photos by buck heidrick
Chef Jake Hambleton worked for his family’s sawmill business, but had always loved cooking. He and a co-worker, Mike Miller, started a small catering business on the side, and talked about expanding operations, possibly opening a food cart. As they grappled with Clark County regulations for food carts, they realized that the building they were considering for a “home base” kitchen could just as easily become a restaurant. And so, Crave Grille opened in downtown Vancouver in late 2011, serving breakfast and lunch to downtown workers, visitors and locals hunting for the perfect burger.
Hambleton is a self-taught chef, and most of his recipes are his own concoctions. “Our most popular items are our Kobe beef burgers,” he said. Sandwiches are a restaurant staple – from burgers to pulled pork, to roasted turkey, or a Cuban sandwich made with ham that Hambleton smokes on-site. “We also smoke our own salmon,” he said. On Fridays, “folks are beating down the door for the smoked salmon chowder.”
And with good reason. The salmon in the New England-style chowder is perfectly smoked and fills every spoonful. A cup is a hearty meal in and of itself, but visitors would do well to leave room for a burger or sandwich made to order, maybe with a side of waffle-cut sweet potato fries. Or, if you’re trying to behave, you could try a salad with house-made Caesar dressing, topped with portobello mushrooms.
Crave is a welcome addition to Vancouver’s growing dining scene, serving Hambleton’s basic, hearty food with a gourmet sensibility.
609 W. 11th Ave., Vancouver