Craft reminds diners of the basics of ambience and fine cuisine. From the oversized, workbench-inspired tables to the catwalk above the bar, Craft pays homage to the art & craft of preparing a meal. While this restaurant has clearly jumped the shark in terms of being hot or trendy, the tall, open space nevertheless still creates an ambience for a pleasant enough meal.
Acclaimed Chef Tom Colicchio, whose much-discussed menu gives diners control over the format and design of their meal, divides appetizers & entrees into main categories – fish & meat. Sides are listed as vegetables, potatoes, grains, or beans. For each category is divided into subcategories: marinated, roasted, braised, sautéed, etc. Prepared in a clean and simple style, a selection is deftly plated on its own dish, accompanied by a serving spoon or fork, and placed in the middle of the table. Diners then serve themselves. Is this bravado, genius, or pure marketing? On the one hand, diners are not locked into choosing an entrée based on what it is paired with, and so the focus reamins on the elements themselves. On the other, the object of such design is clearly to raise the price of the average entree above $40. For who in their right mind would otherwise pay $12 for a side of braised carrots?
For those who know what they want, such liberty is thrilling. For those who do not know, the menu can be too demanding. Or reductive. In considering the sparsely-worded descriptions, one should definitely ask the server for further details. So many choices can be bewildering, if not merely intimidating. We wondered about the absence of soups from a mid-winter menu. Well, the server told us, that night's amuse-bouche was a soup composed mainly of rutabaga and served in a shotglass. A pity it never arrived.
The best thing about the food at Craft is the high quality of the ingredients. Without this quality and the careful preparation, Craft would be a waste of time. Some diners complain about portion size, but we find this to be a non-issue. We found the reduction on the lamb to be a little too cloying, and that on the kobe beef skirt steak to have a heavy aftertaste. Such issues are minor, but detract from the value. Seasonal meat dishes--whether venison or pheasant--are fine choices. Expect the servers will hover over your table if you are a large party or quickly commit to $200+ bottles of wines. Otherwise do your best to get a server's attention on a night even when the dining room is only at 50% of capacity. You won't find European standards of service here, despite the high prices.
The intriguing wine list is extensive but not exhaustive. While it captures the mood of the space and enhances the menu, do not expect your server to have memorized the myriad choices. Wines by the glass will not disappoint, and the cocktail, aperitif and digestif selections are diverse enough. Desserts similar follow the create-your-own motif, yet unfortunately ride the wave rather than intrigue and titillate. Craft has become what so many other well-established venues in this category succumb to: feeding off the corporate and tourist teat.
There are no events taking place on this date.