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Craft - Perfect Service

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Frank_Santa_Monica Jul 19, 2007 12:18 AM

Had a wonderful evening at Craft, and experienced excellent service the entire evening. The food, I can't say is revolutionary (and a little on the expensive side), but they make up for that in service.

The moment you walk in, it is obvious where the power tables are. Brian Grazer in the 1st booth, and a few big time agents at another. We were seated at the WORST table in the place, table 48, right next to their computer system. Apparantly, the coveted places to sit are outside (which we requested, but were denied), and along the perimiter of the room. Once we started rolling, my friend and I didn't seem to mind table 48 at all.

The table setting is absolutely beautiful: a lit candle, polished silverware, and white porcelain. I turned over the plate and noticed it was Bernardaud. You gotta be going for some serious stars to be laying out the Bernardaud. Our server said they are taught to lay the plates so that in case a guest flips the plate over, "Bernardaud" can be read right-side-up. Talk about detail.

As we were getting settled, I noticed the servers standing straight, with their hands behind their backs, waiting for us to settle in. The servers are all young, tall, slender, and elegant. The chubbiest guy in the place is the manager, but he really does a superb job. The servers are really well-polished. Just in the way they pour water, they will turn a little to the side so as to not splash on you. And, when they are speaking to you, they are still holding the water pitcher (or whatever they are holding), and standing straight. They will not end a conversation or leave, or act rushed at all. If you are walking toward a server, they will immediately move clear out of the way.

My friend wanted a cigarette, but our server didn't smoke (none of the employees are allowed to smoke). So, get this... Our server went to a store to purchase a pack of cigarettes (of course we tipped him, but he kept refusing the tip).

The food: Foie Gras. Not the best foie gras I've had by far. I much prefered Jiraffe's and Spago's (when they had it). There was nothing innovative about the presentation at all. The menu said the Foie was roasted and served with strawberries. It was ok.

For the mains, I had the Sablefish, based on our server's rec. My friend had the Bass. I only remembered one side dish, which was potates au gratin (had better). Again, nothing spectacular, but maybe I should have ordered something else.

So, the food wasn't ground breaking for the big price tag ($250 for 2, 2 glasses of wine, 1 cocktail, coffee and 1 dessert). What I like the best is they don't try to sell you the most expensive items on the menu. I really appreciated that. And, they aren't trying to rush you out the door. We were there 3 hours.

Dana, the sommalier at Cut, is the most impressive restaurant employee I've ever encountered. The servers at Craft are a close 2nd.

I will definitely return to Craft. I mean, I go to the Ivy at the Shore for goodness sakes, and have to pay those prices. Craft is a great business dinner restaurant. Wouldn't want to do a tasting menu there, or go for food, but it's a wonderful evening.

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  1. r
    RicRios RE: Frank_Santa_Monica Jul 19, 2007 08:47 AM

    "The servers are all young, tall, slender, and elegant."

    It'd be nice to email them ( jobs@craftrestaurant.com ) asking if they are an "equal opportunity employer" ...

    1. s
      sam1 RE: Frank_Santa_Monica Jul 19, 2007 08:57 AM

      i found my server to be a total part time actor. sort of uncomfortable with my party actually. when he was comfortable, he sounded a bit pompous.

      as for the food, nothing mindblowing...much like gramercy tavern. id much rather go to veritas or emp.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sam1
        SauceSupreme RE: sam1 Jul 19, 2007 09:04 AM

        Veritas is a bit of a drive from Century City.

        In Los Angeles, I'm amazed when a server/bartender *isn't* a part-time actor.

        1. re: SauceSupreme
          f
          Frank_Santa_Monica RE: SauceSupreme Jul 19, 2007 09:43 AM

          You get a bigger bang for your buck at Veritas, that's for sure.

      2. d
        diningdivala RE: Frank_Santa_Monica Jul 19, 2007 09:28 AM

        First: "the chubbiest guy in the room, BUT he really does a superb job." Tall, slender = good waiters? Chubby = bad. Glad you gave it to him anyway.Sheesh.

        I've been in a few times already and feel the service lacked. Everyone was learning. Not that they weren't professionals, they were. But our server and back server were just not in synch. It took forever for either to come to us for drinks (like 15 minutes), a waiter cautiously walked up to us, we said we're ready to order, he said I'm not your waiter but I can take your order. Huh? We order our drinks. 5-10 minutes later, the head waiter comes over to take our drink order. Huh? then we said we already ordered those, but we're ready to order our food. she says OK. We start asking questions, you can tell she didn't know the menu too well, but did her best. It seems like when it came to recommendations, they just picked what they actually tasted, which wasn't a lot. So we order. We're gabbing..la did da...gab gab gab. Hey, where are our drinks? back server sees that we're looking around, you can see the lightbulb over his head ("Drinks!") and returns with a lukewarm martini covered in condensation on the side, and a bottle of wine to pour a glass at the table for my friend (a nice touch). I like my martinis extra cold, and this obviously was...once. I ask for a glass of ice. To their benefit, the waiter did ask if I wanted a new martini. No, just a glass of ice please.

        Food starts to arrive. We're happy. We like most of the dishes. We see the salad with bacon is actually bacon wrapped onions. Oooh. Good thing we both like onions, but wish we knew that. And there was cheese on it. And some kind of vinaigrette, but our server didn't know what it was and she had to go ask the kitchen. Then the entrees and sides arrive. Here's the thing: Why serve mushrooms in sauce...with a fork? Why serve corn in a sauce...with a fork? How many forks do we have on the table now? 10. Which ones mine? No idea. Just keep eating. Glad we have spoons as our table setting or else we'd be eating corn sans sauce.

        To note: Our water glasses were always full. Our bussers didn't overzealously try to remove plates before we were done. Then again, that martini i put in a glass? Yeah, that glass was there after dessert, coffee, dessert wine. Right there. Never moved. Empty.

        My point: Yes, Craft will be very good. But that service staff is still figuring things out. We overheard several of them complaining about others who couldn't keep up, some knew what they were doing, others didn't. Very few have actually tasted the food, if even seen it ordered.

        But it's only one week. It will get better, and we will return.

        1. c
          chef74 RE: Frank_Santa_Monica Jul 19, 2007 11:18 AM

          We ate at craft last night (wednesday) -lots of empty tables and no star sighting -althoughit was a wednesday... It was a beautiful night and we asked to be seated outside - no problem. But then we got to our table and there was this LOUD noise -like the airconditioning system for the whole building, or something- the staff was really nice and kept offering us different tables. We wanted to stay outside, so we moved to a table a little further away from the railing. Our reservation was at 7:30 and the noise lasted until about 9 - so just an FYI for anyone dinig there during the week who wants to sit outside. Hopefully they will figure out how to fix that!
          The service was pretty good - I can see how they are trying, and knowing that they just opened a week ago, I am pretty forgiving. We were served someone else's food mutliple times, and there were a few mistakes in beverage service.
          I totally agree about the forks - we ordered the gnocchi and some other items that I wished I had a spoon to bring the sauce to my plate.
          I think that the food was pretty forgettable - in my opinion most of the dishes needed salt. But i ordered the octupus appetizer and felt that it was way too salty - but it was very tender and delicious otherwise.
          The desserts were nice - we had some delicious sorbet and the pundcake dessert - the poundcake itself was pretty bad, but we really enjoyed the fresh berries and the Olive Oil Ice cream. We also really enjoyed the chocolate toffee that they served as mignardise at the end of the meal.
          I probably won't go there again - unless invited by someone else, but it was a nice evening and a fun experience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chef74
            r
            rftc2121 RE: chef74 Jul 19, 2007 11:44 AM

            I was at Craft late last night after work. I tried the Octopus and the Sweetbreads apps. When they brought out the Octopus my jaw dropped...the sucker was huge. Though it was over salted, it was possibly the most tender and succulant octopus I've ever had...definitely beating out Dmitri's in Philadelphia. The Sweetbreads were also delicious, though the dish didn't go as well with the wine I was drinking as the Octopus. Again the presentation was superb as they presented the sweetbreads in their "natural form" (i.e. not broken up but intact). They were breaded and served with au jus and some sort of relish. Absolutely delicious.

            I had a Reisling by the glass that was rather sweet and almost tasted like cider.

            to any extent I can't wait to go back again after a long day at work...it's great to have a good meal within walking distance.

            Also, as far as celebrities, Brian Grazer was there among a few other familiar faces...but he was by far the most prestigious. Well besides the chef.

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