This restaurant wishes it was Sabore, the excellent Town of Tioga tapas-style establishment where the food does not suck. KC Crave is not even in the same universe. We have a menu that suggests sharing (we were a party of six), or for a price you can upgrade to a meal with two sides. Each item is around nine to eighteen bucks. The place really seems designed more for a party of two or four. That’s about how many bites of something will show up on a plate, unless you get the tiny ice-cream scoop of ‘wasabi’ mashed potatoes, in which case you better use a tiny fork. Wasabi on the palate in this side dish is virtually invisible, and that’s the theme in the restaurant: whatever is important or defining is pushed way to the back of the thought. Things like, you know, the food, the flavors, and the customer. This is a joint to make money, and lots of it. They will. Gainesville simply does not, in general, give a shit about food quality. That explains the success of 101 Downtown. There is no love or care in KC Crave’s food. The cooks plate as if they learned from watching MASH, cook as if they learned from watching How Not To Cook Food Properly (that’s a new show I’m pitching to follow Honey Boo Boo on the Learning Channel), and the servers serve as if they learned their craft from Gilligan’s Island. But I do not blame the cooks (I really should) or the servers. This is a management issue and it comes from spending money to make money regardless of and often at the expense of the customer—who gets screwed, faked out on phony food, and ultimately pissed off. If you have a positive experience here, you either came simply to drink and watch the giant televisions and/or the bands, or you enjoy the subtle nuances of the haute-cuisine at Taco Bell on a hot date. Nobody is trained properly. The wine was good. Here we go:
1.) Fried Turkey – Dry with a gross sauce, served with mini-scoop of wasabi potato (tastes like instant and if it isn’t, that’s sadder), and a zucchini stuffed with stuffing-bullshit. $14 fuckin’ bucks.
2.) Crabby Diane – Cold, nothing on it that tasted like crab, with a tiny bit of a gross so-called peppercorn sauce. Gristly, and this item was returned. Wretched. $15.5
3.) Pistachio Lamb “Lolipops” – Mushy coated, flavorless raw lamb. Poor lamb. I mean raw, people. Raw. Lamb sushi. Came with a paltry serving of thin asparagus dried up and burnt to shit. $18
4.) Filet Medallions with Gouda gross sauce. Cold. $16.9
5.) Barbecue Grilled Ribs – These fared best. Our dining companion said, “So-so. Edible.” It was at this point that our friend who had been gnawing through her cold crabby steak Diane with a knife that looked like it came from an Elementary School picked a bite up and said, “This piece isn’t so bad.” $15
1.) Caesar Spears - Three measly Romaine lettuce spears with maybe a quarter-teaspoon of 'Caesar' dressing. $8.5 freakin' dollars!
2.) Tsunami Chips – Overcooked with a gross so-called spicy truffle Asiago cheese sauce. No flavors of truffle or even Asiago. No ‘Tsunami’. $8.5
3.) Crab Bisque – Served in a tiny condiment bowl, this soup tasted nothing like crab and was salty and warm. Sparse bits of something in it, crab maybe? $5
4.) Beer Cheese Soup – Could taste some beer in there (Schlitz?), over-salted and tasted like a powder mix. $5
5.) Crab-stuffed Wontons – Tasted like a pre-frozen product with the crab just on the edge of off. When served to us by our diligent waitress, one fell off the plate into the lap of our friend and on to the floor. They brought us a replacement wonton—one little replacement wonton on a plate. Don’t worry, they did not charge for the wonton that fell on the floor. $9
We had survived the attack and as one of our companions is a die-hard chocolate lover, we decided to indulge in something that hopefully would be as amazing as it sounded: Chocolate fondue. Delicious creamy warm chocolate served with fresh strawberries, bananas, pineapples, and coconut marshmallows. The menu said it was the “Ultimate Sharing Dessert!” It arrived with about six pieces of each item (which boils down to about three regular-sized marshmallows, a half a banana, two large strawberries, and a quarter-cup of pineapples. The chocolate was in a bowl over a candle which they lit at the table. It was absolutely cold and despite being told it was a mix of high-quality milk and dark chocolate, I would bet my sweet ass it was a can of Hershey’s Dark. If it was not a can of Hershey’s Dark and this is what they melted down in the back as the manager tried to convince me, they double-suck. Anybody who has had the pleasure of the chocolate fondue at “The Melting Pot” knows what a phony we were served. $12.5
All this brought by a wait-staff who looked awkward and presented plates directly from their unsure shakey hands instead of on trays or carts (which would have saved us some measure of terror.) Very unprofessional. We cowered in fear as each shaky dish came at us. Which one would be the next to fall? At least we wouldn’t get burned because everything was tepid or outright cold. And the waitress, doing her best, would repeatedly ask, “Is everything tasting okay?” And we were trying not to be assholes, but what could we say? I think we laughed instead in a half-hearted effort to squeeze some value out of the place. We had a fine time for all the wrong reasons, just nonplussed and finally so tickled almost every single thing could be so horribly wrong. No sense of love, knowledge of food or flavors, of cooking technique, of staff training, and that giant safety knife—such a goofy knife! But hey, the wine was good.
Look, this brings up a question. Why? Why spend so much money to make a restaurant where the food and service is a complete afterthought? With that kind of money, they should get a chef, not line cooks. (If there’s a chef in there, he trained at Denny’s.) I want the place to win, to be successful. It’s nice in there, really nice (a little loud maybe when Chris McCarty is sound-checking as he was during our dining experience—great performer, by the way). KC Crave is trying to be all things to all people; a sports bar, an adult lounge, a fine-dining experience, a tapas-bar, an entertainment center, if that’s the worst thing I could say about it. But it isn’t the worst thing I can say about it.
For three-quarters of a million dollars, and add in our $200, Gainesville deserves better than this. The worst thing I can say about KC Crave is [Gainesville Location], the food sucks.