Crave Fishbar Upper West Side (NYC)
I admit I rarely go to the Upper West Side unless it’s attending a show at Lincoln Center, the Museum of National History, or there’s really good food and a few friends are able to meet up with me. For this time around, it’s the latter and we met up at Crave Fishbar (Upper West Side). This spacious second location of the original (in Midtown East) is a seafood restaurant that is inviting with the spacious bar area with a dedicated oyster shucking area and the charming herringbone wood ceiling. What makes this particular restaurant brand unique is it sources sustainable fish.
We started off with refreshing cocktails of Karate Kid (a bright gin based cocktail laced with yuzu), Watermelon & Strawberry Sangria (fruity but not overtly sweet) and Burning Man (a gently smoky whisky based cocktail with notes of peach and burnt orange zest) with our shucked oysters – a briny St. Simon (New Brunswick, Canada); meaty, moderately salty Goose Point (Willapa Bay, WA), and Fanny Bay (Union Bay, British Columbia) that have firm meats, a mild brininess and a pronounced cucumber finish.
We did sneak in another round of oysters by way of a spicy tequila oyster shooter. The Thai chile tequila gently sweetened with kaffir agave combined with the St. Simon oyster tasted like a Bloody Mary without the tomato juice. It’s really good and the spicy kick really livens the flavors.
The plancha grilled baby octopus with charred Okinawa sweet potato was delicious. The octopus was tender and the creamy sweet potato was an unexpected but good pairing. The grilled diver sea scallops, applewood smoked oyster mushrooms, cucumber relish, sorrel were fantastic. The large scallops were perfectly seared and just cooked through. The mushrooms and relish added the gently sweet and herbaceous flavors to the dish. The rice dusted Point Judith calamari with Ttai miso sauce, mung bean sprouts, and aleppo chile is a good variation on the classic fried calamari though I am not too fond of the mung bean sprouts (added too much moisture) but I did enjoy the bright chile flavor and umami laden miso sauce to flavor the calamari. The large and meaty grilled head-on prawns were delicious especially there’s so much flavor when you suck the head of the prawn and it’s cooked beautifully.
The plancha grilled swordfish with eggplant caponata, cubanelle pepper, and balsamic reduction was tasty. The firm swordfish was cooked well and the eggplant caponata added layers of flavor and pleasant acidity. The handmade squid ink spaghetti, with chopped shrimp, leeks, and fresno chile was a piping hot bowl of delicious pasta. The chile pepper definitely made this dish. We had a side of watermelon, scallion, gochujang, and feta salad. The Asian inspired take on the classic watermelon and feta salad was good though I don’t really get much of the gochujang but it’s not a bad salad.
The highlights of dessert were scoops of excellent pineapple and kiwi sorbet from Il Laboratorio del Gelato and the Milk & Honey, a milk chocolate peanut butter cake, honeycomb, milk and honey ice cream. The latter surprises me since I normally don’t care for peanut butter focused desserts since it’s not so heavy on the peanut butter or chocolate since the milk and honey flavors separate the two to make it light.
Overall, we had a great dinner. The food portions are reasonable for its price and the food itself was very good. The front of the house staff is friendly and knowledgeable of the menu. I would definitely go back for another meal here soon.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the gallery below or CLICK HERE for the photo set:
Crave Fishbar Upper West Side
428 Amsterdam Avenue (at W 81st Street)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (646) 494-2750