Everything is Craveable at Crave Fishbar

Remember that time that a crane fell and totaled an awesome chef’s  ceviche-centric restaurant restaurant?

Well, Crave Fishbar flips the bird to that crane, proving that a reincarnation can be an improvement over the original.

BARELY avoiding making potentially offensive religious joke here.

 Crave Fishbar is on a busy restaurant crowded street in Midtown East. From the outside, it looks like a casual, nondescript restaurant.

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.

Bread and butter

Normally, the bread doesn’t really require a comment. This bread isn’t even anything out of the ordinary – no mysterious infusions or meat-laden butter, or anything like that. Just some soft, tangy bread with creamy whipped butter, ready to be spread. Just, in other words, what you rarely get. The bread is often too crusty or the butter is too hard, or there is only one roll when you really want two. This is a nice serving of bread with some sweet butter, and it is all that you really want when sitting down to eat on a chilly night.

Plancha grilled octopus with c Chinese broccoli and a cumin mustard vinaigrette

Up there with Periyali for the best octopus in the city. 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

I don’t care that this is called the fishbar. For all I care, it could be called the porkbar. This 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

Why don’t I make cauliflower this way? 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. Creamy, meaty, salty, just greasy enough…this really couldn’t’ be improved upon.

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.