In 1993, when Rich Hashway was a 21-year-old aspiring chef, a former kitchen colleague at Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg hired him as head chef at a fine-dining restaurant just over the border in Westtown, New York. Shortly after Hashway took the job, his boss told him that a New York Times reviewer might be coming. Hashway—now 43 and chef/owner of Krave Café and Caterer in Newton—thought the man was kidding.
“I think I was too young to be nervous,” he told me on the phone after my visits. The boss “came in three weeks later, threw the article on the counter and said, ‘You have to stop what you’re doing.’ I thought, Oh my god, what did I do?”
What he did was earn the restaurant 3 ½ stars. “It was surreal,” he says.
Fast forward to 2005. Following a decade of experience in various kitchens, Hashway opened Krave Catering in a Newton strip mall. A year later, he launched the restaurant. In 2010, when his landlord told him he was tearing down the strip mall, Hashway and his wife, Kate, who is also his business partner, moved the catering and restaurant to their present location in another strip mall.
Krave is small (two candlelit rooms, with a total of 45 seats) and soothingly designed. Warm whole wheat bread and caramelized-onion butter were quickly brought to the table. We found them too good to resist.
PEI mussels in various preparations are almost always available as a starter. On a recent visit, the mussels were roasted in a spicy tequila broth with black beans, corn and chorizo sausage—a spirited and delicious combination. One of the bestselling versions—green curry broth with pignoli nuts, raisins and cilantro—was novel and enjoyable.
We arrived hungry and our appetizers were slow in arriving, but they were worth the wait. Hashway’s large and delicious crab-and-corn cake was enhanced by two excellent accompaniments, a tomato-ginger chutney and a lemon basil aioli. The spicy, ground-lamb quesadilla, filled with feta and caramelized onion, was flavorful, but its heat needed a cooling condiment. We ordered what proved to be the perfect counterpoint to the spice—a creamy gorgonzola, balsamic and pomegranate fondue, served with sliced apples, celery and chunks of pumpernickel.
Worthy salads included a mildly spicy Caesar with chopped kale, hard-cooked egg, radicchio, white beans and asiago cheese (but too little dressing). All salads can be ordered with chicken, shrimp, tofu, steak or salmon for an additional $4 to $6. Our waitress asked us if we wanted to divide the salad on two plates, a nice gesture, but it came with a surprising $2 surcharge.
Pastas are excellent, especially fettucini with duck confit and oyster mushrooms in a goat cheese and roasted tomato sauce.
Hashway pulls in flavors from around the world, as in an entrée of seared sesame tuna in a hoisin-enhanced beurre blanc. A hearty Jamaican jerk-spiced veal chop came with a welcome cooling slaw.
Cumin-dusted lamb chops, ordered medium, came out rare, an error by our server, who apologized profusely. A sirloin steak special was cooked perfectly and served with a horseradish bread pudding. The pudding worked well with the steak, but left a bitter aftertaste when eaten on its own. Skirt steak is usually on the menu. On one visit it was done with a rewarding wasabi glaze and a side of crunchy sesame slaw. Tender veal medallions in a flavorful roasted shallot demi-glace came with watercress pesto polenta and a memorable asparagus and wild mushroom compote.
Pastry chef Charlotte Marggroff creates a range of winning créme brûlèes. I’ve had her mango, caramel-rum and cardamom-orange. They always have a perfect crackly crust and avoid the familiar faults of cloying sweetness and ponderous texture. Her tres leche cake, another often too-sweet dessert, was moist, light and smartly balanced with a tart raspberry-lime compote.Click here to leave a comment