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Crave 11025

Feed Mel blog positing July 2010

I had high hopes the day I brought a visiting vegetarian and pals to Crave 11025, a boutique-y looking new veg-friendly restaurant in Great Neck. The place had shown lots of  promise at breakfast only a few weeks earlier, when I'd been especially impressed by a goat cheese and caramelized onion omelet. Now, it was time for lunch.

There appeared to be no manager that very hot day, and the crew (both in the kitchen and the dining room) seemed cast adrift.

A dish called “Russian potato salad Olivieh created by French chef, Mr. Lucien Olivieh, Russia CTR 1860,” at $14, translated into a pretty ordinary potato salad wrap. Floridly (but not helpfully) described, it was starchy and overpriced.

I ordered something called the “Robyn salad,” at $17, a mixed chopped salad  topped with what the menu said was “house tuna.” 

“Is that pan seared tuna?” I asked the waiter. “It’s a scoop,” he said. “Of tuna salad?”
“The salad is underneath the tuna,” was his answer. “I need to know whether the item on top of the chopped salad is tuna salad,” I pressed. “It’s a scoop," was his answer.  "Who's on first?" I wanted so to ask.

When the Robyn salad came, it was indeed topped with tuna salad — nicely scooped but dry and unappealingly tangy. The decoratively arranged avocado had gone from green to brown.

But a side dish of crumb-topped macaroni and cheese was delicious. Also very good was a lively grilled Caribbean bean wrap, at $14. Best of all was the least expensive choice ($12), a delectable (but very small) grilled portobello mushroom panino with feta and spicy chipotle mayo, accompanied by the excellent spicy-sweet  "house fries."

As one of my guests aptly commented: "Everything here is so  random."

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Envision the lobby of a boutique hotel in Paris. Or Milan. Or Miami. That’s what Steven Dann did when he created Crave 11025 in Great Neck, a café whose  boudoir-ish decor dazzles with white and black tiled floors, bejeweled black chandeliers and clear Lucite chairs.

“When you’re in the suburbs and doing your work all day,” Dann said, “it almost feels like you're escaping to have a little affair.” (You may also want to escape to Dann's over-the-top shoe store across the street).

At the restaurant, the affair involves a simple, stylish meatless breakfast and lunch menu. On a recent morning, I was wowed by a friend’s goat cheese and caramelized onion omelet (more of a frittata) presented in its own little pan ($14). Alongside were “house fries,”  spicy-sweet and very good. I was moderately pleased with pecan pancakes with caramelized bananas and Canadian maple syrup ($12) but let down by flat lukewarm Belgian waffles ($12).

Crave's menu is big on salads (Caprese, chopped, hearts of palm and avocado) and also serves such items as a Caribbean bean wrap and a grilled feta plate with tarragon, basil, mint and tomatoes.

The place is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Monday. Later this summer, the place will stay open until the wee hours on Saturday nights.

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