I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
Having been worried that these last few entries would be sullied by a flood of Chinese buffets, family restaurants, and glorified hotel cafeterias—where the high point would be complimentary butter tarts or homemade jam over bulk-bought bagels—I’m happy to say that surprises can still occur.
This first began with Sassafras Savouries and has repeated again Crave, the restaurant built into the Treasure Cove Casino. When last I visited this location, it went by another name and looked considerably different. The new design is fantastic, classy, but balancing preciously on resembling a Moxis. They get high marks for their red and brown motif, the central fireplace, and glass windows inside the restaurant. Even their buffet looked tempting…yes…the buffet…looked tempting. However, the menu won out with some truly irresistible offerings.
Although I was tempted initially to try an appetizer / main combo, I instead focused on the larger pasta dishes. Upon recommendation, I finalized either the authentic butter chicken or the braised beef ravioli in three peppercorn sauce. I opted for the latter but was warned of its filling nature. I avoided the sushi starter as previously planned, which I would want to return to—though officially, a restaurant not dedicated to sushi seldom does it justice. Given the poor nature of sushi in PG since Suzuran passed; I doubt it could be worse. However, at $20, the ravioli is a steep investment.
Like so many locations like North 54, White Goose, Cimos, and Sassavras Savories, Crave’s menu lists too many tempting options, from the gnocchi in cambozola cream, steak and goat cheese salad, to the sirloin shepherds pie. The delivered dish did warrant its warning, with whole peppercorns that float threateningly in brown sauce. The dish was complimented with a trio of French cut garlic bread.
Now, I love peppercorn. Love it. I dust it over everything. I used to make comments that I liked my sandwiches covered to the extent of not seeing the lower layer. I wanted to be able to plant seeds in my pepper and have them grow. But even I had to admit this was a tad on the strong side. It also lacked a sufficient amount of parmesan. In defense, I was duly warned about the strength of the sauce.
The service was mixed. Although I praise the initial attentiveness and perky attitude of my waiter, my water glass was left empty for an inexcusable amount of time, especially considering the meal I was trying to ingest. I had to put the fork down and wait for water before I could finish my meal. The top of my head was getting damp. I have issue with the price; I don’t mind an expensive meal but I felt this one should have been closer to $17 or $18.
That buffet was tempting. Everything looked fresh within the hour.
Five minutes passed with no sign of the waiter. I was almost begging for an elderly waitress in a hospital gown and a coffee pot fused to her arm to wander the aisles and find me. It didn’t help that my table was elevated and separated from the rest. I was of the mind to get up and acquire a refill myself. Mercifully, I was able to finally wave him as he passed by.
Crave was one of the most difficult places to review. Often is the case, I either love a place or hate it. I begin writing a positive review or begin writing a negative one. You could easily gauge my opinion early, but with Crave the experience was mixed, so my comments must be as well. The restaurant looks great and the service, though beginning stellar, ended up inconsistent. I have praise for the ravioli though its sauce needed improvement. For one in love of pepper, I wouldn’t have made it this spicy. If I made it at home, I would’ve considered it an experiment I wouldn’t repeat without revision. If my Mom made it for our biweekly Sunday meal, I would’ve commented on it. Everything else was worthy of praise, from the staff attire, to the large ceramic cones which cover the dishes (to be reveal the food in all its splendor upon arrival).
Given its location, Crave benefits from little competition. Save a Starbucks, there’s not much around unless you drive a block down the road to Sandman’s Rockford. Rockford’s a chain, which I once reviewed but later deleted. I praised it back then, though I’ve heard from friends of a reduction in quality compared to its upscale pricing. With a two-minute drive in either direction, you’d eventually find a Boston Pizza or the past reviewed Carmel. Given the distance required for anything else, I’d certainty see giving Crave the opportunity to prove itself. I would select if over the Carmel in all honesty but depending on my cravings (heh), it may not win against Boston Pizza. Take that as serious thought.
That buffet did look tempting.