$17 per taste. That’s the price you can plan to pay for enjoying the new concept at Crush, where each plate is based on a primary ingredient or flavor profile. (A current foie gras dish comes with a $4 upcharge, and pairings—typically wine, but can be beer, sake, or even a cocktail—are available at $10 each.) It’s a bit of a bold move by James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson, who opened the restaurant nearly ten years ago.
The menu is compelling, making for difficult decision-making. There are about 15 plates, each getting its own line on the menu. A single word or phrase denotes the theme, followed by a list of the primary ingredients that comprise each dish. The diner’s dilemma: Inquire about the preparation, or sit back for a surprise?
I like a little mystery, so my dining companion and I selected four dishes each in a lighter to heavier sequence so that we could sample eight in all. (The menu suggests 4-7 plates per person to make a meal.) My coursing went from a desire for Bacon & Eggs to a love of earthy Truffle to my current intrigue with Beets to a curiosity about corn—here titled Maize.
That $17 per plate price seems high initially (and feels that way for a couple of the dishes, like the ones that feature small portions of geoduck and hamachi), but at Crush you get high-quality ingredients and expert execution in preparation. The food is extremely flavorful and ultimately filling if you can forego the current feeding trough mentality. And it’s certainly in line with the pricing you find with today’s tasting menu trend. The experience is more precious than the one at meaty Miller’s Guild, which is Wilson’s new restaurant, with both places worthy of a splurge.
Read on to see the eight dishes I tried, plus a surprising delightful dessert…
Bacon & Eggs: parsnip flan, ikura, bacon foam, noble syrup. A “breakfasty” start with welcomed sweetness from the bourbon barrel matured maple syrup.
Truffle: egg, parsley, shallot, Wagyu beef steak tartare, vodka, Parmesan. Great smell and flavor of truffle, with more truffle mixed with egg and foie gras on the side.
Beets: bone broth, bacon, wild Sitka Alaska King salmon, horseradish, asparagus. The beet-infused fishy broth was the highlight.
Maize: popcorn, cornbread, Iberico pork loin, foie gras, peach, basil. Fun Southern-style dish, with foie in the corn emulsion.
Ginger: cucumber, big big bubbles, verjus, scallions, geoduck clam ceviche, sea beans. Ginger flavor was subtle, but great geoduck texture and delicious earthiness and saltiness of the sea beans.
Black Garlic: English pea, hamachi, melon, spring onion, celeriac, lemon. I wanted the black garlic flavor to be more prominent, but enjoyed Crush’s hamachi, as always.
Pickle: celery, apple, rhubarb, beet stems, soubise, wild Columbia River sturgeon. Pretty plate and nice pickling.
Oolong Tea: morel mushrooms, leeks, apricot mostarda, roasted Muscovy duck breast. Interesting spin on the Chinese tea-smoked duck dish.
Harissa: Harissa ice cream in a meringue bowl with apricot puree, yogurt, and silky mint gel. I loved the way all the flavors played off against each other. Memorable dessert!