Checked another one off the list. Crop Bistro has been on there for a while, and this past weekend, the two of us made it out there. We tried to go a few weeks ago for the summer menu, but plans changed, and in the meantime, so did the menu (of course, that’s not a bad thing, and we were delighted with the fall fare). We arrived early and the place filled up quickly, so I’d say reservations are pretty strongly recommended.
Crop is located just across the street from the West Side Market in Cleveland, and housed in the old United Bank and Trust building. Probably one of the coolest venues we’ve eaten in – high ceilings, marble pillars, and a wide expanse of windows made me feel like we had stepped back in time. The menu is very seasonal, with much of it coming from surrounding farms. In addition to the dining room setting, the presentation of each course was among the most beautiful we’ve seen.
We started with a soup (curried cauliflower) and salad (shaved Market salad). The soup was topped with a ginger-carrot puree and dehydrated grapes (my initial thought was, “Oh, fancy raisins,” but they are most assuredly not raisins). Rich and smooth, it was a fantastic starter for a chilly evening. The shaved salad was also a treat – carrots, apple, celery root, fennel, butternut squash, and golden beets over greens, and topped with spiced pumpkin seeds and a cider vinaigrette. All the vegetables were raw and sliced extremely thin, which added an interesting flavor and textural component.
For the main course, S selected the Cavendish Farm pheasant, which was fully half the bird. A seared breast and confit leg and thigh were drizzled with a Calvados (cider brandy) and Dijon cream sauce, and paired with a very enjoyable apple and sweet potato cake. The bird was succulent and delicious, and the cake, well, we’re going to try to replicate it at home.
I tried the seared scallops, which were large and perfectly done – nice crust on the outside, incredibly tender inside. These were served atop slices of roasted celery root and braised leeks. Celery root has a nice celery-like flavor, but it’s pretty mild. The leeks were braised to the point of being almost buttery in consistency… yum.
And of course, dessert. Too many to choose from, so we splurged and split two. Not only were they works of art, they were exquisite combinations of a wide variety of flavors. First was the Baked Potato, a sweet potato custard sitting amidst a toasted marshmallow swirl, puffed quinoa, and dabs of sour cream ice cream. The custard was sweetly savory, the ice cream had a nice tang to complement the sweetness, and the quinoa added a pleasant crunch to mix things up a bit.
The second dessert was Layers of Plum – a beautiful layering of plum gelatins, mulled red wine, milk chocolate, and a hazelnut crunch, served aside burnt cinnamon ice cream. Again, great mixing of flavors; sweet, nutty, rich, tart… it’s all there.
The verdict: Crop Bistro gets six stars out of seven. The location is awesome, service was prompt, pleasant, and on-the-ball, prices range a bit toward the high side (upper $20s for most entrees), and of course, the food was absolutely phenomenal. Highly, highly recommended.