Friday, December 06, 2013

Kruse & Muer at The Village

Being new to the area and being Chowhounds, one of the first things Jeannene and I did was look for promising restaurants. We've found scads of family restaurants and coney islands, but not a whole lot yet in terms of independent restaurants specializing in fine dining featuring seasonal menus. Kruse and Muer, which seems to be a local chain with menu variations from location to location, looked fairly promising. 

We stopped by the one at The Village in Rochester Hills a couple weeks ago, but the wait was more than we were prepared to do that night. Last night, after spending a pleasant evening poking around Busch's grocery, Trader Joe's (have to put in a plug for their candy cane green tea here), and Whole Foods (St. Nicholas left candy canes that look remarkably similar to their organic ones in our shoes last night and they are wonderful!), we tried Kruse and Muer again. This time, at 8:30 p.m., we were seated immediately and saw why the wait had been so long before.

The restaurant appears to be split between take-out and dine-in, with a quite petite seating area. Despite the small size, it's a comfortable dining room. Our waiter was very personable (aside from the grimace upon hearing we were from Ohio---oh, those team rivalries! It made me wish I was wearing my scarlet & gray) and made some great recommendations. 

We started with a split cup of really great New England style clam chowder, thick, creamy, generous with tender clams. It was touted as being from James Beard's recipe and a bowl could make a very nice meal with a salad on the side. They also brought us fresh, seasoned baguette, hot from the oven. It was good, but not as good as the crack bread from Lucky's Steakhouse in Imlay City. I don't know if poppy seed sprinkled bread is a Michigan thing, but I am definitely digging it. Thankfully, I was able to stop at a small amount of the Kruse & Muer version.

This left me plenty of room for a truly gorgeous piece of red snapper. My grandparents always, always ordered red snapper on our Florida vacations when I was a kid and it remains one of my favorites. I was torn between that and the lemon-crumb-crusted scrod. Since the scrod is on the permanent menu, I opted for the snapper, grilled and served with a delicate, but decidedly lemony caper buerre blanc. It tasted fresh and was cooked perfectly.

 My fish came with rice pilaf, but they were kind enough to allow me to sub, for a small upcharge, the macaroni and cheese. I'd seen the word "Tillamook" and that was too enticing to pass up. Sadly, it fell into the saucy rather than the gooey category of mac & cheese. Had I ordered penne Alfredo, I'd've been delighted. However, the cheese was scarcely discernible and the sauce was mostly pooled at the bottom of the dish, anyway. The vegetables, on the other hand, were delicious. Rather than the tired, and often overcooked, medley of carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, there were some more interesting veggies like winter squashes and parsnips added. They were, again, cooked just right, until tender but not complete mush.

Jeannene had the twin filets marsala, topped with beautiful portabello mushrooms and nestled in a pool of rich sauce. Her food, too, was just at the desired degree of doneness. I found her mashed potatoes good, but a tad loose & just a bit bland, not as good as my own. They had that odd shiny surface you sometimes see, too. I'm not sure what produces that. Could be a mark of high quality mashed potatoes, but it always gives me the heebies just a smidge.

For dessert, Jeannene was disappointed that the bread pudding contained the dread raisins. She loves bread pudding, but never with raisins. So, we split a martini-glass-ful of chocolate mousse. I am invariably disappointed by chocolate mousse anywhere but The Winds Cafe. They have forever ruined me for it with their sumptuous and dark version that utilizes Scharffen Berger chocolate and KahlĂșa. This was something else entirely, but good. Purely sweet, gorgeously creamy, almost plump, in fact. In the middle was a pouf of whipped cream, the real deal and unsweetened. For not-the-Winds' mousse, it was pretty good mousse. I think a nice espresso would probably have cut the purity of the sweetness well. It was kind of like reading good chick lit when you've been on a Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler jag. You need something a little dark to appreciate fully the sweetness and light.

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