Crow Hill

7 Nov

Rating: 6 Shrimp Tails

I’d been to Crow Hill twice before, and each time I’ve fallen a little further head over heels for the place. Going into this visit, I really wanted to attempt an unbiased take on everything.

That isn’t possible.

From the second I see the door I already feel the fatlove for this food burning in my stomach/heart. It might also be the warm, cozy atmosphere inside the restaurant. The  whole dining area is lit by a few low lights and the candles burning at each table. The place manages a rustic earthy charm without being condescending or hokey. It’s just nice  enough to make you feel as if you’re someplace special, but equally simple enough to feel homey. Also it’s hard to tell just how buzzed you are until you leave.

Described the place? Check. Now for the food:

The first thing I did once we were seated was attempt a ninja grab of the drinks menu. Unfortunately for me my fellow diner a)knows me too well b)is a fellow lush c)likes  thwarting anything I do…. just for the lulz. Doesnt really matter, I know the exact drink I want and only wanted to check if it was still on the menu. Weirdly enough it is, but under a different name. This drink has changed names 3 times (River Walk, Speculara, Equinox) which I find odd but as long as its there who am I to complain? Satisfied that my booze selection was still available, I order when the waitress shows up with water and marinated pickles in hand.

I will say, the first couple of times I was here they brought over the same marinated pickles but with absolutely NO explanation. Just set down a cute farmsy type jar of some weird pickle concoction. It’s a nice idea; it’s a little munch before the appetizer that takes up no stomach space and is quite tasty. I do very much appreciate that they actually explained the dish this time so it wasnt a guessing game of “its good but what the fuck is this?” The pickles managed to distract me for a minute before I began an anxious “where’s my drink” chant in my head and eagerly scanned the bar area constantly looking for our server with a tray of drinks in hand. I feel like this took more time than it could have, but the lack of alcohol may have affected my sense of time. After 5 hours (5 minutes) my drink finally arrives and upon first glance is everything I remembered and loved.

pictured: booze

Then I sipped it. The drink is a mixture of muddled cucumber, grapefruit bitters, gin (which i generally despise), and some other various ingredients. Normally it tastes slightly of each of these, creating a “summer in your mouth” crisp fresh flavor. This time around the grapefruit overpowered the other flavors. I am luckily a huge fan of grapefruit so I still enjoyed the cocktail, but I was very disappointed that at $9 a pop (in a martini glass) they couldn’t maintain consistency in their drinks. Oh well, good news was the alcohol was there and now I could focus on the eats. After a bit of discussion with my friend, we decided to go with the Crow Hill Deviled Eggs. Lump crabmeat, red onion, celery, and whole grain mustard vinaigrette (which i had on the smoked trout salad during a previous visit and loved) were enough to get me interested and when my companion, who hates hard-boiled eggs, was on board as well it was a done deal. For the main course I went with shrimp and grits; my buddy went with the burger cooked medium rare with cheddar and a fried egg added. After a very short wait, the eggs were brought out.

I am a HUGE fan of deviled eggs pretty much any way you prepare them, so I was on course to love this dish. The real test was my friend. After just one bite his eyes got big and he became a fan of deviled eggs. The crab was indeed lump and used generously. The yolk mixture was creamy and sweet which was perfect with the mustard vinaigrette. since I DID have a review to type, I bogarted three of the eggs leaving him with just that one taste of glory. To be fair, I did promise next time we came we’d order the same appetizer. We both picked at the field greens in the middle; rubbing them in the mustard and munching like rabbits waiting for our main courses.

Little back story on shrimp and grits: I have only had them once before at Elijah’s, and they were awful. So bad i barely touched them. The sauce was oily and bland, it seemed to just make everything a brown soggy mess. I like grits; I love shrimp, but after that first try I wasnt sure if this dish was for me. I was worried about regretting our decision when this was brought before me. It looked delicious. And it smelled even better. The last vestiges of doubt I had evaporated the second i put a bite in my mouth. It was perfectly seasoned, just spiced enough for a little kick of flavor without being overwhelming. I was in heaven. I loved the little cubes of fresh tomato, and looking at the picture now I remember there were mushrooms. I normally hate the texture of cooked mushrooms so me forgetting that says a lot. I immediately flagged down the next waitress that passed and asked for a spoon; a fork was not going to shovel this in fast enough. It came with a side of some butter sauce that I later found out to be Poblano Beurre Blanc. It was a nice touch but the grits being so good made it almost unnecessary. The dish was spot on and was more than I even hoped shrimp and grits could be. I have since been informed there are a few different types of shrimp and grits. I don’t care. In my mind there are two: Crow Hill, and everything else. The only complaint I have is in Gail Simmons fashion, that being the shrimp had tails on them. Yes it improves the presentation, but in a classy joint I’m not a fan of pulling the tails off a sauce covered prawn. And I’m damned sure not going to let that extra bite of shrimp get away. Yes, that’s the only complaint I could muster. It took quite a few bites before I could care what was on the other side of the table but eventually my nose wandered. The smell of a well cooked burger will only be held off for so long…

Cheddar and fried egg are what I always add, so I have had this same burger before. It is scrumptious and worth every penny. What I failed to remember was that he ordered it medium rare. This is what crow hill considers medium rare:

Wow. I was in glorious shock and disbelief. Just for the record: if you think beef shouldnt be pink when you eat it, go to McDonald’s. Or better yet, just don’t order beef because you don’t deserve it. The rarer the beef is, the happier I am. And I find it absolutely commendable that the cook staff actually cooked it to his request. I took a few bites to confirm what I already knew. This thing was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. They use Painted Hills beef, which is an all natural beef. Fun fact: They are apparently one of only three places on the East Coast to sell it. I’m no expert, and have no idea if this is part of the reason the beef is so tasty, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. As far as we could tell the minimal salt and pepper was the only seasoning. For $10 ($13 for the burger as ordered), this may be the best burger in town. I thought the fries were just ok; my friend loved them. I’ve eaten more fresh fried french fries than I care to remember, so it’s always just meh for me. He liked the fact that most had a fair amount of skin on them. We contributed this to one of three things: either their potatoes are exceptionally small, these fries were from the bottom of the bucket, or they use the bigger (and mostly skin less) middle cut fries for their mashed potatoes. Either way, kudos on the good fries.

pictured: more booze

Somewhere in the middle of all this the waitress came over and asked if I’d like another drink. A fair question, given how uncharacteristically slow I had drunk my previous drink (it lasted longer than 5 minutes). I decided to try a pumpkin cocktail that was featured on the drink menu. I am a fan of spiced pumpkin flavors; given the chance I’ll always try anything pumpkin on a menu. The outside rim was cinnamon sugar, and from there on I couldn’t really describe the flavors. It was drinkable and good, but wasnt the pumpkin punch I was looking for. This is something I’ve had happen at other eateries, maybe its a new culinary trend? If so, foodies are idiots. Give me the sugary spicy fake pumpkin flavor any day. Have you ever HAD fresh pumpkin? Tastes like squash. AKA nothing. In light of this thought, maybe it was spot on. Anywho, the drink had booze in it, so I was happy.

In the name of the review I decided we should have a dessert, so as to present a full meal. And since I talked my non-egg loving friend into the deviled eggs, I conceded the apple cobbler though I hate cooked apples. When it arrived I must admit, pretty cute presentation.

I wasn’t a fan, but in all fairness I didn’t expect to be. I’m not a lover of the texture of cooked apple. I’m not the type of person to rip something just because I don’t like it (not when its Crow Hill anyways) so I’ll rely on my friend to give an unbiased assessment of the quality of apple cobbler. His response: “excellent, and the ice cream was very good, too.” Though he did follow that up with, “wait who is writing this fucking review BITCH!!!! YOU BIIIITCH!” so take it as you will. The ice cream. Oh the ice cream. I’m surprised he got even a bite. I didn’t like the cobbler, so I scrommed the hell out of the frozen dairy ball. It was Kilwins vanilla if im not mistaken, and I loved it. I did also enjoy getting little splashes of the cobbler “juice” on it. I probably would’ve enjoyed another dessert more, but in all actuality I was so full from the grits and eggs that I’m glad I didn’t eat much.

As far as rating Crow Hill, that’s easy. When I saw shrimp and grits on the menu at Crow Hill, I took a chance. I hate cooked apples yet I ordered the apple cobbler. And that’s exactly what a great restaurant should be: a place that gives you enough trust in it to branch out and try something new. Or retry something you had previously hated. After a few meals at Crow Hill, they have earned that trust and I would never hesitate to order anything off their menu. That’s something to respect in a place and for that reason I’m forced to judge them by how many shrimp tails were left on my plate that I wanted to suck clean.

(all of them)

Crow Hill on Urbanspoon

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