CRAVE Fusion Cusine – Well that Sucked!!

CRAVE

I have heard about this place so many times and I was always tempted to go and try it. The images of their food and the mixes they offered seemed tempting. Yet for some reason I never got the chance to actually visit and that restaurant managed to get forgotten until I recently saw a failed Lebanese movie where one of the staring characters had a date at crave. She was presented with a very nice plate. Tempting, delicious looking, alluring. I had to make an effort and go try that place.

I made reservations for 4 and arrived on time. Crave is located in a quite side road in Monot area. The signage is bright red and its hard for anyone to miss it. The entrance and outer terrace where shielded by a plastic curtain which protected the restaurant patrons from the cold winter wind. Yet it was not a good first impression to be greeted by a muddy and dirty curtain upon arrival.

The restaurant was totally empty and we were the only diners for that evening (Yet we were later joined by another group that was loud and was watching comedy show clips on an iPad-high volume). The waiter seemed bored and bothered by our arrival. I guess he was hoping for a quiet night with no diners and no work. I always thought they depended on tips, thus the more they had diners the more money they make. I guess I was wrong. interior

The restaurant had a nice modern décor, yet it was very dimly lit. We literally needed to use our cellphone lights to be able to read the menu. The table was lit solely by the street light and a red lamp directed to the wall. The bored unprofessional waiter saw us struggling with reading the menu and just smiled and walked away. We moved ourselves to another table which had a suspended light over it and indirect lighting on the wall behind it.

The menu, which had pixelated low quality photos,  was rich and diverse, it was definitely a fusion cuisine restaurant and things started looking promising. We ordered the Tartars from the appetizers, the Arugula and tenderloin, Salsa verde shrimp skewers with artichokes, grilled Salmon fillet, and the apricot stuffed chicken.

What made things weird was the waiter that chuckled idiotically as we were discussing our order and deciding on the dessert. He said that we shouldn’t get over excited because they don’t have everything on the menu.

About 20 minutes into our order (the waiter is behind the bar playing with his phone) a loud siren comes out. The waiter goes into the kitchen comes out laughing and turns off the alarm. Few moments later the siren goes off again. After few times, the waiter manages to shut the alarm. He explained that the chief had burned something in the kitchen and the smoke set off the alarm.

image1 image2  image3

The food arrived naturally starting with the appetizer plate. It was generous and had three different kinds of tartars. Smoked salmon, marinated salmon, and marinated tuna. Presentation was nice and each of the different tartars came with its own sauce. Flavor wise the dish was less than average. Nothing too special in the salmon and the tuna had a very fishy quality to its taste.CRAVEThe grilled salmon fillet dish was served with some grilled vegetables and rice. The fish was dry and over cooked. Nothing special with the flavors.

CRAVE

Apricot stuffed chicken paillarde. Nice presentation of what I first assumed to be a tortilla wrap with the chicken and apricots inside. The flavors were very interesting and very nice. I would have loved the dish a lot if the wrapping outside wasn’t actually the chicken flattened thin and cooked super dry. I literally soaked my chicken with the sauce to be able to swallow it.

CRAVEArugula and tenderloin. The Menu read the following: Grilled US prime beef, carved on an arugula and cherry tomatoes salad with balsamic dressing. Topped with garlic crisps , our signature potato cake, demi glace reduction and vegetables skewer. Sounds good, no?

Lets start with the presentation, for a $25 cut of meat you kinda expect something better than the pile of meat  piled over some greens. The signature potato cake is actually mashed potatoes (tasted heavenly) and the vegetables skewer was non existent. Moving to the taste, the plate was very good tasting and although lacking in the presentation, it was very well seasoned and done to perfection. The people at crave need to take care of details and not any plate be presented in such a way.

CRAVE

Salsa Verde Shrimps and artichoke Skewers. The menu had an image for this dish. Very tempting indeed. What we received was a sloppy cheaper cafeteria style presentation of a dish. The noodles were literally dumped on the plate with runny sauce under it. Opposite to the other dishes where the presentation was good and the taste was below average, this plate was my favorite that night. It was really flavorful in spite of its unappetizing look.

At the end of our evening , we wanted to have desert. The absent minded waiter was asked by my friend to get us the menu. He went away and came back with the bill. With despair, we just paid and left to another restaurant and had our tea and dessert.

I don’t think I will be visiting Crave any time in the future. It was a huge disappointment.

They need to pay way much more attention to details, definitely change their staff, and add some lights to that dim place.

SHAME.

 

Advertisements

La Strada Pizzeria, A New Star is Born!

La strada

Few weeks ago a friend of mine told me that a new pizzeria opened in Burj Hammoud and that I should definitely try it. La Strada is Italian for the street. Pizza is indeed considered as street food in Italy and a staple in any Italian home. To us its fast food, to the Italians its tradition where less is more and quality ingredients are what make all the difference.

Any person that ever visited Italy knows that real traditional pizza comes served on a thin crust dough, crunchy, not over chewy, and with minimal toppings. The Americans have succeeded in pushing their variation of the pizza and turning something very delicate to the very symbol of  junk food. (They did the same with sushi, not junk food yet definitely not Japanese)

La Strada

La Strada is a small pizzeria in the main road branching from Burj Hammoud’s main square. We were greeted with a nice manager/owner at the door with a big smile and seated. The big brick stone oven was being served by a round faced chef and a young sous chef. A nice simple interior, although not traditional Italian and more New York pizzeria it made you feel relaxed and ready to eat. f8b065ffd96394787e0c27a89997420c_1421411238_200_thumb

I tried everything on the menu. Yes, everything. The pizzas were generous in size and relatively cheap in price. The menu was handed to us by the manager and we got lost in the many options they had. The options are basic , as should be, yet they are diverse and would sure meet all tastes. They even have a dessert pizza with chocolate on it.

We ordered the Four Cheese Pizza, Basturma Pizza, Margarita Pizza, Pomodoro Pizza, Mushroom Pizza, Goat Cheese Pizza, Vegetarian Pizza.

The crust was spot on perfect. The toppings did not go over the top and were not non existent, just a perfect balance.

Margherita: Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese. Perfect balance, simple and straight forward. I only wish they would add a few fresh basal leaves to the top before its served.
Pomodoro: Its basically the same as the Margherita pizza yet they added cherry tomatoes to the top and a sprinkle of dry oregano and topped with fresh arugula.  Its very nice and a fresher version of the Margherita pizza.

Mushroom Pizza: Loaded with fresh mushrooms and topped with fresh arugula leaves. One of my favorites.

Four Cheese Pizza: A mix of 4 cheeses topped their tomato sauce. It was very good, however it wasn’t clear what the four cheeses were exactly. I would perhaps have one of the cheeses diced into cubes instead of being shredded with the other cheeses and add more of the blue cheese to make the taste more distinctive and texture more diverse.

Vegetarian (Veggie) Pizza: My favorite between them all. Rich with flavors and ingredients which are not “”loaded”” on the crust. Zuccini, eggplants, mushrooms, green peppers, and olives rested on that tomato sauce. The vegetables were thinly sliced and didn’t overpower each other nor the sauce. A definite must try.

Basterma Pizza: My second favorite. An Armenian twist on the Italian tradition. The spiciness of the basterma compliments the tomato sauce and its balanced by the fresh arugula. I would suggest that they shred the basterma to make eating the pizza a bit easier since when you bite to the slice of pizza you end up with one bite that pulls the basterma off the crust and you eat the remainder of the slice with no toppings.

Goat Cheese: My least favorite of them all. I couldn’t taste the goat cheese on that pizza, so it just seemed like I was eating the Margherita pizza with something odd.

La Strada is here and its here to stay. I really hope they don’t change their prices and they don’t expand too much the manager was talking about adding pastas and sandwiches. If you they maintain the high quality and they manage to keep the prices down , I’m sure they will bloom and stick around for a long time.

Go try it, and as their slogan says : Keep your family close and your pizza closer.