First Look: CRAVE’s New Menu Led by Stewart Woodman

Stewart Woodman has an impressive background; he’s worked in kitchens in New York, was Food and Wine’s Best New Chef in 2006, and has run a fair share of restaurants here, including the lauded, now-shuttered Heidi’s. So, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that when Woodman was brought on as culinary director of Kaskaid Hospitality (CRAVE, Union, Urban Eatery, BoneYard Kitchen & Bar) menus started to shake up, first at what’s now Union Workshop, and now at CRAVE.

Woodman led a crew of eight chefs that got together to create the new menu, about 90 percent of which changed from the original. Categories are similar, and there’s still both an American and sushi side, but there’s a new influx of flavors more in tune with Woodman’s fine dining background.

One commonality is the ability to take a traditionally simple dish and turn it on its head. Take the Poblano Caesar Salad, whose roasted poblano dressing gives the salad a welcomed kick, and is topped with melt-in-your-mouth polenta croutons that I’d be satisfied with eating in a bowl all by themselves. For a starter, there’s also a new take on chicken strips, tossed in a spicy, and trendy, gojuchang sauce, well balanced by one cooler for dipping. Perhaps my favorite first dish, especially in this cooler weather, was the Chicken Apple Sausage Flatbread, as the flavors of the meat were great on its own, but nicely paired with caramelized red onions, roasted red peppers, manchego, and balsamic glaze.

Chicken Strips; Photo by Molly Schelper

As far as main dishes, the Lobster Linguine, made with poached lobster in a truffled lemon butter sauce, was delightfully light, the Half Roasted Chicken offered serious flavor, as it was served over coconut jasmine rice and topped with grilled pineapple relish, fried plantains, and jalapeño orange glaze, and the Bison Burger, topped with pork belly, had even non-burger lovers at the table going back for more. For dessert, the S’mores Brownie with vanilla bean ice cream was easy to dive into, but the Rum Butterscotch Pudding was also hard to turn down.  

Chicken Apple Sausage Flatbread; Photo by Molly Schelper

The drink menu underwent a revamp as well, with new craft cocktail offerings and non-alcoholic selections that incorporate house-made infusions and purees. The Sparkling Cranberry, a mix of La Marca Prosecco and cranberry sage syrup, was a favorite, as was its non-alcoholic counterpart, the Cranberry Sage Refresher, and the Blueberry Mint Fizz, made with fresh blueberry, mint, and soda. 

Expect to see the seasonal menu shift again slightly in the spring, but before then, I’d advise trying what’s on the table for fall/winter. Woodman has left his stamp, and it’s a tasty one.  

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