Crave. What a disappointment.
So, for reasons unknown, my partner and I had never managed to eat at Crave. We've been living in the neighborhood for years, and after hitting most of the other gems around the 'hood, thought "Gosh darnit why haven't we eaten here???"
Other foodie friends have said that Dine-in Brooklyn is generally of a finer quality than Restaurant Week in Manhattan. As a rule, we avoid anything but lunch for Restaurant Week because dinner seems always to be a debacle. (Please explain why a steakhouse would serve anyone a well-done steak when they ordered rare, and expect them to come back and pay more?)
I was a-twitter with excitement. Unfortunately, nothing except the wine list lived up to our hopes.
When we entered, the host sat us promptly -- a good accomplishment, as the 6pm seating was just finishing up, and the size of the restaurant does not lend it to much donning-of-coats or shuffling-of-chairs.
However, he came over to our table not once but twice -- the second time with another server -- to confirm my name and to inform us that we might not be in the right table.
Excuse me???? YOU sat me here. And there are only 9 tables. Could it possibly matter which of the two-tops we sit at?
We ordered wine and were served promptly, and enjoyed some delicious flat-bread infused with fennel. Nice texture, good amount of crunch, not too crumbly. While it took awhile to order, we don't mind taking our time with an aperitif. No biggie.
Unfortunately, it did take a remarkably long time for our appetizers to arrive. That was forgiven by the deliciousness of the shrimp spring rolls, and the satisfactory-ness of the butternut squash soup w/ bacon foam. But (wo)man cannot live on spring roll or soup alone.
My partner ordered the porkloin. It was over-cooked. The curry glaze was haphazardly brushed on seconds before serving, and the plate dotted with streaks of some sauce. As the streaks were too fine to actually allow removal from plate to tongue (at first we thought the plate had a trace of old food caked on it), we're not sure if it was for decoration alone. The celeraic puree was divine, but the lima beans so overcooked they were rubbery and crunchy at the same time. Quite an accomplishment, I must say, but not a pleasant one.
But let's get back to the point at hand -- in a 19-seat restaurant that does three seatings (6pm, 8pm, 10pm) and has a solid staff of 3 behind the plexiglass window of the kitchen, HOW is it possible that you deserve rave reviews when you cannot cook pork???
And if you cannot cook pork, why SERVE pork?
I would have overlooked some of the presentation issues I had as a matter of taste....more MoMA than I usually like, but if taste follows form, I'm always excited. This was not the case with my vegetable plate.
After fantabulous experiences with Chestnut's vegetarian entrees and at Counter, I've become very interested in what chefs can do with veggies. Crave's chef is capable of dicing up mirepoix, stuffing it into a zucchini (not the grey squash referenced on the menu) and serving it with some oily long beans and a decorative smear of sweet potato puree (which had a nice texture, but was baby-food bland).
Why not a mushroom something (like the enoki-foam advertised with the trout) to jazz it up? Why such a SAD spatter of "pesto oil"? I could not detect anything vaguely pesto-ish in the little green dot that sat rather sullenly on the corner of my plate. Celery was the dominant note of the plate, and while I like celery, I like other things with celery more.
The veggies were cooked to perfect texture, I will grant you that.
Dessert was a speck of light -- his chocolate panna cotta was positively silky and formidably delicious. The banana ice cream it was served with did, freakishly, taste like banana Now-N-Laters, which I thought was fun. But the guava puree was a thumbprint (I kid you not) on the far edge of the plate. Seemed like a visually interesting move, but made transference of the tiny smudge to the dessert complicated.
My dessert....eh. Celeraic cake sounded very interesting. It was interesting the way banana bread crossed with a blondie but made with celery is interesting. A dense, gooey cold (yes served cold) chunk of not-too-sweet, not-too-savory, not-too....oh-wait-theres-a-hint-of-celery way.
It's sidekick, a scoop of peanut butter ice cream, was to die for. I mean seriously, I'd buy it by the pint.
Other than the initial service hiccup, no complaints. Everything moved smoothly. But would we ever crave anything we had? Only the peanut butter ice cream.
Would love to hear from other's who tried the DIB menu, and on contrasting experiences with the regular menu.
Funny this should come up. I used to love Crave, but have found it to be declining in quality over the past year.
I haven't had the DIB menu this year, but I did have it last year and thought it was fabulous. We went back several times over the summer and in the fall and enjoyed the food particularly the spring rolls and the pasta dishes.
However, the few times we've been in there this year, we've been disappointed. The food doesn't have the same great flavors it used to have -- it seems flatter, and I agree that the service seems less professional. Our waiter last time was perfectly nice, but he was VERY chatty to the point where he was interrupting conversations to tell us about his day.
Also agree that their wine list remains very good.
I wonder if there's been a change in ownership lately?