Bar Cru takes its name from the French word for “raw,” and they’re paying homage to three main raw seafood dishes: sushi, poke and ceviche.
The minimal little restaurant is tucked away on Market Street opposite the St. Lawrence Market.
This is the venture of Victoria Tran and partner and chef Brandon La, who came here from Montreal, hence the French name.
A simple salmon bowl ($13.50) from the poke section comes with cucumber, popping edamame, sweet pickled onions, seaweed salad, and a healthy amount of spicy mayo, tobiko and pea shoots.
More off the beaten track is the octopus bowl ($14.95). The octopus is a little chewy but it has great flavour and the cut is a good size, and it comes with cucumber, white onion, black sesame seeds, seaweed salad, pea shoots and a funky, tart kimchi lime sauce.
Though they offer omakase every day that ranges from 12 ($10.95) to 52 pieces ($70.95), we go for the day’s special roll ($7.95). With 12 or 14 piece omakase you can choose your nigiri, hosomaki and urumaki, but 42 or 52 pieces are all the chef's choice.
Today's special is topped with torched salmon and a pickled wasabi relish that completely offsets any sliminess of the okra inside, leaving you with pure crunchy veggie goodness.
Ceviche bowls are served with lettuce, quinoa, onions, sweet potato puree, micro sprouts and corn, corn nuts and hominy, traditional toppings you'd find in South America.
The quinoa soaks up the “tiger’s milk” ceviche dressing of their own design, a nikkei of aji amarillo peppers, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and lime so you can’t sip like you usually might.
Our shrimp choice is $13.50. The flavours combine really well: I like sweet potato puree mixed in with everything and it certainly feels more healthy than some other lunch options, and the corn nuts add a pleasant crunch and saltiness.
It’s mainly white and plain in here with a wall of exposed brick, but it’s pretty spacious, and has a relaxed feel that incorporates communal tables, bar seating facing the chef, and a water station where you can freely grab a cup yourself.
The radio cycles through familiar throwbacks, and I can’t help but feel at ease with such a simple menu and environment.