I have a Crush
Cesare and Andrea, chef and owners of Zinc Brasserie, on May 19th, opened their new restaurant across the street, and that is Crush Wine Bar. For the past year, there were rumors that they were looking at a water front property on Shoreline Dr and possibly opening a noveau Italian restaurant. But, this is a better concept for me, a wine bar with various small (tapas-esque) plates to mix and match with various wine pours. To start I believe the menu was all small plates, but this doesn't seem to work for American traditional diners who want a big meal plate like steak and potatoes, or a big pasta dish. Shortly after the soft opening, they put larger plates on the menu to have something that each volume and taste would want in dinner.
During my most recent trip to Sandusky, I got a chance to talk to Andrea about the new Crush Wine Bar. It turns out Cesare had decided to hire two chefs, one for Crush and one For Zinc. Both new chefs are from C.I.A. Hyde Park, NY. The new chefs bring a breath of fresh air to north central Ohio, and a real focus on excellent, local and organic ingredients with excellent preparation techniques. Cesare and Andrea also have hired a bunch of other people to work at Crush, which is helping the local economy for sure. I am amazed with the economy that there can be this pocket of growth in Sandusky. Crush and Zinc have really livened up the Sandusky, OH downtown area, and helped make downtown a destination again. Crush and Zinc are real gems for a Sandusky, OH.
When I went to Crush mid-week for dinner (Crush is only open for dinner Wed - Sun) and the place was packed, and seemingly with mostly locals. There is a bar, and that was packed with people ordering wine by the glass and small plate snacks while chit-chatting with friends. In the back of the restaurant is a window to the open kitchen, and a chef's table dining area that can be reserved for a large dinner party, and also for chef's tasting menu if you call ahead. The wine menu offers 3 oz, 6 oz and bottles of wine, which is great for me. I don't drink a lot, so it is nice to have 3 oz at a time to pair with dish, and then be able to move on with another wine pairing. The menu is also fun and reasonably priced as well. There are small cold plates like salads, olives, bread and olive oil. There are small hot plates that include gastro-pub style foods like duck wings, calamari, pork belly and ribs. For those who are not used to a dim sum, tapas or small plate concept, there are large plates of pasta or meat. There is also a cheese course which is a nice touch because I do enjoy ending a meal with a cheese course as if I were in Burgundy, France.
For my meal, I got a bunch of small dishes. I got fresh baked French bread with olive oil dip, calamari with jalapeno peppers and lemon aioli, a Thai inspired fresh vegetable salad, and grilled pork belly with pineapple. I really liked pork belly and char grilled food, so this was a dish I really wanted to try. The pork belly is braised for hours, sliced thick and then put on the grill to give it some smoke and char. What is not to love about pig fat? The salad, eh, it was a salad with a lot of carrots, and I just don't love carrots. I am sure it was a good concept, but it was not for me because of the carrots. I love the bread, it is the same bread served at Zinc. It is crispy on the outside, and a little chewy on the inside, and the perfect French Bread if there could be a perfect French Bread. In the past, I have called ahead to Zinc, and ordered a loaf of this Bread to take with me and snack on in the hotel room. Oh, the bread is so good. The calamari was cooked well. For my taste, I am used to really spicy and strong flavored Thai style dipping sauce for fried squid, and I will likely ask if they have any hot peppery sauce next time I get this dish. I enjoy eating a lot of small plates like tapas and dim sum instead of one big monolithic meal, so Crush menu concept fits my favorite style of eating.
The menu both food and wine are completely different in concept and flavors from Zinc. Crush has a much more gast-pub bar feel to it, while Zinc is more of a quieter lunch and dinner concept. If you are in Sandusky, it is worth visiting both restaurants.
Labels: Ohio Eats