The rain in Spain is falling mainly in the Hills, it seems. There’s the more traditional yet slightly touristy El Bulli on Elizabeth St, Bentley Bar’s loopy molecular take on Crown St, Bodega’s rock ‘n’ roll tapas off Foveux and now there’s Cru54 who have managed to take the best from all the aforementioned, slick and shine it up and reduce the noise.
Try the calvados apples and chorizo on skewers. Though the chorizo isn’t as moist and flavour-laden with fatty goodness as you might hope, it’s still very tasty. Then there’s the light, airy mashed potato tainted with jamon then deep-fried until crisp on the outside and ultra fluffy and hammy on the inside. And the tortilla layered with wafer thin slices of potato.
But what’s this? Russian salad? Strangely and mysteriously, it’s incredibly popular in Spain (known as ensaladilla rusa) and with good reason: it’s delicious. Tiny cubes of potato are mixed through with capers, piquillo peppers and pieces of prawn. And if the thought of braised lettuce sends you as crazy as it does us, try the cos lettuce – it’s encasing pieces of soft, sweet apple and melt-in-the-mouth morcilla (that’s blood sausage, folks).
The room is simple – white walls, tables and bars with a large feature light hanging down in the middle of the room like an angler fish looking for snacks – each metal prong is equipped with its own little light. And the menu is concise – there’s a few smaller tapa; crunchy, slightly waxy roasted almonds, marinated olives and white anchovies – and some bustier dishes like the heart of palm and Ortiz (that company who do the excellent anchovies) tuna salad.
And though it’s raining like the clappers outside when we’re there – sheets of water slapping against Foveaux Street, waves crashing on the tiles outside the pubs and sodden locals running for shelter as garbage spews from the drains and rats run for higher ground – inside Cru54, it’s calm. We’re greeted on arrival with clean, warm tea towels with which to dry off and a fat glass of tempranillo as we drip all over the polished concrete floor. Impressive touch.
One of the most interesting sounding dishes is the calamari with squid ink crumbs and aioli – the squid is lightly grilled and very tender and the idea is that you dip the squid into the aioli then sprinkle the ink crumbs on top. It’s a nice idea but actually not as interesting in practice.
It’s also easily forgotten when you’re sitting in front of the banana pain perdu. Basically banana bread fried and crusted in sugar, it comes with a splodge of chocolate ganache (that’s simply chocolate whipped with hot water and crumbled with sea salt flakes), topped with a rough chop of toasted almond and the tiniest drizzle of olive oil. It’s a balanced, beautiful dessert. Unpretentious, unassuming and worth a wander down Foveaux for.