Possibly the most significant debut on the Jerusalem food scene in the past year has been Crave – a “gourmet street food” restaurant, located in the shuk which has generated a constant buzz since it’s soft launch and has been packed ever since.
With an original menu, boasting a series of excellent dishes unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in Jerusalem (or anywhere else kosher that I’m aware of), with Tacos, Sliders, Burritos, Bowls and Sandwiches incorporating ingredients such as lamb bacon, house made vegan cheese and sour cream, kimchi, adobo sauce, sous vide eggs and much more, it’s quickly established an excellent reputation with lines forming outside soon after opening hours – more on those in a second.
Last night was our 5th (and best) visit since December. We have tried different menu items each time (with a couple of notable exceptions) and have been delighted with the food each time. Last night we went with a duck and chicken confit spaetzle special which was excellent, unsual and (unlike most specials) one of the cheaper items on offer. We also tried the skirt steak sandwich which may be even better than the Reuben. Our one constant is the onion rings which are deep fried in a shatteringly crunchy panko crumb and (apparently) a secret ingredient. There is so much that I still want to try on the menu that our next visit will not be long off.
Back to the lines – the only gripes which I have previously had with Crave is logistical. With lines out the door, there has never been an organised way to get a table beforehand. In the past, not knowing if we’d have a spot in 5 or 45 minutes (if at all) and no method of lining up, we’ve chosen (with regret) to take our custom elsewhere.
The method of ordering and food delivery though a little charming (order inside and take a bottle marked with a number to a table if you can find one and then hope that the server manages to find you) has been haphazard and frustrating with food often seeming to take forever to come out.
In the past couple of weeks however, all has changed. We were greeted at the door by a hostess with an orderly list and were seated inside 5 minutes (albeit this was Monday evening – not a busy time – Thursdays will still be crazy I’m sure. Food is now ordered at the table and delivered quickly and accurately (again we were not there at a busy time but the system is clearly far more orderly) – we were eating our onion rings within 5 minutes of ordering them and our other dishes came out soon after.
So to excellent food Crave has now added a couple of simple steps in service to make the whole experience more accessible and pleasant. James Oppenheimer, one of the owners happened to be outside as we left and we shared our thoughts with him and had a lovely, warm conversation as we have done with Genius Chef Todd Aarons in the past – their accessibility only adds to the experience as far as I’m concerned.
If you haven’t been – go. If you want to beat the crowds go for opening time or on a quieter evening. Highlights (so far) include the Reuben, Pulled Brisket on Rye and Skirt Steak Sandwiches, Tonkatsu and Crave burger sliders, any of the bowls, Darjeeling cocktail. Whatever you do order, make sure to include those onion rings!