CRAVE - First Impressions

If you are not yet familiar with CRAVE, then you will want to be.  Nestled in Westfield Montgomery, the upscale shopping center in Bethesda, MD, this American Kitchen & Sushi Bar restaurant is known for its fresh ingredients, a topnotch wine selection, creative sushi and innovative cuisine. 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a media preview dinner and was more than pleasantly surprised.  I, along with other bloggers, enjoyed an impressive  5-course meal that was paired with wines from CRAVE's cellar. 

At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Joel Hassanali. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Chef Hassanali puts a spin on American cuisine by incorporating a melange of cultural influences from the Caribbean, such as papaya gastrique and banana fig butter. 

Before I write one more word, let me take you through my delicious culinary adventure ...

This beaut is called the "Angry Dragon Martini" and could have easily been a libation regular on "Sex In The City."  Pretty in pink. Sweet in taste. This fun cocktail, adorned with a citrus rim, was concocted with Bacardi Dragon Berry and Soho Lychee.

Sushi is an integral part of the dining experience at CRAVE and this beautifully assorted CRAVE Sushi Platter demonstrated that. The fish was incredibly fresh, which was evident in every bite. My favorite was the  'Caterpillar,' a great mix of spicy tuna, smelt roe, cucumber, mango, avocado and a sweet sauce.

Beet and Kale Salad. Beets are one of my favorite vegetables, so when I saw this on the menu, I was looking forward to trying it out. Let's just say it didn't disappoint. The kale and frisee were soaked in a spring-y orange cilantro citrus vinaigrette and mixed with goat cheese and candied cashews. Just. Plain. Good.

Seared Scallops. Seared to perfection and tender on the inside, these golden scallops were phenomenal. The curry papaya caviar and papaya gastrique offered a great balance of sweet and spicy. I am not going to lie, I definitely dragged my fork in this sultry sauce. ;-) Paired with a glass of MacMurray Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Gris, with flavors of pear, baked apple, and dried fig, complemented the scallops very well. 

Grilled Mahi Mahi. On a bed of Himalayan red rice, this buttery piece of fish was taken to the next level with a red pepper curry sauce and banana fig butter. A truly unique flavor experience that was well-worth it.

Medallion Duo. After several fish dishes, I welcomed a nice piece of steak. The green peppercorn demi was juicy and flavorful and the grilled asparagus and potato puree only made it more of palate-pleaser. A glass of Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon from the Michael David Winery, which had notes of pomegranate, blackberry and smoked vanilla oak, paired incredibly well with this meat dish.

Mini dessert sampler. A veritable desserts gone wild moment! We had our choice of tiramisu, lemon meringue (my favorite!), blueberry no-bake cheesecake, wild berry cobbler and salted caramel. This sweet symphony of desserts brought a smile to my face and to others at the table. 

Typically, coffee is the beverage that is highlighted at the end of meals, but at CRAVE, there was emphasis on tea, which made this tea fan incredibly happy!  These attractive loose leaf tea vials included a selection of Earl Grey, Tropical Citrus Green Tea, Chamomile Citrus and Breakfast Tea.

So, the next time that you are CRAVE-ing a good meal (I know, I just wanted to throw in one pun ;-)), don't hesitate for one second and venture out to CRAVE in Bethesda. You won't regret it! 

Thank you to Jill Collins, Chef Joel Hassanali and the CRAVE staff for an unbelievable dining experience!

CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar
7101 Democracy Boulevard | Bethesda, MD 20817 | 301-469-9600
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