Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cru Café: Upscale Lowcountry Comfort Food

Located in a classic 18th-century Charleston cottage-style house across from the carriage tour companies of Charleston near the Market Street historic district and Charleston City Market, Cru is home to some of the best gourmet Lowcountry comfort food in Charleston. The space is small and the seating limited, but that’s all part of the charm! The wide and welcoming wraparound porch may lure people in, but it's Chef John Zucker's creative menu of traditional Southern favourites that keeps people coming back. Zucker got his start at Spago in Beverly Hills, where he adopted Puck's rigid standards, "Do it right and use the best possible ingredients. That was put into my head from the start of my career and we will never waiver." Cru's menu of fresh local seafood, seasonal produce and grilled meats, includes dishes such as Duck Confit Salad with caramelized pecans and goat cheese dressed with a port-wine vinaigrette and topped with fried shoestring onions; Fried Green Tomatoes served with pork belly croutons, sheep’s milk feta and smoked tomato caramel; Mac & Cheese made with four cheeses; to Fried Oyster Hoagies with red pepper jam and mustard BBQ sauce. Every sandwich comes with a side of asian slaw, frites or flavourful whipped mashed potato which are made with real cream — no wonder there are lineups everyday!

Cru's 18th-century exterior in Charleston's Farmer's Market district

The casual vintage interior of Cru

Cru's lunch menu

A basket of fresh cornbread and butter

Fried Green Tomatoes with pork belly croutons, sheep's milk feta and smoked tomato caramel

Local Pinot Grigio

Soft Shelled Crab Sandwich with coleslaw and pomme frites

Garlic Chicken Club with pepper jack cheese on sourdough bread with frites

Cru's signature Four Cheese Mac and Cheese — the best I've ever had!

Duck Confit Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans, Tomato, Fried Onions and Port Wine Vinaigrette

The tiny bustling kitchen at Cru

Chef Zucker

Cru Café Four Cheese Macaroni
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy Chef John Zucker

8 cups heavy cream, reduced in half
1 lb orecchiette pasta 
1 cup each of hand grated Pepper Jack, Aged Cheddar, Fontina & Mozzarella
1/4 cup olive oil

For the final cooking:
1/2 cup each of hand grated Pepper Jack, Aged Cheddar, Fontina & Mozzarella 
Salt and pepper

In a medium sized saucepan, slowly reduce the cream in half. Cook the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Cool down rapidly in cold water then drain all the excess water. Coat the pasta lightly in olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside. Grate all the cheeses by hand keeping them separate. When the cream has reduced in half, reduce the heat to low and whisk in all of the 'one cup' quantities of cheese until fully melted, then set aside off the heat. Add together the remaining cheese, pasta and cheese sauce in a big bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix very well without breaking up the pasta. Add the final ingredients to a casserole pan and bake at 375°F until lightly brown on top.

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