Crave On Main

Restaurant: Crave On Main
Cuisine: International/West Coast/American/Pacific Rim
Last visited: April 9, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Riley Park/Little Mountain)
Address: 3941 Main Street
Price Range: $20-30+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4-4.5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4-4.5
Additional comments:

  • West Coast/Pacific Rim cuisine
  • Local ingredients
  • Local favourite
  • Some organic ingredients
  • Daily specials/Seasonal menu
  • Comfort & innovative food
  • Nice weekend spot
  • Trendy/Modern
  • Brunch/Lunch/Dinner
  • Heated patio
  • Nice wine list
  • Moderately priced
  • Daily brunch until 2pm
  • Tues-Fri: 11am-10pm
  • Sat: 9am-10pm
  • Sun: 9am-9pm
  • Closed Monday

**Recommendations: Dungeness Crab Cake, Miso-Soya Sablefish & Lemon Tart. I haven’t tried the Short Rib Poutine, but it looks very promising and I hear the burger is amazing.

Another one of Vancouver’s favourites and I can see why. It’s an urban and trendy restaurant and semi-lounge that’s intimate because of its size, yet lively because of its crowd. It attracts a 30-50’s crowd and it’s not pretentious, but still sophisticated and inviting. It’s slightly more relaxed than casual fine dining and it’s a great place to spend a Friday or Saturday night, although it closes rather early at 10pm. It actually just celebrated its 5th birthday too, which is a huge deal when it comes to a restaurant business, let alone any business.

The food is almost the same as the atmosphere. I was a bit confused with the menu as it was mainly innovative West Coast cuisine with some random comfort food, so I wasn’t really sure which direction to go. The dishes are quite classic with a couple unique risks, but I would love to see the envelope being pushed further. It was nice to see everything made in house and a focus on local ingredients, but I just felt like everything was on its way to excellent, but settled for being very good.

The portions are fair, although it’s slightly overpriced for some dishes as I could find the same thing for even better elsewhere. I wouldn’t say it’s the “best” for seafood or West Coast, but it’s solid and wouldn’t leave you disappointed either, at least from what I tried. Nonetheless I was pleased with the meal and I would come back. Also I have my eyes on the short rib poutine I forgot to order and I really want to try their brunch and self-proclaimed “best burger” too!

On the table:

Broccoli & Parmesan Soup – 2.5/6

  • Daily Soup $6
  • I ordered it because the table next to me ordered it and it looked delicious!
  • It looked super creamy, but it actually wasn’t that creamy or rich in texture or flavour.
  • It’s not a velvety smooth cream soup and I could taste lots of pureed broccoli, but I couldn’t taste any Parmesan flavour, except for what was used as garnish. It just wasn’t a cheesy soup.
  • It had lots of texture from purred broccoli and onions, but it was under seasoned and a bit one dimensional in flavour with just broccoli.

**Dungeness Crab Cake – 5/6

  • Roasted garlic aioli, apple salad, mixed green salad $15
  • This was excellent. It was a bit small and pricey for the one cake, but at least the one of the salads was creative enough to kind of make up for it.
  • The house mixed green was basic and just lightly drizzled with a house made tangy creamy lemon vinaigrette and I think they could have done something more creative with that salad… even if it was just adding some nuts to it.
  • The apple salad on the other hand was delicious. It was crisp and refreshing and lightly tossed in lemon juice, parsley, and Parmesan cheese. I loved the tartness and sweetness of the apples, freshness of the herbs and salty bites of grated Parmesan that gave it salty nutty flavour. For Spring and Summer they should make this into a green papaya salad.

  • The crab cake had a golden brown crispy Panko crust and it was pretty much 99% flakey, moist and juicy crab meat.
  • There was some minced red and yellow bell peppers to give it sweetness and crunch and perhaps a little aioli to bind it altogether and give it a slight creaminess.
  • It was perfectly seasoned and good alone, but the house made garlic aioli was not to be wasted, although not even required.
  • My favourite crab cakes in Metro Vancouver have been from Ebo Restaurant see here, and Tapenade Bistro see here, the one from Capital Grille is also top of my list although in Las Vegas see here.

Pulled Pork and Slaw Sandwich3/6

  • House Cut Fries $12
  • I for 1/2 House Salad and 1/2 fries and that was $1 extra. It’s only a $1, but it would have been nice to know there was an additional charge.
  • The pulled pork was a bit too fancy for me. It wasn’t smothered in BBQ sauce or very saucy at all.
  • The pork was tender and naturally juicy and it was more on the tangy side with a hint of sweetness, slightly herby and then a bit of chipotle heat to follow which was unexpected. It wasn’t spicy, and it didn’t have a kick, but there was a smoky heat.
  • The focaccia was soft and fluffy, but lacking in herbs a bit. It’s the perfect bread to soak up sauce, so too bad the pork wasn’t saucy.
  • I wish the focaccia had been drizzled in olive oil and toasted to give the sandwich more texture as there wasn’t much cole slaw to give it that contrasting crunch either.
  • It was a tangy pulled pork and it came with a lot that was shredded and nicely packed together. I just prefer the messy, juicy, saucy pulled pork sandwiches though.
  • The fries were semi-crispy and well seasoned with coarse salt, but for a place like this they could up the Russets to Kennebec potatoes.
  • The house salad was very simple and lightly dressed in this house made creamy lemon vinaigrette.

**Miso-Soya Sablefish4.5/6

  • Celery root hash, arugula, butter sauce $26
  • I added the thyme and ricotta gnocchi from their halibut main for an extra $2 (5 pieces)
  • I think the ricotta gnocchi should have come with this and for $26 that would have been fair, otherwise there is better for the same price.
  • Sablefish is the most forgiving fish and I almost always order it despite it being very easy to make.
  • It was 2 pieces of sablefish lightly seared and no skin… I really missed the skin and I wanted it to be crispier.
  • It was buttery and flaky, but it wasn’t as juicy as a lot of sablefish that I’ve had before. It was a bit too salty and heavier on the miso than the soy, but the miso stood out and really infused right into the fish.

  • It was quite a light dish with the salad and hash, but the butter sauce was very rich and heavy that it was actually quite substantial.
  • The hash was made with oven roasted carrots, celery root, and red onions, but they were a bit shriveled and dried out. They weren’t yet tender and very crunchy, but I still liked it.
  • The flavour of the hash was great since they were all aromatics and it was drizzled with the rich butter sauce that was perhaps reduced with some shallots, garlic and white wine. Basically it was as good as buttered veggies can get.
  • I was hoping for a more creative sauce, as butter sauce can get quite boring, but it did do the job. Maybe they could reduce it with some sake?
  • The asparagus spears were generous and perfectly tender and there were also fresh cherry tomatoes, so with the lightly dressed arugula it was quite salad like.
  • I think some edamame beans would be a great addition to the hash to match the Asian influence in the sablefish. It just needed a little sweetness, so even some green peas would be good.
  • The ricotta thyme gnocchi was a bit underwhelming, but I had to try it. They were pan fried, but really doughy and chewy. It should have been fluffy especially with the ricotta, but it almost came across as pan fried polenta. It was cheesy with a lemony tang, but just not pillowy and light.

Desserts

I think the dessert menu changes, but they’re quite traditional offerings. On this occasion they offered bread pudding, vanilla creme brulee, lemon tart, carrot cake and a chocolate mousse cake. Normally I would have probably gone for the bread pudding, especially if it came with ice cream, but I was a bit full. The carrot cake also crossed my mind, but that’s not really a dessert for me. In the end it was a toss up between carrot cake and oddly enough the lemon tart, and the server seemed convincing of the lemon tart.

**Lemon Tart – 5.5/6

  • $8
  • I don’t order lemon tarts too often and the last one I had was from Kitchening with Carly, which was already excellent, and this one was even a bit better!
  • This has possible convinced me to start ordering lemon tarts more often. I’d even come back just for this.
  • It was almost like a molten lava lemon tart with an ultra thin and tender nutty tart that taste like it was made with ground almonds.
  • I loved the crisp sweet brulee top which added more texture and I just wish it was caramelized completely.
  • It wasn’t a thick creamy lemon custard, but a light silky smooth and extremely fluid custard that just oozed out as I broke into the crust, yet it wasn’t runny or thin in flavour.
  • It melted in your mouth and it was perfectly sweetened and balanced equally with a nice lemon tang and tartness.
  • The lemon zest was folded into the freshly whipped cream and the strawberry coulis wasn’t that sweet but had a bitter aftertaste. I think it may be reduced with some alcohol, but eaten together with the lemon tart it was a perfect medley.
  • I would have preferred a raspberry coulis for more brightness and zing, but I’d still order it again and recommend it.

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20 Comments

  • Linda says:

    mmm i love crave on main – i actually started going there a couple of years ago and it has been my go-to spot on main street, along with some other gems πŸ™‚

    mmmm their apple salad is so delicious! i’ve had the crab cakes there before i really like them – it would be totally killer for them to have two pieces of the cake but i think having the salads there make it up for it – plus i don’t feel so guilty eating the crab cakes there there because of it lol

    ive actually never had the pulled pork sandwich but from the looks of it, it seems rather dry – for sandwiches like this, i prefer the pork to be saucier like you and i think i would rather have it in a soft hamburger bun – pulled pork is supposed to be more like comfort food and i agree with you that the focaccia sort of pulls away from that πŸ™‚

    next time you should try the burger at crave – it’s really good and the best part is, it’s organic!

  • Joseph Wu says:

    As I said to them the last time I was there, I have yet to have a bad meal at Crave. And their regular mushroom soup is excellent.

  • Jayda Home says:

    You are a blogging tornado lately!!!

  • David says:

    Crave on Main is awesome! It deserves more attention than it gets. The burger is really excellent with good ingredients, but some people think it is a bit dry. Crave is a good place to hang out for brunch too.

  • Bow says:

    The sablefish wouldn’t benefit from sake ‘cos a sake reduction is too tart, too dry…a better choice would be a reisling which would add some fruit and sweetness. The wine used was probably the house white.Good cooking uses good to excellent wines but most restaurants won’t spend the money. I too prefer a messier pulled pork; it’s disappointing when one eats a dry meat rather than a juicy meat, it feels like the sandwich is missing something, Pureed broccoli soup does nothing for me, I find it chalky. I know it’s “apples vs oranges” but the Dungeness crab cake with the sad salads are terribly overpriced! I can buy an entire 2 1/2 to 3 lb. Dungeness crab for $ 16.00 at a good Chinese restaurant, why would I pay for a small 4 oz. crab cake for $15. ? Please, lower that to $7-$9…(The Gaia Bistro offers a Lamb Osso Bucco for $15; that’s a mains not an appetizer).

  • Mijune says:

    @linda – I really enjoyed the apple salad too! Ohh so you like saucy BBQ pulled pork too?!?! I thought you liked unsaucey?? Ok in that case I’ll keep my eyes open for you πŸ™‚ I’ve heard so much about the burger and now I’m determined ever since you brought it up on my The Well post too! I will try it! I love hearing your experience as well!

    @Joseph Wu – regular mushroom soup it is!!

    @Jayda Home – lol… I’ve always been posting everyday πŸ™‚ For almost 2 years now lol

    @David – Really dry?? I wouldn’t have guessed that… can I request it medium rare? I can’t wait to try their brunch!

    @Bow – nice call on the Reisling! I always thought that would be too sweet to cook with. So many Japanese places use Sake though? Yes the crab cake was pretty pricey, but it was very good. I think it could have been bigger though considering the ones at Ebo were all crab and came with 2. It was good though… Bow you need a recipe book. I’d buy it.

  • Sandi says:

    I’ve been going to Crave for years – during the summer they have a cozy little garden area in the back that’s just awesome in the summer. My favorites are the Shorty Rigatoni, which I have managed to duplicate at home (a two day process, though…). But my all time fav is the spicy tempura tuna roll – simple, fresh, delish. I’ve tried the burger a couple of times and was underwhelmed.

    Sucks that they don’t take reservations or I’d be there more often.

  • David says:

    @Mijune It’s not dry to me. I would say it’s medium. I think you can request it medium rare; perhaps I’ll do that next time. Mmm, you’ve tempted me to go this week. πŸ™‚

  • Linda says:

    i definitely like it saucy on burgers and stuff but not on pancakes just cause it tends to overwhelm and drown the flavour of them πŸ™‚ plus i like my pancakes fluffy lol mmmmm tell me when you do get a chance to try the burger πŸ™‚

  • Mijune says:

    @Sandi – I saw the back patio and I can’t wait to have brunch there! The Shorty Rigatoni sounds delicious and I totally didn’t think the spicy tempura tuna roll would be that good… I usually try not to order Japanese things at non-Japanese establishments… but I guess I should give it a try before writing it off. Thanks Sandi for your tips!

    @David – lol nice!

    @Linda – ohhh riiight… it was on the pancakes!! Got it! and I will πŸ™‚

  • LotusRapper says:

    Crave is consistently on the mark. My wife usually gets the specials, tuna nicoise or mussels, I stick to the burger, pulled pork sandwich or the bbq chipotle backribs. Or if I’m in the mood for a healthier non-red meat option, the halibut & chips LOL.

    They’re definitely a gem on the Main strip.

  • Mijune says:

    @LotusRapper – So you like the pulled pork? The BBQ chipotle backribs look food and I really have to tackle that burger!! LOL on your “healthier” option bwhahaha… ur wife sounds the opposite of you in terms of food tastes!

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