Crave Ceviche Wine Bar
Crave Ceviche Bar is the first restaurant in Manhattan devoted entirely to ceviche. Todd Mitgang’s infatuation with ceviche began in cooking school, where, he says, “you learn that acidity and salt make food jump out at you. The word bright comes to mind.” It’s that quality that Mitgang tries to capture at Crave Ceviche Bar, where he takes a playful approach to “cooking” raw proteins with everything from tomato water to Champagne. Everything on chef Todd Mitgang’s menu ”from the Filet Mignon Sliders to the Maine Lobster Roll”is prepared ceviche-style, cured with acid (from limes, lemons etc.) rather than cooked outright.
This dish that for ages has been a mainstay in the diet of South America (and particularly Ecuador). Ceviche is given global interpretations, including Italian (shrimp with Tuscan beans) and French (Arctic char with Champagne and truffles), with assorted sangrias on the bar and a number of nonseafood options in a breezy, rustic setting. Everything besides the tempura-fried rock shrimp and the serrano-ham crostini starts out raw and is cured in its marinade, the components of which are identified on the menu by the term “ceviche’d.” The Maine lobster roll, for instance, is made from meat that’s “ceviche’d” in Meyer-lemon juice, while the yellowfin tuna marinates in watermelon juice and Chinese red vinegar. Mitgang applies the technique to beef, too, bringing his Worcestershire-sauced, lemon-juiced filet mignon sliders to medium-rare without the benefit of a flame.
It’s only natural that the wines hail from the same origin as its showcase gem. Nineteen varieties of red and white are served by the glass, while others serve as the base for the house-made red or white sangria. Even the beer selection has a Latin flair, served “mordida style” (Corona, Negro Modelo, Pacifico, Dos Equis or Tecate) and, in keeping with the salt-and-acid theme, can be served mordida-style with Tabasco, salt and lime juice. While three window tables provide a loftier view, the real show (and the majority of the seating) takes place at the granite bar, where you can watch the chef get raw.