One look at Crave's menu and you'll know this place is out to do something different. The downtown Akron restaurant prides itself on serving up the kinds of daring combinations you might find in a fine-dining establishment, but without the upscale pretension of prices. Judging by the diverse crowd we encountered there, the plan to please just about everyone seems to be working.
Owners and chefs DeAnna Akers and Aaron Hervey each have substantial experience at other notable area restaurants, including Treva and Harry Corvairs, which they've brought to the table (literally) at Crave. The ingredients and presentation of food - as well as the modern, colorful décor - are evidence of a keen eye for what works and what doesn't, walking the line between trendy and down-to-earth.
For example, at the top of the list of appetizers is the childhood favorite grilled cheese and tomato soup. Other offerings with more of a twist include cumin and curry dusted fried pickle chips with caramelized onion raita or crab cakes with tequila and cilantro aioli and gazpacho relish. The char-grilled Guinness and garlic glazed steak skewers are practically a meal, and are tender and plenty flavorful even without the heavy accompanying smoked Gouda cheese fondue.
Choosing from the entrees is not an easy task. Even the sandwiches would tempt an adventurous palate, with choices such as a Denver omelet with Bloody Mary ketchup on Texas toast, a catfish po'boy with lemon tarter and fried crawfish, and Crave's own version of the classic reuben.
The dry aged strip steak over roasted fingerling potatoes, foie gras butter and Cabernet reduction is a good choice for those looking for something a little more on the conventional side. The char-grilled rum and vanilla glazed halibut over mashed plantains with mango jalapeno salsa proves to be a winner as well, with a lighter mingling of flavors than anticipated. And the plantains make for a much better side than regular potatoes.
When it comes to dessert, our server suggests the fried pumpkin and apple empanadas with five-spice whipped cream and carmel sauce. We trust her and don't regret it, and also enjoy an old-fashioned draft root beer float for good measure.
An affordable wine list and swanky new construction round out the list of contradictions you'll find at Crave. Take-out is also available.