CRU has been on my vegan bucket list for what feels like an eternity. There are so many amazing vegan restaurants on the east side but I am so rarely over there that I have phonebook sized list of places to eat when I make the schlep. So this weekend, when I trekked it over to Los Feliz to hang with my friend Zandy, going to CRU was pretty much obvious, especially since my meat loving friend adores it there. A meat lover raving about a raw food restaurant? Pretty mayjah. And it was indeed.
1521 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Hours: Mon-Sun 12 pm – 4:30 pm, Mon-Sun 5:30 pm – 10 pm
Nestled in the arts district of Silver Lake, CRU is a small comfy intimate dining experience perfect for a weekend dinner. CRU serves mainly raw cuisine but features a few cooked dishes on their nightly specials menu. Strict vegans be warned some dishes contain honey, but I eat honey so for me this wasn’t an ish.
Since Zandy knows CRU’s menu pretty well I let him take the reins and order a bunch of things for us to split. Our lovely waitress was also super knowledgeable and helpful about what to choose for a first time CRUer like myself. We started with the Pure Raw Sugar Cane Juice which Zandy assured me was gonna blow my damn mind. I’ve seen this drink pop up at juice bars and in Whole Foods next to the Kombucha recently so my interest was already piqued. When it arrived at our table I was surprised to see that the drink was bright green. I had no idea that this juice was bursting with natural chlorophyll, and being the lover of all things green that I am, I was even more excited to squeeze in my lime wedge and get into it.
Pure Raw Sugar Cane Juice - Alkalinzing and high in chlorophyll. Raw sugar cane juice, chilled and served with a lime wedge
Okay I don’t even now where to start. This was so good I practically fell off my chair and started screaming. Screaming! I pulled out my iphone to take notes to try to remember how to describe it. Here’s what I wrote mid-juice sugar daze: “Grassy, sweet, drinking the earth plus sugar from the God’s bosom.” Pretty effing accurate. I’d make the trip back just to get that drink again. This is an absolute MUST ORDER.
Next our appetizer came, the Mezze Platter, which I was pretty stoked about because it featured so many different little tastes of things. That’s kind of my jam since it gives you an opportunity to taste a bunch of different flavors.
Mezze Platter - Flax and pumpkin seed crackers, rubbed garlicky kale, tunisian apple beet salad, fig pate, cucumber taziki, kalamata olives and cashew cheese
Holy bananas was this good. The cashew cheese and the beet salad were my favorites on the plate, but everything was so well done, bursting with flavor. The cheese was just outta control though, by far one of the best cashew cheeses I have had. ICBIND (I can’t believe it’s not dairy). The only thing not 10 outta 10 bomb was the fig pate. It was just eh. Even sothis dish rocked the house. This is a perfect app to split, highly recommend.
Next our salad came, which was CRU’s take on a taco salad but with kale instead of romaine. YESSSSSSS.
Taco Salad - Rubbed kale, pumpkin seed chorizo, salsa, guacamole, sprouts, Peruvian mojo sauce and cashew sour cream.
I DIEEEEEEEEEEEE. This was my fav of the night. This could actually be my favorite kale salad I’ve ever had. I don’t know what they are working with in terms of dressing (tasted like lemon and olive oil) but for some reason it’s just the most perfectly dressed and massaged kale I have ever had. The kale was so tender, not at all bitter, and of course the acutrimounts were absurdly good. That pumpkin seed chorizo, are you serious??? OMFGGGGG. Amazing guac, fab salsa and the medly of sauces just brought it all home. I could eat this every day of my life and be happy. MUST MUST MUST ORDER.
Now it was entrée time, and CRU’s famous raw lasagna was about to happen. It arrived and we dove in.
Vegetable Lasagna - A delicate terrine of thinly sliced zucchini, pesto, marinara, cashew cheese, and marinated portabello mushrooms. Topped with coconut cream and served with mixed greens tossed in pumpkin seed pesto dressing.
There’s something about a zucchini lasagna that is so refreshing. Instead of using traditional noodles, zucchini is thinly sliced and layered between the other marinara, cheese and vegetable layers, for a somewhat lighter take on the Italian staple. I love ordering this dish at different raw restaurants because you can’t really can’t mess it up. Sun Cafe and Planet Raw have their own delicious versions as well, but CRU’s was its own brand of awesome.
The pesto was perfection on this and the cashew cheese was of course incredible. Let’s not fail to acknowledge the side salad too, which was UH-mazing. I don’t know how CRU manages to make their greens taste like heaven in a bowl, but by golly they certainly do. This is a great dish to order if you are newer to raw foods as well. Two thumbs way up.
Even though we were pretty full (raw food is filling ya’ll!) we had to order dessert, obvi. I surprisingly was not in a chocolate mood (so weird) so we let the waitress help us decide from the crazy list of delectable sounding non-chocolate dessert options. We decided to go with their blueberry cheesecake and I am so happy we did.
Blueberry Cheesecake with Creme Fraiche - A smooth and creamy cashew coconut cheesecake with fresh pureed strawberries, fresh whole blueberries and a walnut date crust. Topped with a rich coconut creme fraiche.
This cake was bonkers. I loved the huge chunks of whole blueberries right in the pie. The crust was sweet and crumbly and the cake itself was a decadent rich and creamy indulgence. I just love the simplicity of raw desserts. These cakes and pies are so nutrient dense and usually super rich and filling due to the large amount of nuts and coconut oil used (good fats but clearly not an everyday indulgence). Even though highly caloric, because they are made exclusively from raw whole foods, our body can process these treats completely differently and more effectively than their non-raw vegan equivalents (I’m talking to you Cheesecake Factory).
By the end of our meal I was stuffed and ready to be rolled home to bed. I tend to over do it when I go to new restaurants. Whatever. Totally worth it.
All in all I HIGHLY recommend CRU. Utilize the very knowledgable waitress (or other wait staff), order the cane juice, make sure to get something with kale, and BYOB if you like (this and Elf are BYOB so rad!). I will 150% come back here again. Next time def trying one of their specials and the CRU pizza.
East side of LA, you’re lookin better every day.
Your Vegan Girlfriend