"The time was right." That's the simple reason Debbie Sharpe decided to turn Feast back into Cru Cafe & Wine Bar, officially opening with limited service tomorrow for brunch. Sharpe converted her Gold Coast wine bar into the lesser-expensive, more approachable Feast three years ago when the economy was even deeper in the crapper and people were looking for more affordable food.
"People weren't spending at the time," Sharpe said. "We found more people were doing take out from [The] Goddess [and Grocer, Sharpe's adjacent gourmet food shop] and buying wine. And everyone kept saying to me that I should have a Feast downtown since no one was doing breakfast."
But now that people are once again spending money on going out, and that Feast wasn't really doing as well of a dinner business as their breakfast, Cru is back. And there are some changes. "Oh my god, it looks totally different," Sharpe exclaimed. "It's more modernized. The bar is marble. The floors are dark. The chandlers are back—I kept them in storage. We did a mix of modern and friendly lighting. We have beautiful cork walls."
The 150-seat space will also feature a mix of wood-topped tables, French bistro-style side tables, upholstered armchairs and tufted banquettes. And now that it's warmer, people can sit outside at the 90-seat patio enjoying wine, cheese and more.
Speaking of food, Sharpe enlisted chef Richard Roettgen (Girl & The Goat, Alinea) who will put out dishes like grilled salmon skewers with mixed greens; a chunky lobster sandwich with a fish mousse served on brioche; cobia crudo with tempura artichoke; duck breast with polenta and grilled broccoli; and scallops with pork belly and bok choy. "You think it's really simple, but then you think about what he's done to get to that dish and it's beautiful," Sharpe said about Roettgen's food.
The wine list will comprise about 120 bottles and 24 glass pours pulled together by sommelier Bret Heiar. You'll find wine from around the world, but Sharpe said she's really excited about the "eclectic" and "adventurous" list with bottles from Serbia, Hungary, Greece and Lebanon.
You'd think running a couple of restaurants would be enough, but Sharpe also spends a lot of time with her Eat Your Hearts Out! catering company, which caters the stars and crew at big-scale concerts like Roger Waters, Madonna, Brad Paisley and even Nickelback, where she was when news broke the other day that Cru was coming back.
But when she's not feeding the famous, Sharpe will be at home in the Gold Coast at Cru. "We're in a great position, just south of the [Viagra] Triangle and we're more quiet and a neighborhood place," she said. "We've kept a lot of the same regulars. I wanted to go back to being a late-night place."
· Second Act [~EChi~]
· Cru Cafe & Wine Bar [website]