Senor Santa Cruz seems to have really made an effort on this venue. He teamed up with some more designers and qualified collaborators so as to build an impressive restaurant – the main floor, the pre-dining bar, the terrace. You can be sure of the uniqueness of the food menu, the cocktails and even the appearance of the staff.
However, all this may sound very respectful while indeed it is rather too much influx of elaboration on the nobleness of Casa Cruz. My concern is mainly with the excessive amount of copper; I imagine that Argentina has acclaimed Mr Santa Cruz as an honorary citizen and on this occasion the country decided to send all of the copper in the territory to London with him. Starting with the main door – a massive and a bit heavy shiny copper work where you can check I your smile is spotless. After you enter the main floor the tendency continues with the as shiny as the door copper wall panels circling the large copper bar in the center. Climbing to the terrace things get a bit more balanced due to the calm wood seating and wire sculptures but the case is definitely not the same if you stop by the loos and find yourself unnaturally anxious by the fact that you see too many reflections of yourself in the peculiarly positioned mirrors all around you…
I don’t want to judge too harshly, the décor is after all obviously stylish, it just lacks something familiar and earthy to break the ice – reportedly, Juan Santa Cruz has started developing this place with the idea of making it exquisite yet home-like for its visitors; the kind of cold and distant feeling all the metal leaves is in way of that idea fulfilling, of course this does not mean Casa Cruz is tawdry designed.
Maybe the vibe could turn a little warmer with an improvement with the staff’s appearance too. The massive copper door is accompanied by a bowler-hatted doorman who pretty much allows you to foresee the inside of the restaurant. A lot of money have been spent on dressing the staff which also contributes to the feeling of a Dorian Gray kind of dinner rather than a home experience. Moreover, people argue whether the service is good enough in Casa Cruz – I have heard some complaints on waiters which do not respond to all requests or fail to inform you of something on the menu/seating/bar but personally, I left pleased with the service.
And now moving to the main feature of a restaurant – food. The kitchen in Casa Cruz tends to keep things simple – the dishes are not too fancy with recipes from another planet which leave you wondering what exactly you have just ordered. All the products used are of good quality, do not contain many carbs and your waiter will likely inform you that no meal is cooked with butter or oil, the kitchen is equipped with the magical Josper Grill and your healthy dinner is guaranteed.
The starters at Casa Cruz are either raw or cold – for example charred beetroots with horseradish or wild bass with cucumber, rapeseed oil and lime. I know it sounds too raw and therefore a bit tasteless but when you try the dishes it is worth it – at least for some people’s preferences.
After these comes the main course – you can choose from three fish and three meat meals, all of which are seared, grilled or roasted. The meat with which meals are prepared is indeed Argentinian and is delivered trough Belgium making the menu really authentic. Keep in mind though that main courses come without a side dish and to really have a decent dinner and take a journey trough the spicy cuisine of Argentina you have to order some side dishes. And with this detail the price of this whole experience seems a bit excessive – you expect that when a meal costs around £25 you shouldn’t have to pay £8 more for corn…Still, try out the side dishes – charred broccoli with chili and almonds, spicy mashed corn, crudités with a horseradish dip and many more. Some of them are truly peculiar, have too much dressing, too much salt or too much of a weird touch like coconut but I cannot talk about these detail, maybe Argentinians love such tastes and maybe even not only they do. Some of the most popular meals in Casa Cruz are the grass-fed Argentinian rib-eye steak, the spiced corn I mentioned and the deserts…
What I like most about Casa Cruz’s food are namely the deserts. All the ingredients throughout the night were significantly fresh, ripe and energising (although some were too smoked) but the sweet treats really made my dinner with their calming delicious tastes. You can find several puddings with various types of dulce de leche or stick to favourite fruits – melon, pineapple and berries.
I should also mention that if you have to wait for a table or simply want to prepare for dinner with a drink in your hand, the bar in Casa Cruz offers surprisingly well made cocktails for a venue that is not a club. The bartender is chill and will do his best to provide you with the best choice for you and even though the price of a cocktail is as high as in the best cocktail bars you know, I advise you to give them a try.
Another option for the time passing before you find a table or before you reach the peak of your appetite is to perch on Casa Cruz’s terrace – the more mildly designed and affable part of the restaurant. It is mainly visited by the smokers in the venue but finding a smoke-free spot is not such a tough task.
Aside from photos of Casa Cruz I would very much like to show you their menu but I can’t deny that the restaurant’s website is not as impressive as expected. Who knows, maybe senor Santa Cruz would one day decide to become a web designer too and develop it a bit as well. The best way to make up your mind about this dazzling venue is to book a table in advance and head to the mighty copper door on Clarendon Road. Good luck!