Looks Can be Decieving
Suburban mall food doesn’t normally conjure images of gourmet food and artisan cocktails, but I was pleased to have those preconceived notions blown out of the water during a recent dinner at CRAVE Restaurant in Bethesda.
For those craving something more gourmand than the Cheesecake Factory during marathon shopping excursions, look no further! CRAVE offers sleek design, artisan cocktails, and an array of culinary treats. In fact, it’s worth a visit regardless of your shopping needs.
We started with a tray of “Angry Dragon Martinis” and an outstanding sushi platter.
Bacardi Dragon Berry, Soho Lychee, Citrus Rim
While the menu offered distinct nods to Crave’s other locations throughout the country, it is also largely Chef driven, with an impressive amount of autonomy for a boutique “chain” restaurant.
We moved on to a beautiful array of Americana cuisine- Chef Joel Hassanali is originally from Trininad and Tobago, and subtle nods to Caribbean influences showed up throughout the 5 course meal.
This wino was pleased and surprised to even see a walk in wine cellar for oenophiles. Discussions to bring in local craft wines are apparently in the works!
Wine and Sake cellar
For more pictures, check out BonVivantDC on Instagram!
Have you tried CRAVE yet?
It started with the invitation. I’m a sucker for snail mail, but almost missed the chic and creative envelope hiding among bank statements and bills. It was unlike any other industry event I’d attended and I was immediately intrigued. The concept is simple, but novel in this age of social media.
Enjoying the cocktail hour
“You come. You see. You eat. You Facebook, Instagram, and tweet. You sip and nosh and connect, then post it to pay your check.”
Longview Gallery‘s industrial chic vibe met Mid-Summer Night’s Dream with fanciful and thoughtful details everywhere I looked. Live jazz played as guest mingled and got snap happy.
Clever details everywhere: popup popcorn for a popup restaurant
I’m pretty happy with any party that starts with a tray of French 75’s being proffered at the door. After mingling and taking in the scene we were seated to a 4 course meal.
Welcome cocktail: French 75
In a world where every one of life’s mundane details is snapped and documented, Taylor and Hov Events decided to bring together an event worthy of being documented by foodies, artists and fashionistas from DC’s online community. The result was extraordinary- everything from the welcome cocktails, design elements, to the food were snap worthy.
Just one of the fanciful art installations
It’s hard to make good food for a party this size- it’s even harder to make GREAT food. Spilled Milk Catering pulled it off with a four course meal that had everyone raving.
I’m excited to see what concepts this team pulls off in the future!
Bon Vivant, Cocktails, Helpful Hints, Polls, Recipes, Restaurant Reviews, Upcoming Events, Wine Facts, Wine Pairing, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews, Wineries and Vineyards
There are a lot of wine blogs out there, and I want to make sure I’m giving you more of what YOU want to read about! Let me know what you want to see more of on the Bon Vivant Blog and feel free to sound off in the comments section!
Photo Credit: Boxhill Photography
Thanks for your feedback and thanks for reading!
One place this wino never orders vino
“Your seat’s open, be back in a few,” I’m greeted at the door. Indeed, my favorite spot at the long white expanse of marble seems to be the only one free on a recent crowded weeknight.
Currently off menu, my favorite boozy slushie can turn around even the toughest day. A variation of the Jameson based cocktail will be making an appearance at the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Dinner.
I usually don’t get a menu, but hear the blender firing up my favorite frozen cocktail before I’ve even had a chance to consider my order. These days, I always ask for a menu. They’ve broken me of my comfortable habit, but in the most interesting of ways.
The bartenders at Hanks on the Hill have taken on a daunting task: create a new cocktail menu every week of 2014.
Not many bars have the talent or patience to take on this project. When I asked Bar Manager, Mike Saccone, where the idea originated he answered, “After hours drinking… where all great ideas come about!”
“That’s where the concept for Suburbia came from, too!”
There are equal parts work and whimsy inspiring the two mixologists behind the concept. Their opposite personalities seem to create an effortless working relationship; Jason Strich is the unflappably calm yin to Mike’s cheeky and spirited yang.
Many of the cocktail names have quite risqué names. It’s clear these guys not only take their craft seriously, they have fun with it. Each week’s theme draws on a mixture of current events, pop culture, wit and whimsy.
Cocktails can be as innoucously named as “Pretty in Pink”- a nod to the recent birth of DC mixologist and Hank’s partner, Gina Chersevani’s baby girl during “Gina’s Having a Baby” week- to “I Don’t See Nothing Wrong With a Little Bump and Grind” from “That’s my Slow Jam” week.
An enigmatic “Italian Gentleman” shows up periodically on the menus, always with a new development to the fictional character’s plot, associates and mythology. Last week’s iteration was not only delicious, but rewarded returning patrons with a new twist. By the end of the year’s cocktail experiment said gentleman is sure to have built up a Bond level aura of mystique and intrigue. Shaken, not stirred.
The “Italian Gentleman, a Jewish Con Man, an over-eager FBI agent and the Corruption of Camden, New Jersey”- A refreshing and slightly tart mix of Ketel One Vodka, Galliano, Roasted Lemon Parsley Soda and Aperol.
Menu themes coming soon: “It was all a dream”, “College Spring Break”, “March Madness”, and more!
A lot of the cocktails have salacious names that are quick to make one blush. This is a direct nod to the cheeky sense of humor the mixologists throw into the otherwise daunting professional challenge. “It is hard to get people to order the cocktails by name sometimes. They’ll say, “The whiskey one…”
“We reply, ‘I don’t know which one that is…’ we’ve started forcing people to order them by name.”
“We don’t take ourselves very seriously here. These are serious cocktails, but we’re having fun with it.” -Mike
For these two cocktail aficionados, I thought the concept of drinking only one cocktail for the rest of their lives would be a hard question to answer.
Mike’s answer was quick, “Sailor Jerry and Pineapple. That’s my dirty little secret.”
Jason wavered slightly, “Well, honestly I like straight tequila…or a Margarita. But Gin and Tonic- that would have to be it.”
Mike chimes in with a grin, “We’re simple folks.”
“What gin?” I ask Jason, knowing there would be an answer. “…depends on the tonic.”
Maybe not so simple, after all!
These picks and more will show up on the “What’s your Favorite Drink Menu” the week of March 27.
Although the concept is exciting, it can leave drinkers who fall in love with a new libation out of luck the next time they stop in. To date, the most popular cocktails have been “I Know what Boys Like”, “Drunk in Love” and the “Alabama Slammer”.
For those missing their favorite new creation, fear not- each quarter will feature the most popular picks, and the end of the year will feature a menu of the top nine cocktails. The most popular will be the new Hank’s Classic Cocktail.
Not just for show: The mixologists incorporate salts, spices, herbs and barks into their weekly cocktails. Juices, extractions and syrups are all made in house with incredible attention to detail.
After seeing what goes into prepping these cocktails, I can honestly say that $12 is a bargain. Although the names and themes might be cheeky, the cocktails are top notch, featuring freshly squeezed juices, house made sodas, simple syrups, and endlessly creative combinations that will break you out of any cocktail rut.
Mike prepping “caviar” for a Champagne and caviar inspired cocktail on the “And the Award Goes to…” Menu
“We take [this project] seriously but we make it work. Nothing’s off limits.”
DC is undergoing something of a cocktail revolution. When I asked whether this was due to more sophisticated drinkers or more sophisticated drinks, the answer was a thoughtful “both”, followed up by a crooked grin and the inevitable quip, “Jason and myself.”
In reality, they are quick to give credit to nationally acclaimed mixologists Todd Thrasher, Gina Chersevani, Derek Brown. “They started it.”
Check out this week’s menu. They debut each Thursday:
Have you tried any of their weekly cocktail concoctions? Which have been your favorites?