We’ve all been in this situation: trying to decide where to go for dinner with our significant other or a group of friends, and everyone’s in the mood for something different. The deliberation goes round and round until you just want to go live by yourself in the woods forever. But fret no more. Crave, the newest restaurant at the Banks, aims to please everyone in your crew.
They offer everything from sushi to steaks and ribs to seafood and even pizza. To do all these things well, you’d think they would need a decked-out kitchen, a fully staffed sushi bar and a dedicated pizza oven — maybe even wood-burning. Check, check and check. Got a wino in the bunch? They’ll be excited to find the leaning (OK it’s not leaning; that would be bad) tower of wine in the center of the space displaying Crave’s huge selection of wine ranging from the recognizable to the obscure.
On a recent Wednesday night, without the need for deliberation, my girlfriend Casey and I drove down to the Banks to see what Crave was all about. Crave sits right across the street from the entrance to Great American Ball Park on Joe Nuxhall Way. We noticed a large outdoor seating area on the extra wide sidewalk and made our way inside to find a creatively designed upscale-casual space with a large bar and tons of seating.
From the long list of creative specialty cocktails I chose the Kentucky Derby, one of their “crafted cocktails” consisting of Maker’s Mark, coconut water, turmeric and Monin coconut syrup. It was served in a martini glass rimmed with sugar and what tasted like cinnamon. Despite the sugared rim and coconut syrup, it was well balanced, tasty and not overly sweet. On our server’s recommendation, Casey ordered the Kinky Heat from the martini list. It consists of Kariho sake, Kinky liqueur (mango, blood orange and passion fruit flavors), Thai chili and peach puree. It was sweet with a kick, like adding cayenne to Kool-Aid.
We narrowed the appetizers down and picked the Edamame Cream Cheese Wontons ($9.95). I’ve always loved cream cheese wontons from Chinese restaurants, so I was interested to try a variation on it. They arrived at our table in what seemed like a couple of minutes. These had chopped edamame mixed into the cream cheese filling and were served with a sweet chili dipping sauce. The mixture paired nicely with the sauce, and they were great on their own, too.
Finally, we pulled it together and made some entree decisions. I went with the Grilled Steak Medallions, served with fresh herb oil, brown basmati rice and a grilled vegetable skewer ($23.95). The three medallions had nice grill lines and were cooked medium just like I requested. It wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever had, but it was quite tasty. The brown rice and grilled vegetable skewer were also good and complimented the steak nicely. All in all, it was a hearty, tasty and satisfying meal. Next time I’ll try the BBQ Pork Ribs served with garlic mashed potatoes ($24.50) or the Herb Crusted Walleye with grilled polenta and pesto green beans ($24.95).
Casey decided to order off the sushi menu. The bento box she wanted to order was only available at lunchtime, so she settled on a California Roll ($6.95) and Spider Roll ($11.95). They came out super fast. Crave’s version of these rolls includes roe, which isn’t typical. It was a nice touch as long as tiny fish eggs don’t creep you out. I only wish we would have tried one of the more creative options like the Yellowtail Jalapeño Sashimi appetizer ($11.95).
For dessert, we skipped over the larger portioned desserts even though the S’more Brownie with smoked sea salt and marshmallow ice cream caught our eye ($7.95), and picked one of the Crave Miniatures. Served in large shot glasses for $2.95 each, we chose the Raspberry and Yuzu Mousse. It had white chocolate shavings and fresh raspberries on top, and layers of raspberry and Japanese citrus mousse. The mousse itself was dense but smooth with sweet and tart flavors. It was a perfect dessert for a hot summer day. Other miniature options include Blueberry Cheesecake and Tiramisu. You can sample all six for $15.95.
It would take a few more visits to get a real sampling of all Crave’s options, but given their attention to detail, attentive service and the quality of everything we tried, I think Crave delivers on its promise to satisfy a variety of tastes. We’ll definitely be back.
GO: 175 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown
Hours: 1 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday