What do you get when you fuse two New Jersey food trucks featuring Korean food and crepes, and then combine names?
Kraverie (pronounced “Kray’-ver-ee”) came into being when the owners of two of Jersey City’s most popular food trucks decided to combine businesses and food. Lucinda Creperie and The Krave Korean BBQ continued to serve food in Jersey City, while setting up their amalgam eatery on Beekman Street in Saratoga Springs.
Fusion carried out to a higher degree.
WHERE: 78 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs; (518) 450-7423, www.kraveriesaratoga.com/restaurant
WHEN: Tue-Fri 5-10 p.m.; Sat. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $37.50 without alcohol, tax and tip
MORE INFO: Two steps without railing into building; street parking; all major credit cards accepted; music permits conversation when volume is turned down
Friend Karen was waiting for John and me at a white picnic table in the small courtyard on a recent cool summer evening. It was early and only one other table was occupied. Although The Gazette sanctions dinner for two, I decided to review all three entrees and desserts, but only list cost totals for two people.
I asked server Deanna if she would turn down the loud music of the ’70s and ’80s piped into the courtyard. She did. John volunteered that calm, soft music is necessary for dining, and this was anything but.
Since this was still Kraverie’s “soft opening,” there were a few items not yet available, notably the Korean Crepe ($10.50), “the ultimate fusion of Korean BBQ and French cuisine [with a] choice of meat, Monterey Jack cheese, mushrooms and sautéed onions served in a scallion kimchi garlic crepe,” accompanied by a house salad or fries.
Nor were the Savory Crepes (Smoked Ham and Cheese, Chicken Florentine, Vegetarian, $10-$10.50) being served yet, but the Seasonal Salads, Korean Fare, Bites and Sweet Crepes, along with an array of wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages were offered.
Intriguing was Bibimbab (Korean Rice Bowl with zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, romaine, Korean sweet chili sauce and a fried egg, $10.75 plus $3 if you add meat). The name means rice made by mixing various types of food and eaten on the eve of the lunar new year to get rid of all of the leftover side dishes before the new year. The solution to this problem was to put all of the leftovers in a bowl of rice and to mix them together. The dish is also thought to have been eaten by farmers during farming season, as it was the easiest way to make food for a large amount of people.
Karen’s Korean Tacos ($11 for three tacos with short rib, not-too-hot kimchi, onion/cilantro relish and sour cream sauce) were served on flour tortillas with corn tortillas available upon request. Colorful, she described the tacos as “onion-y” with the kimchi weighing in with just the right amount of heat.
John ordered Lucinda’s Famous Fish Tacos ($11), the dish that won the evening’s beauty prize. Three tilapia corn tacos were served with fucshia-tinted red cabbage slaw, served with green lime wedges and orange shredded carrots. The fish was crispy on the outside and steaming inside. Each taco delighted the palate as much as it delighted the eye.
My BBQ Rice Platter ($13.75, the most expensive item on the menu) featured my choice of two meats — beef short rib and spicy pork — sticky rice, kimchi, garnished with sesame seed and cilantro, served with a side of house or potato salad. Needing a little greenery, I chose the small house salad.
Once again, there was an emphasis on attractiveness: The components were arranged pinwheel style around a mound of rice on a large white square plate. The pork was tender, but not particularly spicy as described on the menu. The meat from the short ribs was flavorful, but dryer than expected (short ribs tend to be on the fatty side causing them to be moist) and a bit chewy as if overcooked. As a whole, however, the dish was more than satisfactory.
No review is worth its weight in calories without discussing dessert. Seven sweet endings were offered under the heading Sweet Crepes, ranging in price from $4.50 to $6.50. John chose the Dulce de Leche, Bananas and Walnuts Crepe — small, rich and a satisfying end to the meal. Karen’s Tiramisu was an adaptation of the classic Italian dessert featured Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread), tiramisu (mascarpone custard) and fresh strawberries. I opted for something simpler, a lemon, sugar and cinnamon crepe. It had a gentle, sweet-sour flavor and was perfect for ending the meal.
According to Kraverie’s website, “Kraverie’s mantra is to nourish the community that nourishes us. … If you’ve passed by our front windows, you may have noticed our sign — ‘if you cannot afford a meal, come speak to a manager, we have something for you. …’ ”
Indeed, they had something for us that balmy Saratoga evening.