Restaurant Review: Crush Sports Cafe

If you’ve read my previous reviews, the last thing you would expect from me is to review a sports bar. I’ve done genre/lifestyle specific restaurants (G-Zen/Uncle Willie’s BBQ), high-end restaurants that have the chef’s name under the name of the place (Parallel Post – a Chef Dean James Max eatery!), or semi-popular takeout places (Layla’s). So if I am going to spend some time at a sports bar, there has to be a good reason because in 2013, everyone has a nice, big screen TV at home and it’s far cheaper to go to your local grocer to get a 24 pack, a bag of Tostitos and some salsa.

That being said, Crush Sports Cafe in Milford, CT completely justifies your trip outside to watch a game because it delivers a dining, drinking and entertainment experience you can’t replicate at home. In business for a little over a year, Crush sets itself completely apart from the other gimmicky sports places (rhymes with “Ruffalo Child Things”) by having better food, better drinks and most importantly, decor that doesn’t make you embarrassed to be inside the place.

Located within walking distance from downtown, Crush may be the only sports bar I’ve ever been to where you don’t even need to care about sports to enjoy it. Before we get to that part though, I should note that if you are going to watch a game, Crush has TVs everywhere (over 20 by my count — two projection screens and no set smaller than 40 inches), pool tables, the standard Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter games and dart boards, fulfilling every sports and game related experience you would want. An important note about this – the TVs are actually well laid out, with entire walls filled up and strategically placed sets elsewhere so you can turn your head to the side and watch the same game on the set in front of you. I went during March Madness and every available game was shown on at least four TV’s throughout the place. Crush also has seemingly every add on cable sports package, so your almost certain to catch your team play, even if they are on the other side of the country.

Now that we have the entertainment part out of the way, let’s get to the food and beverage, where Crush really stands out. Like I mentioned before, everyone has a big TV, so if I’m going to a sports bar they have to be well stocked with a diverse selection of beer/wine/spirits and the food has to be a class above the standard greasy fair. Since Crush is operated by owners of Citrus (also in downtown Milford), the food is nothing short of excellent.  The effort put into the menu is worth it, as you can get everything from the standard nachos (with choice of steak, chicken or chorizo chili, jack and cheddar cheese, salsa fresca, guacamole, sour cream and pickled jalapeños) to mini short rib tacos (an excellent combo of tender pulled rib meat dressed with soy BBQ, with sweet and sour slaw and fresh jalapeños sliced so thin you don’t even taste the spice) to fusili mac and cheese with cheddar and andouille sausage that’s the diametric opposite of the usual salty from the box standard.

Beyond the apps, Crush has what may be the best burger in the area (the Crush burger, with either Angus or spiced black bean veggie on a buttery bun and endless toppings that range from the usuals to a fried egg, braised short ribs and avocado), Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwiches, to a NY strip steak with garlic mashed potatoes and a red wine demi glaze. The menu is both high end in taste and creation with a surprisingly low price point for items, with apps ranging from $6 to $9 and entrees, salads and sandwiches ranging from $8 to $22 for your steaks and seafood. The menu is so good that a few patrons I spoke to come exclusively for the food and not the games. With banquette seating in the dining area, Crush is a good place to have a nice sit down dinner as much as it’s a place to grab apps and watch the game.

For alcohol, Crush is well stocked with eight beers on tap (Bud Light, Bass, Red Hook, Sierra Nevada, Guinness, Seasonal Sam Adams, Shock Top and Harp), plenty more in bottles, a Martini list and a shockingly good wine selection for a sports bar. Drink specials include dollar off drinks during their 4 P.M. to 7 P.M. Happy Hour, $15 domestic and $17.50 import buckets of beer and $3 Bud Light Drafts.

Overall I recommend Crush enough for anyone, sports fans or not. The food is well priced, well thought-out, and high end, there are plenty of choices for alcohol.  They book bands during the fall/winter months (spring and summer is more geared to their outside patio scene), the staff is super friendly and most importantly good at what they do (they were at almost maximum capacity and no one waited long for their food or drinks), and in what is a nice surprise, it looks classy. Unlike the usual “jerseys hung up with no rhyme and reason” style, Crush has tasteful look inside, with marble bar tops, family style seating and a well placed selection of sports memorabilia. Go to Crush for the sporting experience, but be sure to try the diverse menu and drinks.

Crush Sports Cafe is located at 1015 Bridgeport Ave, Milford, CT.