Following the ins and outs of the restaurant business is like watching a soap opera without the commercials. One of my favorite make-believe shows is All My Crab Cakes, starring chef Chris Svalesen. I’ve been watching the Svalesen show for 10 years as he has been introduced and killed off in the kitchens of Yellow, Fish, 36 Degrees, and Go Fish. So far, his new show—er, restaurant—Sage, is compelling. Some of the characters have returned, including business partner Bradley Bandfield, the cheery, friendly host who roams the dining room and checks details. During a recent luncheon episode, I recognized several customers from Svalesen’s past. He has a loyal following and for good reason: this guy can cook. Especially when the script calls for seafood. At Sage, a lighthearted, light blue-walled restaurant in a funky strip mall on Inwood Road west of Lemmon Avenue, Svalesen’s signature crab cakes fell into lumps of fresh, sweet, buttery crab at the touch of a fork. A chilled avocado and cucumber soup topped with a dollop of minted cream was so salty our lips burned all afternoon. However, the inspired sandwiches—grilled eggplant, with roasted peppers, grilled onions, and basil pesto on grilled sourdough, and a Kobe beef Reuben—were stellar. Both required multiple napkins and a doggie bag. The dinner menu is small (eight entrées) and seafood-centric. Perhaps simplicity will give Svalesen more than one life to live at Sage. 3109 Inwood Rd. @ Cedar Springs Rd. 214-357-7243. $$-$$$.
Update: Sage has closed.