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The curse of 3825 Fifth Avenue

Can Crave survive this tough spot in Hillcrest?

A combo of chicken and gyro — not bad, but not great.
A combo of chicken and gyro — not bad, but not great.

They say “location location location” is important in the restaurant business, and if that’s the case, 3825 Fifth Avenue must be a bad location. Although thrift shops seem to thrive there, the block between Robinson and University is tough on restaurants. This location has seen two eateries close in two years (Hom Korean and Which Wich).

Crave might have something, if they can refine their seasoning

However, those were fast-casual concepts, built like mini cafeterias where you watched your food made à la an assembly line behind a steel counter.

Colorful décor, including a floor painted like a Mondrian block-art tableau

That counter remains — in fact, most of the structure of the place looks the same, right down to the location of the self-service soda fountain. Except it’s not self-service, and Crave isn’t a fast-causal counter restaurant. And the food was far from fast. I’m cool with slow food, but I thought this place would be another quick bite and I had to run outside to add more time to the parking meter.

The buttery flavor and oily texture that makes a Cornish hen worthwhile couldn’t break through

Crave serves Persian food, ranging from a variety of kebabs to a variety of stews, with basmati rice being the glue that holds the menu together. My friend ordered a $14 chicken-and-gyro-meat combo, while my attention couldn’t be pulled away from the $12 cornish hen, bone in.

Friendly service ensured nobody complained about waiting for kebabs to properly cook in the open kitchen behind the counter. The time gave us a chance to marvel at the colorful décor, from glittery fringe hanging from the ceiling to a floor painted like a Mondrian block-art tableau. If I had to complain, it would be about the endless, vapid string of music videos playing on a giant block of TVs on one wall. I’m sure it was tuned to a channel devoted to vanity music, paid for by somebody’s rich dad.

The plates arrived, adorned with salads and grilled roma tomatoes, which I thought were a nice touch. The Cornish hen had been chopped to pieces for the grill and made a yellow-orange color with turmeric and other seasonings.

Place

Crave Grill House

3825 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Whatever the combination of flavors, it proved more savory than salty, with a vague, underlying sour note. Not bad, but not great. I tried my friend’s boneless chicken breast, and it tasted the same, though with better texture. In retrospect, I’d have rather eaten that, as the buttery flavor and oily textures that make Cornish hens worthwhile couldn’t break through the combination of seasoning and grilling.

The risky location could make it a tough year for Crave, and I think there’s room to refine that seasoning if it’s going to thrive. That said, fair prices and a comprehensive menu featuring clean, flavorful dishes of fish, fowl, beef, lamb, and vegetable dishes make it worth a visit for fans of Persian cuisine. All things considered, it’s the best restaurant to occupy this space in years.

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A combo of chicken and gyro — not bad, but not great.
A combo of chicken and gyro — not bad, but not great.

They say “location location location” is important in the restaurant business, and if that’s the case, 3825 Fifth Avenue must be a bad location. Although thrift shops seem to thrive there, the block between Robinson and University is tough on restaurants. This location has seen two eateries close in two years (Hom Korean and Which Wich).

Crave might have something, if they can refine their seasoning

However, those were fast-casual concepts, built like mini cafeterias where you watched your food made à la an assembly line behind a steel counter.

Colorful décor, including a floor painted like a Mondrian block-art tableau

That counter remains — in fact, most of the structure of the place looks the same, right down to the location of the self-service soda fountain. Except it’s not self-service, and Crave isn’t a fast-causal counter restaurant. And the food was far from fast. I’m cool with slow food, but I thought this place would be another quick bite and I had to run outside to add more time to the parking meter.

The buttery flavor and oily texture that makes a Cornish hen worthwhile couldn’t break through

Crave serves Persian food, ranging from a variety of kebabs to a variety of stews, with basmati rice being the glue that holds the menu together. My friend ordered a $14 chicken-and-gyro-meat combo, while my attention couldn’t be pulled away from the $12 cornish hen, bone in.

Friendly service ensured nobody complained about waiting for kebabs to properly cook in the open kitchen behind the counter. The time gave us a chance to marvel at the colorful décor, from glittery fringe hanging from the ceiling to a floor painted like a Mondrian block-art tableau. If I had to complain, it would be about the endless, vapid string of music videos playing on a giant block of TVs on one wall. I’m sure it was tuned to a channel devoted to vanity music, paid for by somebody’s rich dad.

The plates arrived, adorned with salads and grilled roma tomatoes, which I thought were a nice touch. The Cornish hen had been chopped to pieces for the grill and made a yellow-orange color with turmeric and other seasonings.

Place

Crave Grill House

3825 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Whatever the combination of flavors, it proved more savory than salty, with a vague, underlying sour note. Not bad, but not great. I tried my friend’s boneless chicken breast, and it tasted the same, though with better texture. In retrospect, I’d have rather eaten that, as the buttery flavor and oily textures that make Cornish hens worthwhile couldn’t break through the combination of seasoning and grilling.

The risky location could make it a tough year for Crave, and I think there’s room to refine that seasoning if it’s going to thrive. That said, fair prices and a comprehensive menu featuring clean, flavorful dishes of fish, fowl, beef, lamb, and vegetable dishes make it worth a visit for fans of Persian cuisine. All things considered, it’s the best restaurant to occupy this space in years.

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Comments
1

I went to Which Wich once, and never went back. It seemed too gimmicky to me.

May 1, 2017

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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