Ever since we discovered Crop Bistro last summer, it’s been in our upper echelon of local restaurants. When we found out that the owners were opening a new joint over in University Circle, Crop Kitchen jumped to the top of our must-try list.
Crop Kitchen is located in the same space as the former Accent restaurant (which we never made it to before they closed) – the space is beautiful and open, with tall ceilings, a wall of windows, and an open kitchen (above which large chalkboards are mounted to display the daily specials). Definitely a casual vibe that just screams for a group affair, which is what we had last week: most of my siblings and various significant others (eight in all) got together for dinner before enjoying a concert at Severance Hall.
The menu shares some commonality with the original Crop’s, and you’ll see items like deviled eggs and cherry bombs on both. Crop Kitchen, however, adds a little more of an Asian flair (an ode to Accent, or merely drawing upon the Umami experience of Chef Matt Anderson?) and leans toward the lighter end. There are still big plates, but there’s more focus on sandwiches and salads (and sushi!). Still the same emphasis on fresh and local though.
Since there were eight of us, we sampled a good chunk of the menu. Apps were the chile deviled eggs and pork spring rolls. The eggs were a step up from the everyday, with a depth of flavor and a little kick of heat provided by the pepper. The spring rolls were pleasantly porky, and really, that was my initial thought upon taking a bit. Generic take-out egg rolls are usually kinda mushy, greasy, bland things; these were crisp and not too oily, and the flavors actually came through (not to mention the delicious soy-plum dipping sauce).
S tried a slow-cooked pork shoulder, complete with squash, apples, cider broth, and a mustard maple topper. It’s a fattier cut of meat, so there were a couple bites that were too much for her to chew, but overall it was a nice balance. Winter comfort on a plate.
I selected another of the daily specials, this one a five-spice salmon with golden beet, sunchokes, spinach, and a Chai beet puree. The salmon was cooked more like tuna (medium-rare) which I wasn’t expecting, but it turned out great. Salmon is often overcooked and ends up dry, so this was a pleasant surprise. Being mostly roots, the vegetables had a nice earthy fragrance, and the Chai puree was a really neat combination of flavors.
At the table, we also had a meatloaf sandwich (with fresh kimchi), fried chicken sandwich, hanger steak, and beef udon noodle, among others (I told you, we tried most of the menu). Everything I tried was excellent.