FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Twenty years of Cravings
‘I’m a pasta guy,” Angelo Khoshaba tells me as we reminisce about the menu at Cravings Bistro in Marpole.
The restaurant just celebrated its 20th anniversary and over the years things have changed: menus, décor, staff, (and now the location of the entrance). Angelo’s smile and hospitality remains the same, and lasagna is still on the menu (under “From Then to Now”).
Surrounded by low-rise condos, just a block from Oak Street, and a couple blocks from Marine Drive, Cravings has become a neighbourhood “Cheers.” In the beginning, Cravings served soup and sandwiches. They grew into a wild jungle, then developed into a Mediterranean wine cellar, and have now adapted a global maturity. I’ve enjoyed every stage.
Even the advertising has matured. In the beginning, Angelo advertised on an old VW beetle he drove around town. I’m sure you’ve seen the newer model on the streets of Richmond—where Angelo and his family live.
I return to the place of memories on Friday night. On my left is the more subdued, classic dining room, known as The Atrium, with high ceilings and comfy chairs. However, I’m here for the live music, so I veer right to Cava, the cozy, inviting lounge. Singles at the well-appointed bar and groups of two to 10 fill the room. Age groups range from early 20s to blue rinse. (I appreciate a restaurant that attracts a diverse age group.)
Almost 8 p.m. and the Laura Crema Trio takes their place in front of the bay windows. My friend and I order from the tapas menu—Grilled Polenta with Wild Mushrooms, Baja Scallops, and Prosciutto Flatbread. Lena, our server, suggests Salmon Nori and we agree.
Chef Dmitri Aranov does an excellent job of fusing flavours and textures. I love the fact that I’m offered food that isn’t trendy and expected. By the way, the chef loves pea shoots and uses them liberally.
Laura Crema’s smoky voice enchants the room. We stop our conversation to applaud the jazz trio. Thanks to Cravings’ manager Karen Buck, the lounge will now host live music on Friday and Saturday evenings. The lineup includes the sounds of Brett Wade & Glenda Rae, UnoMas, Hemant Rao, Dino DiNicolo, Acoustic Grove, and Doug Towle (Spanish guitar).
If you want something other than the tapas menu, try the Cava Burger—organic beef on a ciabatta bun with house-made yam fries, Grilled Albacore Tuna with warm beet and potato salad, or Barramundi (Australian white fish) with roasted orange.
For those attending the Metro Theatre on Marine Drive, try the Dinner and Theatre pairing—$40 includes two courses and a theatre ticket. As well, Cravings is available for private parties, catering, and take out.
For something sweet at the end of our evening, my friend and I share an apple strudel—the best I’ve had in a long time—and watch the room slowly empty. It’s nearing 11 p.m.
“I’ll be back on the 29th for the set menu ($25),” my friend tells (or warns) Angelo. “I’m having the braised lamb.”
I have my eye on the past—veal parmigiana.
•Cravings Restaurant & Lounge; 8808 Osler St., Vancouver; 604 261 7779; www.cravings.ca
Arlene Kroeker writes about food every Thursday in The Richmond Review. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.