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Crudo Brings Mediterranean-Inspired Upscale Fast-Casual to Carmel Valley

The sleek new spot serves lunch, dinner & brunch

Crudo Restaurant opens today at The Village at Pacific Highland Ranch, where it joins the recently-opened Westroot Tavern in adding new food options to Carmel Valley. The concept was founded by chef Pascal Lorange, who moved to San Diego from New York City where he spent a decade as executive chef and partner of the Fig & Olive eateries.

The well-traveled chef is looking to combine a full service experience with an affordable, approachable menu. Lunch will lean more casual while dinner will be more upscale. As its name suggests, Crudo will center around raw dishes, including carpaccio and sashimi; Lorange is even having special fish flown in from Nice, France on a monthly basis. The menu will source local ingredients and be almost entirely gluten-free, with lots of vegan and vegetarian options, but will also include housemade pasta, meat and seafood, including the chef's sushi-inspired fusion rice rolls with fillings that range from foie gras and smoked duck breast to spicy sesame and white balsamic-seasoned tuna. Rice is also the based of "pressed sushi" and "rice-tini" topped with everything from short ribs and gorgonzola to salmon, avocado and herb tapenade. Even kids will have their own menu options, including raw cookie dough to decorate, which will be baked up and served with ice cream for dessert.

The 3,300-square-foot space, which includes an outdoor patio and spacious lounge, holds a capacity of 170. From the main dining room, you can see through to the kitchen; it also holds a large 22-seat central bar, with a food station where carpaccio and 'rice-tini' dishes will be prepared. Lorange plans on hosting cooking classes twice a month in the space.

Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, Crudo will feature weekend brunch and stay open late Thursday through Saturday with DJ-provided lounge music. The weekday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. happy hour will offer specials from the full bar.

Lorange told Eater that he intends to multiply the Crudo concept; another location is already in the works for the Westin Hotel in Costa Mesa and he would like to open three more in San Diego — ideally in downtown, the UTC-area and Liberty Station.