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PHOTOS: Crave Fishbar Brings a Taste of Montauk to Amsterdam Avenue

By Emily Frost | December 18, 2015 10:04am | Updated on December 21, 2015 9:01am
 Crave Fishbar will open its doors for dinner on Monday, Dec. 21 after a full gut renovation of the space at 428 Amsteram Ave. 
Crave Fishbar
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The newest outpost of seafood spot Crave Fishbar is set to open in the space formerly home to barbecue joint Brother Jimmy's, boasting a "beachy, coastal feel" befitting of Montauk, the owner said.

"We try to be nautical without being too nautical," said co-owner Brian Owens of the eatery, which is opening its doors Monday at 428 Amsterdam Ave., between West 80th and 81st streets. 

The latest incarnation has a less rustic feel than Crave's Midtown East location and more space for the front-of-house oyster and raw bar area, Owens explained.

The Second Avenue outpost's menu of seafood dishes, sashimi and crudo, more than a dozen types of oysters and a few non-seafood items will remain the same at the new location. The menu is roughly 80 percent gluten-free — and that includes the calamari, Owens said.

Crave will also keep its daily oyster happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m., when all of its oysters — West or East Coast — are sold for $1 each. 

The restaurant will serve only dinner for now, with a late-night menu offered from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Weekend brunch will arrive in a few weeks and, when spring returns, it's hoped there will be 25 outdoor seats, Owens said.

The co-owner, who has partnered with Chef Todd Mittgang, wanted to bring their latest venture to a neighborhood where they could cultivate regulars. 

"There's really no stronger neighborhood," Owens said of the Upper West Side. 

The seafood served at Crave must be sustainable in the way it's caught and cannot come from over-sourced areas or populations, he explained. 

Not only is the raw bar craze hotter than ever, but Owens saw an opportunity to enter the middle space with his seafood — not so high end it's unreachable, but not simply seafood-shack fare, either. 

Inspired by a trip to Charleston, S.C., his team put together a menu of batch cocktails, like a Moscow Mule, that a group can order together. That will add to the fun atmosphere he anticipates seeing in the open front room.

The 30-seat front area includes spots at a 25-foot-long soapstone bar, as well as seats along the wall in banquettes, while the back holds 45 and serves as a more "refined" sit-down dinner section that includes a working fireplace, Owens said. 

Custom-made leather chairs in seafoam green dot the restaurant, booths are upholstered with a muted plaid, brass mirrors hang from ropes, and paintings of seafarers and ships hang from the walls. 

The space's gut renovation involved installing silver pine oak with a herringbone pattern along the ceiling and walls, exposing windows at the back and painting a custom undersea themed mural.

"It's a beachy, coastal feel," Owens said of the space, noting it's more on par with a restaurant one would find in Montauk or the North Fork rather than a classic New England spot. 

Being on "restaurant row" — which he described as running along on Amsterdam Avenue between West 79th and 86th streets — was part of Owens' goal of catering to locals. He hopes to get to know people by staying stationed near the hostess table during the opening weeks and months. 

Crave Fishbar Upper West Side will be open Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Reservations are open for any night after Monday at Opentable.com.  

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