While in the Twin Cities recently for a dealer event, I ended up taking the dealer out for dinner at a contemporary American restaurant called Crave. I had certainly never heard of the place before, but I'm glad that he made the suggestion.
Crave is a three restaurant local chain in the Twin Cities that features eclectic American cuisine in a vibrant atmosphere. Owners Kam and Keyvan Talebi opened their first Crave in the Galleria in Edina in 2007 (see map). The concept went over so well that they opened a second location at Mall of America earlier this year (see map). And just before I ate at Crave that one evening earlier this fall, they had just opened a third location at the brand new upscale Shops at West End in St. Louis Park (see map). They are also exploring expansion into Scottsdale, AZ and Las Vegas.
The executive chef for Crave is Eli Woolenzian and he's based at the original Edina location - the one we ate at that one evening. Woolenzian has come up with an innovative menu that features beef, fish and seafood, pasta and spectacular appetizers. Crave also features sushi and features a small sushi bar at the front of the restaurant.
We didn't have a reservation - and it was a Friday night - so our wait for a table was going to be an hour. We ended up sitting at the bar and a number of patrons were having appetizers with drinks. A couple next to us had Crave's signature appetizer, seared scallops - lightly breaded diver scallops in a picatta beurre sauce and then quickly seared. My guest and I decided to skip an appetizer and concentrate on a good dinner. We drank about four Summit Extra Pale Ales while we waited for our table.
After about 45 minutes, our little "saucer" began to vibrate and light up. We found the hostess and we were seated in Crave's open and contemporary dining room. I looked through Crave's modest, yet impressive wine list to see if there was anything that caught my eye. There was. They had a 2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon that was priced at a very reasonable $75 bucks. I'd seen bottles of this same wine at over $100. I had to get that.
My guest told me that the pasta dishes were outstanding. However, I'm still shying away from pasta as part of my weight-loss maintenance. One of the pasta entrees that caught my eye was Crave's fettuccine with chicken, bacon and roasted mushrooms in a cream sauce. Oh, man! That just sounded great. My guest ended up ordering the roasted red pepper and penne pasta with roasted chicken. One of the unique things that Crave does - and I wish more restaurants would - is that they give you an option of a full order or a half order of pasta. My guest took the half order mainly, he said, because it was so rich.
Although they had something called a "Crab-crusted Filet Mignon" on the menu that sounded sinfully good, I went pretty basic. I got the grilled rib eye with a side of straw potatoes. Asparagus came with the entree, but since I've been very careful since my gout flare-ups after my surgery, I asked if I could get a substitute. She mentioned cauliflower - another no-no when it comes to gout. She said, "Well, how about broccoli?" That works. We both went with a small Caesar salad as an opener.
Crave was understandably busy that evening. There was a small jazz combo playing that added to the classy ambiance of the place. We got our salads and I have to say they were pretty good for Caesar salads. The lettuce was fresh and the dressing was very flavorful.
Our main entrees arrived not long after that and if my dealer got the half-sized pasta entree, I'd hate to see the size of the large plate. He said, "Oh, yeah. The first time I ordered pasta here, I got the large plate. I couldn't even finish half of it."
My rib eye was a good-sized chunk of meat with a lot of flavor. It was cooked a little over rare - the way I'm beginning to like my steaks - and had a fair amount of marbling throughout. I was happy with it. It went perfectly with the Jordan Cabernet.
My dealer declared his meal as "great, as always." He said, "I've never had a bad meal here."
The service was excellent, the food was wonderful, and I loved the energetic atmosphere of Crave. But it wasn't over the top and I felt very comfortable in the restaurant. It had sort of a laid-back classiness, a place where you could easily dress up or wear blue jeans to dine at. I'm giving Crave a thumbs up.