Sunday, March 30, 2014

Creo Restaurant

Do our eyes deceive us? Banh mi AND poutine under one roof? The two dishes we live and die for were both on the lunch menu at Creo Restaurant. It's like they were meant just for us. I was always intimidated by Creo, thinking it was too stuffy to be part of our dining scene.  We frequent Mr. Fuji Sushi and The Meat House on a regular basis but for for some reason or another, we always bypassed Creo at Stuvesant Plaza. Setting our prejudices aside, we set off for to try a new experience. The menu had our names written all over it; how could we pass up on two of our favorite meals?

Our search for poutine in the Capital Region has led us to various interpretations, from The City Beer Hall to Capital City Gastropub, with little success in replicating the flavors and squeakiness of this French Canadian delicacy. They both deserve honorable mentions for use of quality ingredients but the magic is in a certain cheese curd and execution of the dish. It's hard to impress this Canadian-Vietnamese. Thus far, the only place that has been able to perfect the ratio of unmelted cheese curd to crispy fries and gravy has been The Montreal Poutine food truck. The cheese curd I look for has a particular flavor and texture that local cheddar curds here just don't have. Oddly enough, Montreal Poutine truck aside, the only other cheese curd with the exact flavor profile can be found frozen in Trader Joe's version of poutine but the fries and gravy that come with it are atrocious. It's difficult to describe what I'm looking for exactly in terms of flavor but it's almost a cross between mozzarella and cheddar and the texture and squeak of halloumi. So how does Creo's poutine fare? 

The Creo poutine is decadently made with house made fries, duck confit and duck gravy, and fresh cheese curds. It's an updated and more refined version of our beloved street food. The true test to any good poutine is in the cheese and while these didn't squeak as much, the flavor was right on and that's a win in our book. Plus they weren't melted into oblivion. The fries were crispy and well-seasoned. A forkful of potatoes with rich duck gravy, meaty bites of confit, and that beloved cheese curd and you've got yourself the ultimate comfort food. The only thing that could have made this dish even better was more cheese curds. You can never have enough cheese, especially when it comes to poutine. FInally, a 518 poutine that passes our standards. J's been begging to come back for more poutine eversince. 

When it comes to Vietnamese sandwiches, nothing is more satisfying than the ones at Banh Mi Hung Phat in Montreal. At $3.50 in Canadian dollars, it is the epitome of a perfect banh mi, from the perfect crusty bread to pickled veggies and savory fillings. At $15, the Creo banh mi is the most expensive Vietnamese sandwich we've ever paid for but just coudn't pass on without trying. For what it's worth, the Creo version is generously piled with marinated meat at an entree portion and comes with a beautiful, colorful side salad. I was surprised to taste authentic Vietnamese flavors in the pork, especially with bites of cilantro and pickled carrots and daikon. However, I didn't care for the sesame aioli which overpowered the flavor of the meat rather than complementing it; a garlic mayo would have fared better like the ones you see in the Montreal sandwich shops. Sadly, the French baguette just didn't cut it. The roll was so hard and dense that it was difficult to even take a whole bite of the sandwich. A banh mi roll needs to be light and crusty on the outside but light and squishable on the inside. In fact, I wouldn't have minded if Creo used the loaf from the complimentary bread basket.  It's not the banh mi sandwich of our dreams but at least the flavors were there.

We also couldn't say no to prosciutto-wrapped shrimp, an appetizer special of the day. The gigantic prawns came served over a bed of fried spinach with a dijon-horseradish dipping sauce. The shrimp were meaty and sweet and of course everything tastes better with bacon, well in this case prosciutto. Although a bit greasy, fried spinach added a fun textural contrast to the dish and horseradish added a good kick of flavor. A little squeeze of lemon would have been a welcomed addition just to brighten up  the dish. Overall we were impressed with our first visit to Creo but the money dish is in the poutine. It's a little bit of Canada in Albany!

** Creo Restaurant closed its doors in May 2016

1 comment:

  1. nyc recipe..!!!