Tasty Leaves and Roots
Veggies are the new Meta
At cozy Crowbar
All I knew about Crowbar was that their cheese burger was the thing to order, regardless if it appears on the changing menu or not. Stepping into the place, the vibe I got was hipster bar. A candle light glow made the place cozy, with a long bar on the west side serving artisan beers and cocktails, and a limited number of high top tables on the east side. My expectation was to have a meal of elevated pub food.
I left the place in an unexpected contemplative mood. The compact menu of Crowbar surprisingly features vegetables prominently and not the typical deep fried, meat centric bar fare. My dinner of consisted mainly of delicious roots and leaves supplemented with a bit of meat and Italian flare.
Big boy carrots, a.k.a the thick, water bottle sized kind my mom (probably most Chinese moms) use for long simmered soups, were grilled bringing out the root’s sweetness. The tender and charred slices were paired with a sweet earthy warm black garlic bagna cuada dip.
A quartered BBQ cabbage served with a bolognese sauce infused with liver was simple but outstanding. Unfurling each leaf and dragging it through the sauce, yielded a bite that had a dense umami flavour reminiscent of a hearty cabbage roll.
Continuing with Italian sauces, a smoked tonnato, a dip made with tuna, contrasted the crispy and sweet roasted brussels sprouts. A piave cheese added another layer of savoury flavour.
The last share plate I tried was the grilled tender sweetbreads and shrimp. The real star of the dish was the green fermented hot sauce underneath the ingredients which starts out tangy but becomes pleasantly spicy. The sauce went well with all the components, especially the crisp potato cubes.
Finally the cheese burger arrived and after one bite I can say its reputation is well deserved. The beef is aged in house, coarse ground, and grilled to just a wonderful pink colour. Simply paired with taleggio cheese and mayo, this small burger packs a juicy, rich, beefy punch. To be honest, the only comparison I have are burgers I’ve had in USA. I believe the kitchen only prepares a few patties per night and don’t always put it on the menu, so always ask if it’s available as it’s a must order.
The crispy potatoes that came with the burger are fantastic as well. The cubes are extremely crispy but soft and fluffy on the inside. My favourite thing is the tangy spicy tomato powder, think dehydrated cocktail sauce with horseradish, that coats the potatoes.
As much as the burger and sweetbread were delicious and well prepared, it was the plant matter that stood out. It got me thinking why more restaurants don’t use produce as the driver of a dish. There are economic, health, and environmental benefits to consuming more vegetables, while decreasing meat consumption.
Outside of vegetarian restaurants, plants are usually shuttered off to the sides menu and not given a spotlight. However, when chefs take the time to reinvent boring, over steamed or over buttered/cheesed vegetables with techniques normally reserved for meat, trends are born. Some popular foods in the past years have been kale, deep fried cauliflower, cauliflower rice, and Brussels Sprouts made with bacon – so don’t tell me diners are veggie adverse.
Thoughtfully prepared vegetables, even if it comes with a bit of meat, can be a game changer for dining out. In a menu full of animal protein, delicious plant based dishes can stand out due to their novelty. Crowbar is a perfect place to understand why vegetables are the new meta.
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