Restaurant Review: Cray Eatery & Drinkery
A restaurant with a menu that’s centered on an array of mini-burgers: sounds legit. Certainly, it’s as legitimate as a restaurant with a menu centered on chicken wings… or gourmet burgers, or pizza or ramen.
Cray Eatery & Drinkery is the name of the new mini-burger joint. It’s set up shop in the Wonder Bread Lofts building. Cray seems perfectly situated as a gathering spot for the neighborhood residents. It does, in fact, feel a little like a BW-3 (per the earlier wings reference). Cray has fewer TVs, but a soaring ceiling, lots of bar seating, and female servers in company t-shirts.
The mini-burgers, or sliders, are all priced in the four-dollar neighborhood. It’ll take two or three to make a meal. It seems like the best way to approach the joint is with a sense of adventure and try one of each. Or at least, one of most. Here’s the unofficial ranking:
1) ABC Turkey Slider ($4). This is perfect. The ground turkey is seasoned and topped with crunchy bacon, smooth avocado and provolone and ranch to tie it all together.
2) Cheesy Meatball Slider ($4). This little meatball combo inspired cravings for more, immediately. So, maybe it should be #1. Whatever. It’s not that the ground meat is specially seasoned. It’s the fact that it’s cuddled up in a thick and chunky tomato sauce with lots and lots of melty mozzarella inside and out.
3) Pesto Chicken Slider ($3.50). This is pulled chicken, in the key of a green, briny pesto. Cute.
4) Grilled Cheese ($3). Lots of cheese here -smoked cheddar, bleu, provolone.
5) Buffalo Chicken Slider ($4). See #3, key of BW-3 with bleu cheese and celery.
6) JagerMeister BBQ Beef Slider ($4.50). Jagermeister tastes like cough syrup. It’s probably a good idea to remember that before ordering anything flavored like Jagermeister; because it makes barbecue sauce taste like super-sweet cough syrup. Once that thought is in your head, it’s hard to enjoy the rest of the burger.
7) Duck Slider ($4.50): The duck burger is evidently popular, but not a table favorite. The ground duck burger itself comes across as a little bit “animally” in flavor, and it’s paired with a cloying syrupy spicy topping. The turkey is a better bird.
There are some salad options too. The Kale Caesar ($4) sounds like it might have upscale leanings, but it arrives in a little paper ramekin, just like the burgers. No complaints: the shards of kale are tender and oddly (but wonderfully) un-bitter. They mix it up with croutons, parmesan and some dressing that’s great in a fun, junk-food way.
The other salad tried was the Watermelon Salad ($4.50). It’s an interesting mixture of things: watermelon, rosewater, quinoa and fatty bacon nuggets. It gets points for unusual-ness, and use of rosewater -but the Kale Caesar is much more lovable.
The eatery teams its impressive burger selection with a selection of drinks that feature infused booze. You can wash those burgers down with Pickle Vodka or Rum Raisin. There’s even a cocktail menu that offers blends using components such as smoked ginger infused vodka or pepper infused tequila.
You can find Cray Eatery & Drinkery at 697 N. Fourth Street. According to the website’s posted hours, it opens weekdays at noon, and stays open until 2:30am. On weekends, it opens at 11am, and it does serve brunch options.
For more information, visit www.crayeateryanddrinkery.com.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.