Last week, the Crosby in downtown SanTana reopened after a week of remodeling. Out went the bookcases and mini-lounge; in went more tables. A new, massive DJ stand, more lectern than turntable holder, is near the front. And chef Aron Habiger has ditched the Crosby's longtime menu of pizzas, pastas and other safe meals to follow his ambitious, talented chops.
The menu remains the playful, delicious mix of Asian, American and Latino influences that characterizes the Crosby. "Egg rolls" have entered the menu, but they're really monstrous lumpias, crunchy and sweet. The dish shown above is shrimp sautéed in butter, but it's really a Southeast Asian take on camarones al mojo de ajo--massive shrimp in liquefied butter spiked with garlic, lemongrass and shavings of kaffir lime leaves. The mojo de ajo part is as sweet and overwhelming as anything in Little Havana; the lemongrass should be more pronounced. But the stunner is the kaffir lime leaves: Their bitter, verdant flash doesn't sneak up until the end of your bite, snapping you back into life. Couple this with the soft flesh of the shrimp, and this is a dish best shared among four, lest you contract gout from its lovely richness.
Even better is the Crosby Cristo.
|Apologies for the shot, but the lighting was bad, and I was on my second stiff Manhattan . . .|
Habiger featured some of the best egg-battered bread I've ever tried: puffy, crunchy, moist, sweet. The Brie added saltiness; the mushrooms, umami. The touch of prosciutto is welcome, but it was a bit too salty, and Habiger agreed--it's the restaurant's first week for the third time, after all.
I'm not a complete fan of the Crosby's changes, though. Gone are the amazing happy-hour specials, save for sweet-potato fries. The "flatbreads" are really the old pizzas, now smaller by a third. Habiger scratched his rotating chef's menu, electing to change items at his whim. But if Habiger whipped up a meal from roadkill, I'd try it--just don't get any ideas, Aron. . . .
400 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA