I never intended this blog to be a space for reviews, but this experience we had at dinner is too funny not to share.
I am a frequent Groupon user. One of Groupon’s newest features is their Now! Deals, where business offer deals for use today. Unlike the usual buy-now-use-later type of deal, this one is buy-now-use-now. When I was looking for inspiration for my birthday dinner, I checked there first. I found $12 for $25 to Crave Brasserie and Wine Bar, a new restaurant in Amesbury. Every time I’m in downtown Amesbury, I always remark at how cute it is, but we never go there. So I figured we’d try it out.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I almost always include links to whatever I’m telling you about. I would do that here too, except that their “website” is a Facebook page. Instead I’ll give you this link and we can pretend that they have a website.
Crave is located right off of downtown Amesbury next to a huge parking lot. I’m nearly positive that there is more parking spaces than chairs. Most recently, this site was a coffee-house. Before that (but maybe not immediately) it was a train station. We were seated in the only table for two in the dining room area. They have high tops in the bar, but we didn’t venture back there. The dining room is small – only eight tables. Still, it took 10 minutes for our server to acknowledge us and another 10 minutes to get our drinks from the bar. A note about the drinks. “Brasserie” is french for “brewery”, which is kind of misleading when you consider what a “brasserie” has come to stand for in today’s restaurant speak. Still, we expected some more interesting choices on both the beer menu and the wine list. There were five beers on draft. Sam, Sam seasonal, Allagash and two Rapscallions. So yay, I guess, that they’re supporting a local brewery. But five beers? There’s a wider beer selection at Uno’s. I consider myself a fledgling wine snob. I almost always scan every wine list for varietals and location. I like to see if the wine is from any place I recognize from our honeymoon to Napa and Sonoma. If I go to a wine bar and I see Kendall Jackson and Cupcake on the wine list, I’m not going to take you seriously. If I can buy it at Shaw’s, why would I come to your establishment? If you’re not going to have note-worthy wines, don’t bother call yourself a wine bar.
The food came in average time and tasted okay. They made their overcooked dry french fries palatable by drowning them in gravy. There was some unidentified shreds on the top of my steak. They might have been potato peels. I thought they were onion straws, but no, so I just moved them to the side and forgot about them. Mr. Wonderful ordered potato crusted haddock that had a weird cream sauce. Not enough lemon to be a lemon sauce, but too much to just be an accent. We asked to see a dessert menu, but there wasn’t one. There were three things. I picked the chocolate mousse cake. Mr. Wonderful was disappointed that I didn’t pick the maple crème brûlée with candied bacon, but I’m kind of a purist when it comes to crème brûlée.
This is where things got funny. I took one bite of the cake and thought that maybe they burned it. Then I thought I tasted butane. After three or four bites, trying to figure out what was wrong with the cake, I decided I wasn’t going to eat it. It was gross. When our server came over to ask us how the cake was, I asked her if it had ever been on fire. Her response? “Does it taste like it? I’ll get you a new piece.” So wait, was it on fire? Because I kind of expected her to say, “On fire? No!” I didn’t think she’d agree with me. Mr. Wonderful couldn’t stop laughing because, out of all the ways I could have complained about the cake, I went straight to “Was this cake on fire?” Now we’re left speculating about all the ways that it could have been on fire. Did they microwave it too long? Did they burn the mousse? How is the second piece going to be different? It turns out that sometimes the chef likes to torch the cake to crisp up the sugar. HUH? It’s chocolate cake! You don’t need crispy sugar. If you’re looking to eat something crispy, you’re not going to order chocolate cake? So I’m guessing that the kitchen staff isn’t classically trained or anything.
My third favorite thing was trying to pay with the Groupon. If you’re going to offer a Groupon that’s only good for one night, you’d think you’d let the staff know when they started their shift. Every time I’ve used a Groupon, the server or cashier has known exactly what to do. It wasn’t really a big deal. By this point, we were already late for trivia, so what was another five minutes. But it was just funny to give my phone to the waitress, watch her walk over to another waitress, explain to that table what a Groupon is, disappear and then bring me back my phone. I hope she didn’t call China!