Ah, there's that Papyrus typeface again. I think we're going to be seeing that for a long time, anywhere an eatery gets remotely healthy and modern.
Despite the high turnover rate of businesses along this tiny triangle between Sunset and Griffith Park Blvd., Cru has managed to survive here for a few years after the previous raw restaurant went away. Past the black awning the interior is relaxed modernism, amber teardrop lamps hanging from a brown ceiling. I also like sitting at one of the two small tables outside, listening to the confused traffic and the loud conversations from MorningsNights next door.
Chef Rachel Carr has carefully considered the intricacies of vegan, organic and raw food, and compiled an ever-changing menu of both raw and cooked dishes (considerately separated on the menu so you don't gulp nervously when presented with crunchy things you'd think to bribe a parrot with). Everything here is gluten-free, organic, and vegetarian (except for an occasional use of honey).
This bowl is filled with stuff I thought I'd never willingly place in front of me: kale, celery, zucchini, squash. Yet it's all puréed together with onion and other things into a mossy military olive color, and is warm and fulfilling.
A measure of what looks like vinegar is poured atop, which turns out to be Australian pumpkin seed oil*. It adds an oily nuttiness to what would be understandably vegetal, and it also swirls into neat Kanji characters while eating. This kale soup is savory.
The Gluten-Free Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes are exactly that, a pair of griddle-darkened, heat-retaining moonscapes with a dense, gluey texture. They smell good, and taste better, especially when drizzled with agave syrup, that high-fructose, ruinous rockstar of the sweet world. (You can get honey instead if you like.) Cinnamon is dusted around the edges of the plate for additional noms.
Each is half again the size of the buckwheat pancakes at Flore, so these are good for taking home.
On to the raw experience. I hesitate to call it a pizza any more than tomatoes and garlic on a crisp slice of brioche is a pizza, but the Raw Marinated Vegetable Pizza is pretty tasty. The crust is sunflower flatbread, somewhere between a tortilla chip and a pie crust in texture, and really rather good, not shattery or birdseedy.
The toppings are cool like a ceviche. Peppers and onions are sautéed and layered with shiitake mushrooms, over a spicy, zesty, squash-colored paste which turns out to be a pepper jack cheese made from cashews. I think it's the foundation of this dish.
Looming over this is a leafy salad wetted by a thick, creamy dressing that is reminiscent of pesto, cilantro, and which I'm told has ground-up pumpkin seeds.
During the day I like the honey-sweetened Ginger Limeade, clean and not too saccharine, with serious chunks of ginger prepared to shoot up your straw and set fire to your mouth.
Cru is slightly on the expensive side for lunch, but not for Silver Lake; an entree with soup or a special drink will often run past fifteen dollars. Parking is metered until you get up into the hills, and the parking enforcement cars are energetic around these parts.
* I can lie and say that I deduced it with my uncanny senses of taste and smell, but actually I asked what it was.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Vegetarian/Vegan, Healthy/Organic, Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park )
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