Craft menu- what's a 'can't miss'?
I'm going to Craft tomorrow night and after seeing the menu online, I'm already overwhelmed. Any suggestions on things we must try? FYI - not much of a beef eater (my bf is), i'm going mostly for the starters and seafood.
thanks for any tips!
Ran up a huge bar bill at Craft recently (you can order off the regular menu at the bar). Finally tried that mushroom assortment. Nothing particularly wrong with it, but not life changing. Wouldn't order it again for $22. Didn't like the clam dish at all - breaded clams - reminded me of frozen fish sticks. What was truly absolutely amazing was an off the menu dish of octopus with tzajiki. My friend heard the bartender talking about it. so we asked if we could get it (not sure why it is not on the menu). I definitely recommend seeking it out.
The glazed donut dessert with chocolate pudding was also very good (I could get addicted to it). We were split about a pine nut tart with rosemary ice cream. My friend liked it, but I was unable to choke down the ice cream - the rosemary made it taste like cough medicine to me. The tea (Earl Grey) was pretty good - not as good as the quality of tea you would get in a fine New York restaurant - but I appreciated that at least they were trying by offering loose tea. Pinot noir by the glass also quite good (I forgot which one) - definitely better than the wine by the glass at a lot of upscale L.A. restaurants.
About that pine nut tart - on our last visit to Craft a few weeks ago, the server suggested the pine nut tart and I was skeptical because of the rosemary ice cream. While I don't dislike rosemary, I find it can be overwhelming. On the other hand, I'd been very pleased with every flavor of ice cream we'd tried at Craft up to that point, and in general I'm pretty open minded about ice cream flavors. The server pretty much insisted and he actually bought the dessert as well as a couple of others for our table. Anyway, the tart itself was very good but the ice cream was, to my thinking, absolutely inedible. If I ever have that dessert again, I would ask for a different ice cream.
Everyone's spot on with the roasted mushrooms. Our other faves are the Arugula Salad and the Roasted Beets as starters, The pureed potatoes are luxurious and silky. If you're not much of a beef eater, I like the Diver Scallops, but if your bf likes meat and doesn't want such a huge hunk of meat (20 oz?!?!), the Waygu flatiron is superb. Craftsteak in Vegas also offers an elderflower champagne cocktail - have one of those for me!
What did you end up ordering?
I was a little underwhelmed by my lunch at Craft. Ordering strategy for four people was as follows: two prix-fixe meals (so we were able to order everything offered on the prix-fixe), 4 apps, 4 sides, one additional dessert.
Loved: the Wagyu tongue with fresh chickpeas and mini-falafel; panna cotta with citrus
Enjoyed: the cardoon gratin. I decided that cardoons are too much of a pain to clean and cook at home, so I order them whenever I can. They have a delicate flavor and were somewhat upstaged by the bacony breadcrumb topping, but I still enjoyed them.
Enjoyed, but have had superior versions elsewhere (and at less expensive restaurants):
Quail with huckleberry, roasted octopus, roasted broccoli
Had high expectations for, but was disappointed by: the pork belly with dates (it was overcooked - this was my first time having overcooked pork belly at a non-Chinese restaurant), the gnocchi (managed to be gummy despite being fairly light - sauce seemed to be just melted butter).
I wouldn't recommend the prix-fixe lunch - at least, not with the items I had - the salads were fine (one was mostly endive, I think the other was citrus and fennel - I found a wilted leaf in the endive one, and thought the fennel was overdressed). The fish (halibut? I can't remember) was overcooked and didn't taste fresh. The steak was ok. It was not superior to one I cooked at home last week. Desserts were good.
The biggest problem, though, was the pacing of the dishes - we had loooong gaps between courses - maybe twenty minutes each?
Anyway, there's a good possibility that I got the "B" team in the kitchen - it was the day after Christmas - but I probably won't be rushing back to give them another chance any time soon.
I agree with you as well. We just came back from a dinner at Craft on Dec. 27, and it was... OK at best. The ambience and service were actually very nice: a beautiful setting at night, and the service was solid, not too imposing, always removing plates when finished, etc. Nothing fussy.
But the food was the disappointment for us: We had
* Pork Terrine appetizer: Honestly it tasted like a refined version of lunch meat. :( It wasn't oily or heavy, and there were some nice spices used in it, but the total taste of it was just a step up from SPAM or lunch meat. Sigh.
* Turkey Egg, Sweet Shrimp: This was a nice appetizer and well done.
* Pork Shoulder: It was tender enough, but overcooked, and the combination of flavors was underwhelming. Shanghai style Pork Shoulder (Ti Pahng) at SGV's better restaurants have a far better taste and half the price.
* Wild Mushrooms Assortment: Very fragrant and tasty, but too salty.
* Jerusalem Artichokes: Best dish of the night! Very tasty, almost like potatoes, and wonderfully cooked. Not too salty, either.
* Braised Leek & Duck Confit Risotto: It was ~Ok. Not great, but not bad either.
Given the total cost and the LA Times rating this 3 out of 4 Stars, I was expecting more. I might've been spoiled having just gone to Providence, Comme Ca and Osteria Mozza in the last 4 weeks :), but seriously, it ended up being disappointing.
That's too bad. When we visited in October the food was solid - nothing oversalted, and if anything the food came out faster than was necessary. We didn't have anything you ordered though - maybe harder to mangle kobe and foie.
It was so good my hubbie had to think for a minute when I offered him the choice of going to Craft again for his upcoming birthday versus going to Spago...
The roasted mushroom side dishes are phenomenal. I always get the assorted mushrooms. It seems insane to spend $21 on mushrooms, but they are phenomenal.
The short ribs are very good, but you may want to leave it to your boyfriend. I really liked the quail with huckleberry appetizer. (It was actually larger than most of the entrees.) If they have scallops, they will also be excellent.
The gnocchi side dish also is fabulous, but very rich and buttery. I have also enjoyed the fois gras appetizer.
The salted caramel tart is a great dessert and I have enjoyed most of the ice creams I've tried. They usually have some type of poached fruit dessert -- I've had peaches and apples -- and those are uniformly good.
One of my gripes about Craft is that the chef has a tendency to add fleur de sal crystals to a lot of items. I understand the idea, but it seems like some of the food is over-salty.
I noticed that the online version is a little bit different than the one I received when I went.
Must try - potato gratin, donuts, olive oil gelato. I think they changed the prep of the foie gras, but if they have a seared version go for it if you love foie.
I actually didn't care as much for the fish as the rest of the dishes we had, but it seems like that particular item had been replaced.
Remember - the portions are meant to be shared family style. We find the portion for the side dishes to be especially large.