Just A Taste: Natasha Davis reviews American burger joint, Crave Cafe


Shannon Carlson

The exterior of Crave Cafe on Oakland Ave. They serve American style burgers “with a twist.”

South of Shorewood High School on Oakland Avenue lies Crave Cafe, an American restaurant serving burgers with a twist. Formally the Runaway Meatball restaurant, the establishment opened in 2016 after the space spent a year unoccupied. Somehow in its four years of being open, I have never tried their food, so I decided it was time to test it out.

My family and I decided to call in our order due to the pandemic. One thing to know is that they only have one phone line, so contacting them might take a while. Don’t be surprised if you hear a dial tone in the beginning, that just means they’re busy! Service was friendly, but could be faster. I waited in my car for 15 more minutes after they said my food was ready. 

Because of COVID19, their temporary hours are 3 pm to 9 pm, which is a shorter timespan than normal. This is not updated on their facebook page so I was disappointed when I called during lunch time. Choose Crave for a late lunch or dinner. 

The menu was simple yet held choices for adventurous foodies and also picky eaters. They offer 11 different sandwiches, including one vegetarian option, a chicken option, a pork burger and a crab burger. They advertise their regular burgers as a pound, 100% all natural Angus Beef, cooked to medium. They also offer five different flavored fries: standard, ranch, cheddar, barbeque and cajun. 

Our burgers and fries were packaged in white cardboard containers all inside a brown paper bag. We opted to taste test the ranch, cheese and standard fries. Of course, I ordered the vegetarian option: The Shroom. My picky sister ordered a regular cheeseburger without mustard, while my mother tried to be bold and got the Soft Shell Crab BLT. My father opted for his usual, The Standard. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the fries. They held very well in transit and did not end up soggy with grease. That’s always a sign of a good fry. The spices for each stuck to the fries very well, along with the amount of salt. Per usual, my parents complained they were too salty, but they seemed very normal to both my sister and I. Ranch was definitely my favorite among the three, with the standard fries coming in a close second. They had a rich flavor that left a good aftertaste. The cheese fries were just okay in my opinion, as the cheese seemed oddly artificial. It left me to wonder which brand of cheddar cheese they used. 

There’s no question if I would come back and get it again, because the answer will always be yes. 

As for my Shroom burger, I was ecstatic at the meaty texture of the portabella mushroom. These types of mushrooms mimic meat, giving the impression of a beefy burger. They grilled it, giving it a slightly smoky taste. Caramelized onions, fresh arugula, melted cheddar cheese, and a garlic aioli topped it off. The sweetness of the onions, the crunch of the arugula and the smooth alioli complimented the mushroom perfectly. Even with all my cooking habits, I would have never thought to put cheese on a mushroom. Let’s just say I will be doing that way more often. Everything had a good savory element to it, but was amazingly not oily. To put it simply, I was in love. There’s no question if I would come back and get it again, because the answer will always be yes. 

My meat-eating family raved about their burgers as well. My sister’s cheeseburger met her expectations for a good basic burger. She even went as far to place it among her favorites. Usually coming with American cheese, ketchup, mustard, and pickles, Crave touches on all the elements. Although the patty itself was a lil rarer than medium, it spotlighted the added seasonings. This is a good option for your typical picky eater or for someone who likes a more simple flavor profile. 

The Standard switches things up with a house made thousand island dressing. It’s topped off with fresh romaine, tomato and pickles, giving the sandwich a fresh aspect. The cheddar cheese deepened the taste of the grilled patty. My father compared it to the McDonald’s Big Mac, but with much more sophistication. 

Crave offers a couple sandwiches that mix things up a bit by including different protein sources. The Soft Shell Crab BLT was my mother’s tasty risk. Two slightly deep fried soft shelled crabs remained in their shape. It definitely gave a unique and funny element to the burger. They were cooked to light brown crisp along with a couple pieces of salted bacon that complimented the crab meat. Arugula gave a peppery taste while the fresh tomato brightened the heavy meat. The addition of garlic aioli was a little too much, as it overpowered the main meat of the sandwich. Despite her efforts to be adventurous, my mother said she would not order it again. This was her second sandwich, and it simply did not compare to her usual order of the Korean BBQ burger. 

Each burger we received was on a soft brioche bun, slightly toasted. Those with cheese had it melted on top before adding other ingredients. I feel like this is a simple pleasure not many restaurants think about despite the elevation of flavor it presents. We did notice that all toppings were added on whether you want them or not. It’s a good idea to say that with your order if you aren’t a fan of something.  

Prices are very decent for a typical burger joint, ranging from $4$9 per burger and $2$3.50 per fry order depending on the size and seasoning. Salads are $2.50 for something small and $7 for more of a meal. I would be very willing to pay that amount for the quality I received. 

Crave Cafe is a perfect place for a night out with friends or family. It includes options for both vegetarians and meat lovers. I would like to see a possible vegan burger or something gluten free for the growing community of dietary restrictions. They do have a greens section on their simple menu, but I can’t give my opinion on anything there. I would assume their side salad could be a choice for vegans in a pinch. Overall, I loved everything I had. The burgers were top notch and quickly reached the tops of everyone’s favorites list. My family has favored Crave in the past, and now I finally understand what all the fuss was about. Even with the difficulty I had contacting them, the variety of choices definitely merit a second and third visit.