There's something about summer that begs for red meat to accompany all those light salads and that fresh produce. An aged steak, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to medium-rare perfection, topped with chimichurri, served with a corn salad. Yep, that's my idea of a great summer dinner.
But that is my ideal at home dinner. The thing with a steak is that restaurants mess it up often, and consumers usually end up paying a premium for branding and advertising, and not really for a superb cut of meat.
So when I'm craving beef and I'm dining out, I'm going for a burger. I can never get burgers to turn out quite as good at home as I can at my favorite burger joints. I'm a thin-patty kind of lass, but my attempts at home are thwarted by dry meat and crumbly burgers.
I've heard only good things about Crave Albany, the burger and frozen yogurt place on the corner of Western and Quail in Albany's Pine Hill neighborhood. And my hopes to find a great burger came to fruition there -- once I could decide on which burger to order.
Ultimately I went with the Crave Cheeseburger ($7.95), a standard option for a purist like me, with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, American cheese, and "crave sauce," which is that classic mayo/ketchup/vinegar blend that is a hallmark of a good American burger.
The burger, cooked medium, with all its accouterments, is served up on a soft, airy brioche-like bun that is lightly buttered and grilled. The pockets of air in the dough seem engineered to soak-up the grease drippings from the burger (which balances a pristine char with just-warmed juices) and that entirely crave-able Crave sauce. It is a solid example of what a burger should be, especially if you are a thin-patty fan, like me. (I want a burger, not a bread-enrobed meatloaf puck.)
It is no doubt better than what you would find at a typical fast-food joint, but if you are in a rush, you could get something comparable and quicker at Five Guys. (The bun and Crave sauce would be hard to match, however.)
(Note: I asked for my cheese on the side to accommodate the picky eater I was dining with. Hence it isn't melted into the crevices of the burger like others versions I saw. The lettuce is shredded, which I liked, and is tossed with some of the Crave sauce.)
We rounded out the order with an order of regular fries ($3.50), adding sides of red curry aioli and honey sage aioli (the better of the two) for $.75 each. A small sampling of frozen yogurt (chocolate and peanut butter) was a sweet ending but nothing to write home about.
For the non-purist, the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, Sorta Torta burger, and Upstate burger (Utica greens!) all sounded tempting. The Sweet and Greasy, a candied bacon and onion jam-topped burger served on a doughnut, is something I could live without.
No doubt, Crave is a great addition to the burger scene, and one I would happily return to when in that neighborhood.
Earlier on AOA: The art of creating a burger
217 Western Ave
Albany, NY 12203
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