945 Second Ave (50th & 51st St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (646) 895-9585
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Chef: Todd Mitgang
2nd Cuisine: American
Area: East 50s
Crave Fishbar is back after a year long absence, thanks to a crane falling on and ruining its first location, and it is better than ever. From the inside, it is a dark, sleek space with a long bar, several high tables, and a few seats near the window. It’s narrow but well laid out, and is ideal for a first date – cozy but not cramped, romantic but not stuffy.
Though there are many entrees on the menu, the way to go here is with a few inventive cocktails and small plates.
Plancha grilled octopus with Chinese broccoli and a cumin mustard vinaigrette is so tender that it literally cuts with a butter knife, with a very meaty, mild taste that is almost reminiscent of bone marrow. It is just so mild and rich. The broccoli is like a cross between broccoli stems and spinach, with a strong vegetal taste that perfectly counteracts the rich octopus. The vinaigrette is earthy and tangy, with the pop of mustard seeds adding yet another textural difference to the dish. The attention to that detail really elevates the plate.
Crispy pork belly with pistachio onion relish and roasted squash puree is a standout, must order dish. Juicy pork belly, almost sweet underneath its crispy, salty sheath of skin. The squash puree is incredibly warming, with notes of aromatics like cumin and coriander. The best part may be the relish – tangy, bright, and crunchy with pistachios. The pork belly is a very ample piece, and though it might be a bit much for one person, it is ideal to split.
Cauliflower with spicy prosciutto, breadcrumbs. and grana padano is also tasty. It is boiled until it is just tender at the core, then sautéed with prosciutto, chiles, and crispy breadcrumbs. Served with torn basil and nutty grana padano, this dish is craveable in every sense of the word. It is somewhat salty, but that’s what makes it so great - it is the pasta of the vegetable world.
Crave Fishbar is a total gem. It isn’t cheap,but you know what? You get what you pay for. You could order a bunch of small plates, like my date and I did, or you could go the traditional route with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. If this place were in Chelsea, it would be the talk of the town and packed every night. Because it’s in Midtown East, it’s still a little under the radar, and as such, you should run there before the secret is out.
Review By: Sarah Spigelman