Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Restaurant Review - CRAVE in Mt Pleasant

My friend Kim and I stopped by Crave in Mt Pleasant after attending a class at the College of Charleston's music department last night. Being consistently one of our favorite places, we were looking forward to discussing the evening and catching up on trips, life, kids and all of our favorite subjects. The bar area of Crave is lovely, nice and open and with high tables scattered throughout. Ordering a glass of wine and a beer, we settled into the menu like bees to honey, busily devouring each appetizer's description. We finally chose to share a salad on the specials menu and also wanted to sample the antipasto plate.

To begin with, our server brought a basket of warm bread. We each pulled out the steaming muffins first, as they looked incredibly tasty. Taking just small bites and were delighted at the delicate sweetness of what turned out to be sweet potato muffins. The slight cinnamon flavor was accentuated with a light maple butter. Nestled next to the muffins were pieces of french bread, crusted perfectly with fluffy middles. The muffins are made in-house with just a few simple ingredients and are just one of Crave's delicious treats. While the french loaves had a nice consistency and appeared fresh, we learned that they are not hand crafted by Crave's chefs but delivered by a food service.

Our salad arrived promptly, and we forked through the delicious bib lettuce, goat cheese with bacon crumbles, and dried apple chips. One fried egg was placed on top. As an aside, I believe a fried egg on anything makes it better, but on this particular salad, it was outstanding. A champagne vinaigrette drizzled the dainty leaves without drowning them, and the natural flavors blended well. The simplicity of dried apple chips with goat cheese was a nice surprise, and we enjoyed each bite. As our server came to remove the plate, we dryly suggested they take it off the menu, because we obviously didn't like it (the plate was basically licked clean). She laughed and brought out our second dish.

Kim and I are utterly baffled by this dish. There is no other way to say it. It was terrible. What is so surprising is that Crave is typically consistent. Our food choices in the past have included lobster and shrimp risotto, scallops, and salmon. Their dinners are truly wonderful and spot-on, but this.. this.. this plate.. ?? First of all, look at the plating. They are trying out for a rustic appeal with large chuckly blocks of what is supposed to be feta cheese on a wooden block. It looks ok, I guess, and in the dim lighting it's hard to show you just how boring it really was. The artichoke salad with black olives tasted medicinal and bland. The feta cheese blocks were chalky and dry. The charcuterie was simply disgusting! We couldn't eat it. The best thing on the platter was pickled beets, and they were straight out of a can. The pickled green beans were crunchy, yes, but so lightly pickled that they just tasted sickly (maybe they needed the artichokes for help!). Little drowned grape tomatoes dotted one section, but they were so sad looking that we couldn't enjoy them either. It was one of the worst food experiences I have experienced over the past few years, and that's saying something after my trip to North Carolina!

Overall, I cannot give Crave a bad review. Multiple experiences have proven they are a decent restaurant. One suggestion though, never put the antipasto plate on your specials menu again. Take it off, forget you tried that one, and stick to what you're good at. Everything else.

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