Blaine, Spring Lake Park, Circle Pines, Coon Rapids: Lend me your ears, I have important news! What has to be one of the best restaurants to ever open north of Interstate 694 has arrived in a strip mall off Central Avenue and 103rd Avenue. Okay, yes, yes, it’s got lousy strip-mall views, of an Arby’s. But don’t hold that against it.
It’s called Restaurant Cru, named after its strong wine program (it’s a sister business to the local wine shop Tournament Liquor). But the food is the real thrill here. I think my favorite dish was a sublimely rustic and creamy pork terrine, made from local pork and built in such a way that each slice glowed with bright orange islands of plump apricots. Add a little mustard, a little warm bread, and a glass of wine from the admirable wine list, and—voilà! You’re eating better than the average Parisian.
No, I’m going to change my mind about my favorite dish. It was the house-made ravioli, filled with locally produced Donnay chèvre and served on a generous mound of beef given a rich Bolognese treament such that it was more than a sauce but more elegant than mere grilled meat, like some gilded, novel upside-down beef Bolognese. Each bite unites the rich, potent, and profound flavors such that you start off with one to share with your date, but then decide you can’t share and order a second.
Okay, I’m changing my mind again. The ravioli and the terrine are from the restaurant’s menu of small plates to share, but if I lived in Blaine my favorite thing would be one of Cru’s $20-or-so three-course prix fixe meals. A recent $19 menu included a salad of blue cheese and mizuna (a peppery, tart, crisp green), smoked chicken with grilled radicchio in a grainy mustard-cream sauce, and Sebastian Joe’s ice cream.
This astonishingly good food is courtesy of chef Robert Moore, who migrated to Blaine after a five-year stint at the locavore standard-bearer in St. Paul, Heartland. Before that, Moore spent six years at Minneapolis’s fine-dining white-tablecloth treasure, Goodfellows. Is Anoka County ready for food this good? If you live there and you say yes, I say go now. And I’m not going to change my mind about that one.
10340 Baltimore St. NE, Blaine
Open Monday–Tuesday 3 p.m.–10 p.m.; Wednesday–Saturday 3 p.m.–12 a.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.–10 p.m.