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Craft -- another great Restaurant Week lunch (Jan '08)

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I've always been a big fan of Craft. Which is surprising, given that I always thought Gramercy Tavern was way overrated. But from my very first meal at Craft, soon after it opened, I realized it deserved all the lavish praise I got. The finest ingredients, simply yet perfectly prepared. What's not to like about that? I hadn't eaten there in several years until today, but based on today's lunch they are still at the top of their game.

They told me on the telephone that Craft was booked solid through Feb. 1. So I went down and snagged one of the unreserved seats at the bar. A plethora of choices! 12 appetizers, 10 mains, 10 side vegetable dishes, and 5 desserts. So there are about 6 thousand possible meals you can have. I had pasta to start, in an iron bowl with stewed duck confit and a vegetable a lot like collard greens. Very good. My main dish was braised codfish cheeks. I always liked the braised dishes best and this was wonderful. Perfect fish, with vague hints of several different spices and red wine. Dessert was a banana tart, perfectly baked, with yummy caramel ice cream.

So if you're a fan of Tom Colicchio, head on over there. And even if you're not an admirer, go to this lunch. You'll come out a fan.

Note: I noticed that Craftbar around the corner had a RW lunch menu that also had ten choices for apps and entrees, and 5 desserts... in case you can't get in to Craft.

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  1. I just went to Craft last night for dinner for the first time ever and was absolutly blown away by how good the food was. I'll write my review later on when I can give enough attention to exactly what we had and how good it was but I'm with you. Craft is stellar in every way. I would run there for RW lunch if I didn't have to work!

    1. Funny, I was just about to post the same thing!

      I think they are able to do such a good job with RW lunch because they typically have a prix fixe lunch ($28, I believe). EDIT Oops it's $38! And the lunch service started fairly recently, so I think they're trying to get more people through the door.

      I had four oysters on the half-shell to start -- fresh, delicious, and slightly briny, but not overwhelmingly so. I had trouble deciding between the malpeque oysters and the fisher's island oysters. Our server steered me towards the fisher's island, and they were excellent. My main was braised monkfish cheeks. Nicely cooked, with three good pieces of fish served with dill and sage. My side was jerusalem artichokes. They were also excellent, very well roasted, quite flavorful, and I could have eaten an entire bowlful myself.

      My boyfriend had the bacon with apples to start. Three nice cubes of fatty, tender pork, with a great house-made mustard. People missing Gramercy Tavern's version may want to turn here. He had the pork, savoy cabbage, and jalapeno sandwich wiuth house-made pickles for his main. It was excellent. I only wish that 'wichcraft's sandwiches were this amazing! The jalapeno was spread out so the sandwich wasn't too spicy. He only let me have a few bites and I was tempted to steal it for myself. The house made pickles were a surprise. They were very lightly pickled and still quite crunchy/cucumber-y. Oh, and he opted for the assorted mushrooms for his side, and they were great. Tender, meaty, sweet, and everything high quality mushrooms should be.

      Our desserts were donuts with vanilla ice cream and apple butter. The donuts were a combination of holed and holes. Cute! And the vanilla ice cream was really good. Strong vanilla flavor, fresh tasting, and you could really taste the specks of vanilla bean. I had a sampler of 3 ice creams, choosing caramel (good and with little pockets of salt), coffee crunch (looked like chocolate chip, kinda, and very powerful coffee flavor), and malted milk (a very strong malt flavor -- it was actually overwhelming to me, but I liked it).

      1. I absolutely agreed with all of you here! I had a wonderful RW lunch at Craft, a place that I dine often for dinner, but first time for lunch. I was not disappointed at all! I believe the RW lunch menu was almost the same as the regular lunch menu, with only very few dishes (like 1 or 2 dishes from each category) removed.

        Similar to you, Brian S, I had the monkfish cheeks for my main and I chose it because it was hard to see any fish cheeks on the menu. It came with the red wine sauce which I believed was the same as yours. It was very delicious.

        The sides that they offered for selection were almost completely the same as their regular lunch menu, which was delightful. Dessert options were the same without any omission. I certainly think that they didn't skimp on food or quality during RW.

        I believe their prix fixe lunch is actually $38 or a la carte, which is not expensive at all in NYC given the caliber of the restaurant. Now that it is $24 during RW, it is truly a bargain!!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: kobetobiko

          Wow, $38? I guess I need to get my hearing checked. :)

          It is indeed a bargain, then. I was pretty much stuffed full of food after lunch.

          Here's the menu BTW
          http://www.craftrestaurant.com/craft_...

        2. Great review. I did the exact same thing for Monday, rejected for the reservation but walked up to the bar.

          The Bartender provided excellent service, took time talking about what was good. He said the menu was their "Greatest Hits."

          My meal consisted of the quail to start off. It was a perfectly grilled, well seasoned. For my main I had the roasted Jerusalem artichokes and the braised pork cheeks. (there must be something about cheeks on this board.) As somebody earlier mentioned they were very tasty and could eat a whole bowl of it. I would have liked the sauce for the pork cheeks to have a little more salt in them. The cheeks themselves were fork tender.

          Dessert leads me to my only criticism. I ordered the chocolate tart with the shooter of Hazelnut Hot Chocolate and a full size Hazelnut Hot Chocolate. I thought the Hot Chocolate was a recommendation - not as an included accompaniment. I wish the bartender would have mentioned that to me. The Tart was nice, the shooter of Hot Chocolate was nice. I didn't receive my cup of Hot Chocolate until I was well finished with my dessert. I was actually asking him to cancel it and just give me the check when it finally arrived. And it was very good, especially on the cold Monday.

          But after watching Top Chef for two seasons (was in HK for the first) I have to say I'm really happy finally going to Craft.

          1. I just came back from another wonderful Restaurant Week lunch at Craft. Despite the downpour, six people were waiting outside when the restaurant opened. If you weren't one of them, you'vfe missed it. Restaurant Week is officially over. But in case someone next summer wants RW recs and finds this post, here's what I had.

            I've been to Craft quite a few times and always ordered braised dishes. They are so wonderful! But today I deliberately went all roasted... and I'm glad I did.

            First course: A whole roasted quail, perfectly cooked, juicy, with a hint of rosemary and balsamic vinegar.

            Main course: Four lovely scallops harvested by divers off the rocky coast of Maine. Seared on one side with a hint of pepper, then roasted with a bit of melted butter and wine around them. Lovely flavor.

            Dessert: A flourless tart oozing melted chocolate and a shooter of hot chocolate milk.

            Too bad Restaurant Week is over!