Crave – Bloomington

This weekend Jess and I decided to take a trip up to Minneapolis to check out the zoo and go to the Mall of America (Jess had never been).  While we were there we decided to check out one of their newer restaurants: Crave.

Crave is unique in that it prides itself on using free-range and local products as much as they can. From their website:

Our menus, created in collaboration with Executive Chef Eli Wollenzien, focus on fresh, local and organic foods, locally grown cucumbers and tomatoes, and Amablu cheese from St. Peter.  Ingredients are used within 24 hours so they are never frozen, and only trans-fat-free oil is used in Chef Wollenzien’s kitchen. Crave’s Sushi Chef, Tony Lam, has created a menu for traditional sushi lovers and adventurous epicureans. In addition to favorites like California rolls and caterpillars, Lam fashioned a Minnesota Roll, made with baked walleye and cheddar cheese, especially for Crave restaurant goers.

The menu itself also speaks to this goal, with the following written at the very top:

~ All of our meat is 100% natural and free range raised.
~ Our produce, dairy and coffee is organic or all natural.
~ We support locally owned, independently operated farms and businesses.
~ Our dressings and sauces are made from scratch on premises. We use only the highest quality and freshest ingredients available.

So how was it?  Well Jess and I started with the Seared Diver Scallops appetizer, which was simply amazing.  I have cooked scallops before, but apparently I need to go back and work on them some more.  The scallops were perfectly cooked and seasoned and served with a little salad of greens (the presentation was great, I wish I had thought to take a picture).  For the $13.95 you get 5 scallops, but because they are so rich I think that 5 is a perfect amount for 2 people.

For the main course Jess got the Steak Sandwich… it is described as:

Tender steak, portobello, onion, basil, sun-dried tomato, Amablu cheese

I got the Baked Truffle Macaroni (and added some grilled chicken), which is described very simply as:

Pancetta, gruyere, herbs

So what did we think?  I absolutely loved the macaroni.  The description is lacking but the dish was great… it was a nice al dente penne pasta baked with a topping of panko breadcrumbs.  I couldn’t stop eating it (which was unfortunate, as I got so full that I didn’t get the dessert I wanted to try).  Very filling and very tasty… I’ve had so-called “gourmet” mac and cheese in the past and it never has lived up to the hype.  This dish is a real winner.

Jess liked her sandwich and had only one complaint… it would have been better served as an open-faced sandwich.  The taste was very good, but it was difficult to eat as a “true” sandwich.  She ended up taking off the top piece and eating it open-faced.  It was served with a side of “house made root vegetable chips” which we determined to be potato, sweet potato and beet… quite tasty.  Complimented the sandwich well.

So when all was said and done, the two dishes, an appetizer, a blueberry lemonade and a soda water set us back about $70 (including tip).  For what we got, I’d say it wasn’t bad.  I’d say the ratings for the place are as follows:

Food (taste, presentation, etc): 9/10
Service (attentiveness/helpfulness): 8/10
Price (price vs quality/taste): 8/10

Total:  8.3/10 – Recommended

I would definitely check them out if you’re ever around Minneapolis… hopefully the next time we are there we can check out their other location and some other menu items!

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