JANELLE DE SOUZA reviews Krave's new upgrades to its settings and menus, maintaining high quality meals and ambience.
Krave restaurant recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and the owners levelled up to celebrate.
The space was completely redone in colours and shades that suggest wealth and class, with gold and silver highlights as well as marble tops and tiles. Even the chairs were upgraded and added, not only to the look of the Marabella restaurant, but the comfort of the customer.
Two of the stand-out design elements are the eye-catching chandeliers in the main dining room designed by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, and the various (yes, more than one) nooks created specifically for taking social media photos. These include the main entrance downstairs, the Krave wall, one corner of the bar, the ladies’s room, and the staircase.
Damion Persad, director of Persad’s D Food King Group of Companies, explained, “It is the era of Instagram and our guests are always on the quest for instagramable images of our food, our drinks and themselves at Krave. Our interior architect Kami Jerome took up the challenge to create even more instagramable spots throughout the restaurant!...Krave’s award-winning Sunday brunch is called Around the world with Krave."
Krave is the two-time winner of the TT Table Talk Food Awards for best brunch.
"We are famous for a menu that offers cuisine from around the world so there are many global references throughout the space,” Persad said.
Another upgrade was the menu. The regular menu was tweaked, completely new items were added and some of the most popular items from Krave’s famous brunch were included. However, its anniversary menu was amazing and customers were treated to duck, shrimp, chicken, escargot, steak, lobster, salmon, sea bass, pork and tofu.
I enjoyed a creamy lobster bisque with fried lobster bites that added texture to the soup, and herbed butter-seared fillet mignon with a variety of herbed, seasoned, fried and otherwise prepared sides like rice, risotto, quinoa, potatoes, and vegetables.
As usual, Krave gave value for money so I had to ask for half of dinner to be packed in order to leave room for dessert. There were fancy versions of s’mores, baked Alaska, cheesecake, and sorbet. I zeroed in on the word “tiramisu” because it’s one of my favourite sweets.
Of course, when the dish came, I did not simply get a slice of cake. Placed in front of me was Tiramisu Petit Gateau with mascarpone mousse with a centre of ladyfingers or cake soaked in an espresso mixture, shortbread cookie crust, and Affogato (espresso coffee) ice cream. Delicious.
Persad said, “Curating our menu always falls primarily to executive chef Dominique Beens, although he incorporates input from the kitchen team and our leadership team. The food Krave offers has to be attractive to the Trinbagonian palate and our visual sensibility. Plus, we want our kitchen staff to be challenged and there is a commitment to incorporating some exciting international trends. It’s tough because you have to say goodbye to some items that guests love while being confident they will love the new dishes.”
Very little could be improved with the service. The waiters were prompt, friendly and offered suggestions, chef Beens visited the table to ensure everything was fine, and bartender Ravi Deonarine willingly made adjustments to the cocktails he created when requested.
“I think the greatest surprise has been how many people come from all over to dine at the restaurant. Somewhere between opening and now we have become a great restaurant and not simply a good restaurant for South.”
He said the main challenge over the past five years revolved around the economy and ensuring that the pricing remained accessible to customers even as elevated food and dining experiences were provided.
“We’ve been committed to planning, awareness, and competitive intelligence. We don’t wait for the impacts. We try to anticipate fall outs and strategise on offerings that will appeal to the guest and still keep the restaurant viable. It’s not always easy.”
Business development consultant Leslie Ann St John added that with the closing of the Petrotrin refinery, many of their customers lost their income. Therefore, the Krave team had to be creative in trying to keep prices down even as the restaurant’s costs increased.
Despite this and some human resource challenges, Persad said his biggest pleasure was the trust people placed in Krave with their special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. This proved to be true, as within two hours of being seated, the Krave staff delivered birthday deserts to at least three tables, and I witnessed an engagement where the bride-to-be was serenaded by one of Krave’s singers.
“The restaurant is still very much a refuge for people. You come, you have a great experience, you relax, you forget that you’re even in Trinidad because you feel very transported,” said St John.
She said the occasion is heightened at Christmas with Krave’s holiday experience which had something for everyone, from the hardcore meat lover to vegans. She said the daily Festive Buffet Lunches are favourites with families, teams and small companies.
“It has become a great way for guests to have a premium holiday experience which is not usually possible with their size of party. It is not unusual for strangers to leave lunch as friends after some high spirited singalongs.”
There is also a holiday three-course pre-fixed dinner menu with Christmas-themed dishes including salmon and cranberry cream cheese sushi rolls and Amaretto Ponche de Crème ice cream.
Krave’s holiday cocktails have been a critical part of the holiday experience over the years and for 2019 the Bad Santa, a smoked sorrel cocktail featuring premium rum, has joined the ranks of the Spanish Woman and the ginger beer mojito as a holiday classic.