Cru Food and Wine Bar

Cru Food and Wine Bar, 9595 Six Pines Dr., Suite 650, The Woodlands, TX (Market Street)
Price: $$$ / $$$$$R Cru 2018
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Food: 4.0/5

Cru, a French term meaning growth but is generally taken to mean terroir or more specifically the quality of a wine grown and produced from a specific terroir. Premier Cru and Grand Cru terms are typically associated with outstanding to excellent quality wines from distinct geographic regions such as a top-level wine labeled Premier Cru from the Medoc region. Cru in Texas appears to be associated with copious choices for savoring tasty whites, bold reds, and all the colors in between; with and without bubbles.

Cru Food and Wine Bar, originally a Texas establishment, is slowly dispersing across the country and currently has 15 locations in the US; 10 in the Texas cities of Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston; 2 in Atlanta, Georgia; 2 in Denver, Colorado; and 1 in Lexington, Kentucky. Cru is dedicated to offering superb wines by glass and bottle along with a nice selection of California coastal style entrees and appetizers.

This is our first visit (7 March 2018) to Cru in The Woodlands.  My wife and I stopped in around 8 o’clock in the evening for a glass or two of wine and maybe a small bite of something tempting.  The bar and restaurant occupies a cozy little spot along the North Commons strip, across the street from the diminutive Central Park.  You have three options for seating: a patio for observing the street scene and people watching, an indoor bar and a few small indoor tables that by themselves seat 2-4 comfortably. The interior is tastefully done with blown-up wine labels decorating the back wall.  The interior space was clean and very quiet though there were only 3-4 couples seated around us. A casual and friendly atmosphere.

The waitress was very prompt greeting and seating us, and since it was our first visit, she was very pleasant in explaining the menu, which physically, was a thin wood panel with the food selections on one side and the wine by glass on the other.  I’m not sure who originated this type of menu but it sure is common, albeit nice, for wine bars all across the country.  They had a separate menu for libations and their extensive wine by the bottle offerings. The waitress continued to check in on us for orders and to see if all was well. The only small censure I had with the service was the visits to our table were a tad too spread out; 15-20 minute visit frequency, but I’m likely being overly critical.

W Valdisanti 2012While we studied the food menu we started off with a couple of glasses of a 2012 vintage Tolaini Valdisanti Tenuta S. Giovanni Toscana IGT from Tuscany, Italy at $20 per glass (I’m relying on my memory for the prices so I may be off a bit). A wonderful wine of dark fruits, full-bodied, well structured, with velvety tannins that leave you wanting more.  The wine is a red blend of 75%  Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, and 5% Cabernet Franc that I rate at 90, maybe 92.  The serpent in the wine glass is the universal symbol for St. John the Baptist, “San Giovanni”, and is also the name of the Italian vineyard from which the wine hails. This wine retails, if you can find it, for $22-30 per bottle.

We eventually decided to have a few small morsels of cheese to go with our wine.  They have 4 different “flights” of cheese boards that include 3 samples of various cheeses along with bread, grapes, sliced apple and pear. We chose the Chef’s Pick flight for $16 that consisted of Testun Ciuc, a bold Italian cheese aged in a wine barrel;  a sheep’s milk Pecorino Brillo, aged in Chianti; and a cow’s milk Cashel Blue, an Irish blue-veined cheese.  All were delicious but we really like the Testun Ciuc.  The powerful flavor paired well with the Tuscan wine.

Our visit was delightful and we will be back, especially to sample some of the more interesting items on their menu such as Lamb Lollipops with blue cheese and prosciutto, Salsiccia pizza topped with goat, roasted peppers and Italian sausage, or the Cast Iron Seared Sea Scallops with spinach parmesan risotto.  Their extensive wine offerings we didn’t even begin to scratch.  They offer an ever-changing selection of about 30 wines by the glass and around 10 times that amount by the bottle.  So little time to experience and enjoy, but we will persevere and try.


Obsession and Reality

The Searchers (Theaters-March 1956; Streaming-May 1999) Rated: PG  —  Runtime: 119 M Searchers 1956minutes

Genre: Adventure-Drama-Western

els – 8.0/10

IMDB – 8.0/10

Amazon – 4.0/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 8.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 4.0/5

Metacritic Metascore – NA/100

Metacritic User Score – NA/10

Awards: 1 Golden Globe

Directed by: John Ford

Written by: Frank S. Nugent (screenplay), Alan Le May (book)

Music by: Max Steiner

Cast: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, Natalie Wood

Film Locations: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Kayenta – Mexican Water – Monument Valley – Red Mesa – Teec Nos Pos, Arizona; Los Angeles – Culver City, CA; Aspen – Gunnison, Colorado; Goosenecks State Park – Mexican Hat, Utah; USA

Budget: $3,750,000

Worldwide Box Office: $NA (commercial success)

As Martha Edwards (Dorothy Jordan) looks out of her home onto a stretch of Texas scrub and hills, the camera, inside the house, framing her in the door from behind, watches as her long absent brother-in-law, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) slowly rides on his pony towards the ranch house. Ethan is coming home to his brother’s ranch in 1868, returning after 8 years of war; first as a confederate in the US Civil War and then as a mercenary in the Mexican Revolutionary War. He’s tired and wanting, needing, some peace in his life and to be once again near his secret love, Martha, his brother’s wife. With one night’s rest, Ethan and the rest of the Edward’s family are informed by a company of Texas Rangers that a Comanche raiding party has run off with a neighbor’s cattle. The Rangers, plus Ethan, go after the Indians to retrieve the cows. They soon realize that the theft was a ruse, to draw off the Rangers, with the real crime occurring back at the Edwards’ ranch.  Returning to the ranch they find the buildings burning, Ethan’s brother, wife and son dead, and their 2 young daughters missing, taken by the Comanche for wives and ransom. Ethan, his nephew Martin (Jeffery Hunter), and the Rangers, again set out to find the Indians and retrieve the girls.  Thus begins a five-year odyssey, searching for lost relations but knowing the girls innocence and maybe their lives are lost forever in the Texas hills of sand and scrub.

John Ford created, along with John Wayne, a movie that has transcended its time and its genre to become one of the greatest films ever made. His western landscapes of splendor and greatness have inspired directors ever since. The red sands and blue sky panoramas, the geometries of lines and curves are beyond human capacity to measure; we can only hold our breath and treasure the vision. Ford tells a somber story of a different time, an earlier time when the Comanche were terrorists, a time when the settlers were conquerors. He tells the story with little mercy; raw in emotion, yet, with a large dose of hope.  Roger Ebert believes Ford, in making this movie, was apologizing for the white settlers racism and ethnic cleansing. I believe John Ford knew his history and presented it as it was, maybe unpleasant, but real; not racism: living. The Comanche were battling for their home, their freedom, and in the end, their existence by any means possible, and those possibilities were brutal and savage.  The white settlers for battling for a new beginning, their freedom, their families, their future; and their methods were brutal and savage.

Ethan Edwards was likely John Wayne’s greatest challenge as an actor. A part that wasn’t in his “good guy, tough guy” repertoire. A part where he’s a grim and dark loner, an outcast that has lived too much of his life on the losing side. A part where he still believes in himself, exemplified by the classic line, “That’ll be the day.”, but were time has passed him by and he struggles to find himself; trying to feed an obsession that exists in the past while the world has moved on.  He’s the toughest guy, capable of making the toughest choices but very slowly gaining an appreciation for nuance, for the shades of gray in his black and white world, a world that is constantly testing his beliefs. John Wayne rises to this challenge and produces a character in all the dimensions of good, bad, and yes, ugly, that usually don’t materialize in him or his movies.

In the final scene, the camera focuses on the outdoors from the inside of a house, a door with its straight lines, framing the ill lit inside against the bright outside.  John Wayne, with his back to the camera, steps outside, pauses, and then starts walking away. Wayne as Ethan Edwards, always on the outside but maybe, in the end the stark outline of his shadow is gentler, softer, more at peace with his soul.

This movie is a classic and most likely the greatest Western ever made. Interestingly it keeps rising up the ranking lists with the passing of time, as it should. This is a movie to judge as it was, a chronicle of the past, not an apology, and certainly not a testament to our present.

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