My wife and I had been meaning to check out Crave for some time. We're both foodies and enjoy discovering new, interesting places to eat. So we were excited to try Crave's take on raw fish. Unfortunately our dinner was a massively underwhelming experience. Here's a dish-by-dish review:
1. Colossal Lump Crab - interesting start to the meal. The crab meat was fresh and flavorable. The accompanying sauce was good too, especially the okra pieces. However, the sauce overpowered the crab meat completely with its strong flavors. The dish also came with sticky rice which was utterly pointless. It was a completely incongruous dish - disappointing start.
2. Bread and Butter Ceviche - quite possibly one of the worst-conceived dishes I have had in my life. The bread was hard and soaked in a mild broth (hence the term Ceviche - there's no actual ceviche in the dish). what took the dish to the realm of the inedible was the dab of goat butter on the bread. whatever the Chef was trying to achieve here, he failed spectacularly. utter waste of $7.
1. Chatham Bay Codh Fish - another incongruous dish. Good, fresh fish, decent sauce, but when you put it all together, its a disaster, especially the addition of spiced popcorn. I will give points to the Chef, for originality, but beyond that, it was the third failure of the night.
2. Kona Kampachi Yellow Sour Curry - tired boring dish. The broth tasted like it was made from Tom Yum mix. The fish, again fresh and flavorful, yet again suffered from poor presentatio. I would've much preferred the fish without the broth. Not worth the $15.50 price tag.
Bottom line: the Chef is out of his depth here. All the dishes lacked refinement in flavor and construction. The seafood was fresh but was wasted on experimental combinations which just did not work. As a ceviche bar, I would've liked to have seen more straightforward presentations of ceviche instead of the fusiony glop they served us.
On the positive side, service was friendly and attentive. Wine pours were generous. Beyond that, I see no reason to return - despite the fact that they are expanding. Popularity is as much a function of the quality of food served as location, I guess. Midtown east is clearly lacking in funky, fusiony restaurants, a niche that Crave has filled well......for the timebeing. But without better quality dishes to back itself up, an expansion might just result in Crave's downfall.