Akron, Ohio      Date of Visit: 09/10/11 

We have been planning on going here for some time and the stars all aligned and we showed up as they unlocked the doors at five since there was no way to make reservations before they opened…they should really work that out. The space is pretty chic with lots of glass that is reminiscent of Chihuly adorned spaces in Vegas and other parts of the world. Our server appeared a little disinterested but was knowledgeable and efficient. There were a couple of things right off the bat that had me both worried and a little disgusted. The gnats and the fly that spent a significant portion our perusal of the menu, not too bad. The fact that they were probably attracted by the paper menus themselves was what really bothered me. Tattered, stained, obviously handled by more patrons that I cared to imagine; the bugs seemed to think they smelled delicious.



Goat Cheese Cake...Complex and Competing Flavors End Up Complimenting

The downside was I had the smell of Purell wafting from my hands with every bite. I know times are tight but at some point you are going to cost yourself way more return business than it would cost you to sort, toss and replace at least the most disgusting menus.

So are they cutting corners on the plate as well? We went out of our way to be sure. We ordered the goat cheese cake, steak skewers, a catfish poboy, ahi tuna, “turducken”, and a couple of desserts. The place has always been described to me as a tapas theme with lots of small plates. Some sections of the menu are smaller options but we quickly found out it’s not true of the entire menu…about a half an hour later I had that sick stuffed feeling, my fault, not theirs. The goat cheese cake harkened to memories of the appetizer at Pub Bricco with some significant differences. The tomato sauce wasn’t spicy at Crave and the goat cheese was studded with calamata olives which, with the pesto and garlicky bread made for a complex and outstanding dish. Even Steph didn’t mind the olives in the dish which is quite an accomplishment…I haven’t figured out how to manage that at home.

Steak Skewers and Smoked Gouda Fondue

Catfish Poboy...Everything is Getting Bigger!

The steak was char grilled and glazed with Guinness (for strength) and garlic. Large chunks of beef at a nice mid rare, the glaze was a little much but was easily tempered by the little cup of smoked gouda cheese fondue. Another hit.

Thinking the tuna and chicken plates would be much smaller we ordered a poboy to split. Blackend and polenta crusted catfish (a whole filet) sat atop crusty bread and was adorned with a mustard remoulade, andouille and cherry pepper relish and three fried oysters. The fish was a little mealy which was a disappointment but the blackening spice at Crave was made by El Diablo! One notch above serious kick which was too much heat for Steph but I found appropriately subdued by the remoulade. Thick cut fries with rosemary and sea salt and a burger set completed the plate. Some of the fries were also a little mealy but those that weren’t had stupendous flavor. The sandwich overall was good but shy of great.


Not A Turducken but Pretty Good

Exciting and Delicious Combinations with the Tuna

I ordered the “turducken” and while it was miles away from what I know turducken to be, it was overall pretty good as well. A pan seared airline (little wingy still attached) chicken breast rested atop an andouille and havarti Cajun cornbread stuffing and a dose of roasted garlic, mustard and Madeira gravy. Piping hot, nice flavor combinations and a rich and unique gravy made for a nice dish even if it’s description is faulty. Good again. The real winner of the night was the tuna, seared rare and crusted with Macadamia nuts. High quality ingredients accompanied by wasabi mashers, pickled ginger and a spicy peanut sauce. The mashers were very green with wasabi and it was reflected in the flavor. I suspect they are paying for real wasabi instead of the bogus powdered variety as there are notes of heat, florals, and much more complexity than the manufactured stuff. The puddle of sauce and exceptionally done veggies resulted in a complete and balanced dish that never tired on the palate. Superior top to bottom.

Rangy Flavored Creme Brulee

Surprisingly Great Red Eye Bread Pudding

Stuffed. Way stuffed. Both of us. We had already picked desserts before ordering anything else. When our server returned to offer desserts we stared at each other for a second…wearily…knowing what was coming. We ordered the crème brulee and the Red Eye bread pudding. The custard was flavored with Strawberry, Port wine and Rosemary. Okay…. Fabulous. The rosemary wasn’t hidden at all, it really stood out against the berry and wine, but in a remarkable way. Sweet but counterbalanced by the notes of wine and spice, pudding smooth, really nice. The bread pudding was studded with white chocolate and infused with espresso and bourbon. A slowly melting peach cream ice cream oozed into the thick block of bread and fruity sauces underneath. Rich, filling (my Lord filling) with a garnish of almond infused sugar (the only part I didn’t care for) it was a great last bite to remind me why I was groaning as my stomach sent berating signals to my brain. Actually, way worth it. Some basic things need attention but overall, when it comes down to the meal, Crave was a fundamental success.




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