Business Times’ continues this month with our regular lunch review. This time around, we venture to Eastbourne’s town centre to endure a delightful evening at Cru
Lucky us having a booking to visit Cru in Eastbourne this week for a working lunch. I have heard much about this place having changed the dining experience in Eastbourne for the better.
I have spent several years dining in and out of Eastbourne at various places and this, I can confirm, is a true fact. A contemporary, young, wine bar and restaurant offering a wine shop is an absolutely delightful place to visit.
I struck gold by managing to visit at the same time as the owner/manager Hardy Ovaisi who could not have been a more accommodating host. Genuine and friendly, Hardy was able to tell me a great deal about the restaurant which was a gift I am not usually treated to on my reviews.
In my quest to be independent I decided to make up my own mind. The wine list is truly world class with sommeliers trained at the infamous Plumpton college. That fact alone attracted me to the adventurous wine list. There are over 200 hand selected artisan wines on the list and I can’t remember anywhere in Eastbourne which can boast such a mouth watering selection.
After looking through the extensive wine list we informed Hardy of our food choice and asked him to recommend something. His knowledge surpassed any sommelier I have previously encountered. He recommended a 2012 Barlolo made by Anna Maria Abbona, whom we were told is part of the quality control panel for wines from Barolo. It was a fine elegant wine and a true joy to drink and complimented our steak perfectly.
In my view wine bars often fall short with food offering the standard nibbles and cheese. However the food in Cru is out of this world. The award winning chef Nic Oarton, previously from the Mirabelle in the Grand, gets it right in every single dish on the menu. His life might be made easier by the dedication to obtaining the best quality ingredients, with the restaurant personally visiting London every fortnight to source the best dry aged loins of beef for their famous steaks, one of which, my personal favourite, is the Tomahawk. But the journey continues with the chef making everything else fresh in-house and what appears to be a genuine commitment to local ingredients. Even the fishtail Neon sign was locally crafted by Brighton artist Andy Doig!
The menu changes with the seasons and there are different specials each week which really push food boundaries and make for an exciting visit every time. Daring dishes such as Wagyu beef and lobster burgers, Iberica acorn fed pig dishes and Wagyu steaks make for an inspiring menu and would impress even our most adventurous business readers.
We started our experience with a charcuterie platter to share, which was a mixture of fine cold meats and cheeses. A fabulous selection that included, iberico chorizo, salami Milano and coppa, accompanied by barbers cheddar, brighton blue cheese, golden cross goats cheese, manchego and reblechon. Presented beautifully on a wooden platter and a perfect way to start the meal.
For main course me and my colleague opted for the special to share, a 52 day dry-aged Tomerhawk Steak. We excepted Hardy’s advise to have this on the bone Steak cooked medium rare. It was cooked to perfection and so tender due to the quality produce. We was informed that the Tomerhawk is dry aged in London which uses Himalayan salt in the process of dry ageing to add flavour and depth to the meat.
After two amazing courses there was not a great deal of room left for dessert, but I could not resist the dark chocolate brûlée, with white chocolate sorbet and pear and cardoman compote. An innovative take on a traditional creme brûlée and was simply delightful.
The restaurant was heaving for a mid-week lunch and appears to have a fantastic local following. I am reliably informed by Hardy that even people from other towns such as Hastings, Bexhill, Brighton and even London make the journey just to visit Cru. I can well believe it.
The service was a nice balance of highly trained and very knowledgeable staff who understandably and obviously love their jobs as they are so passionate about the wine and ingredients. One became visibly enthusiastic when I asked about a particular wine and was able to describe regions and grapes and why the wine was chosen. The staff also seemed to pay attention to comfort, ensuring each of us were seated well and enquiring at various intervals if we needed anything more. I have to say these enquiries were so discreet as to hardly notice them at all and is a true indication of well trained, polite staff.
Cru is a game-changer for Eastbourne, raising the standards of local food choices and I suspect leaving other restaurants rightly a little uncomfortable. The staff, wine, food and general ambience makes for a wine / dining experience like no other.
8 Hyde Gardens