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Jfood hits Craftsman (MSP) - Fantastic

The last time Jfood visited Craftsman it was part of the 2009 Great Cheeseburger Hunt. With that escapade over Jfood returned to try some of the chef’s cold weather fare. So after working his way through his Garmin sending him down dead end streets (same as the first time) he arrived, parked and grabbed a seat at the bar.

As he spoke with the bartender, he discovered she really knew her menu, her restaurants, and her food up to showing Jfood the menu of that little restaurant in NY named Per Se where she ate the past weekend.

After a few discussion points, Jfood decided to order a half order of the Spaghetti Carbonara with guanciale, egg, cream and cheese as a appetizer and the Confit of rabbit leg with creamy polenta and a sauté of greens garnished with a honey gastrique as his entrée.

The server brought a few slices of bread and butter. The bread was very good but the butter was outstanding. It was difficult to not eat this quickly.

After a few minutes the Carbonara arrived. It was about the size of a fist. Atop the pasta was a nice amount of grated cheese and the first item Jfood noticed was the amount of guanciale. The bartender arrived and explained that the guanciale was house made. After a few bites Jfood thought this was once of the best Carbonara Jfood has ever tasted. He slowly worked his way through the entire dish.

After a short break the rabbit arrived. Jfood's first bite was the polenta. It was wonderful. And the polenta had a trace of the honey gastrique and the flavor of this sauce was beyond description. Now Jfood moved onto the rabbit. He slowly sliced a small piece and had a huge decision, eat it solo or place some polenta on it. Naked was the way to go. Perfect, perfect. Now it was time to blend the flavors. Jfood took a little rabbit, a little polenta and some gastrique and tried it all together. Eyes closed, slow breath and a big smile. This dish was like a big old-fashioned food-hug. Jfood continued through this delightful meal.

So Jfood will give Craftsman a big thumb’s up and thanks the entire staff for a great meal.

Craftsman Restaurant
4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

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  1. This is my favorite restaurant in Minneapolis. Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. I live in the neighborhood and enjoy the Craftsman once a month or so. Make sure you have the charcuterie plate next time. All home made/aged/cured etc. Maybe add a salad and you will be good to go.

      1. To piggyback off what dalewest said, Mike Phillips (Head Chef/Owner) is well known for his in house charcuterie program.

        This place is near the top of my 'must try' list.

        Thanks, as always, for a nice review.

        2 Replies
        1. re: BigE

          The bartender made sure to tell jfood the guanciale was house made. And given how great it was the meat platter looks like a real treat for the next visit.

          1. re: jfood

            i second, third, or fourth the recs for the fabulous in-house charcuterie plate--though it would be a huge app for a solo diner, close to a meal in itself. glad you went past the burger at the craftsman. i also rec the venison-- a fantastic cold-weather main. anything with local meats, chef mike phillips tends to knock out of the park.

        2. How was their wine list? Last (and only) time I was at Craftsman, about 6 months ago, the wine list was really unappealing to me. We ended up having beers instead...because they had some good stuff on the beer list.

          1. JFood thanks for the heads up on the rabbit. Outstanding dish. Wifey's venison was also good, but not as good as said bunny.

            I have to say I was really impressed with their cocktails. We both had the gibson with the house pickled spring onion. Dirtied with the pickling juice. GREAT cocktail.

            The creme brule using maple brown sugar was just the right note to end the meal.

            Service was exceptional. We told her we were trying to to make a movie and they got us 3 courses in 50 minutes. A shame to rush such a wonderful meal but it still paced out comfortably.

            We had such a good experience we set our Valentine's day reservation before we left!

            1 Reply
            1. re: GastronautMN

              I live in the neighborhood and had a great new years eve dinner at the Craftsman. I normally avoid going out on any of the major celebratory nights like New Years, Valentine's Day etc. I was *very* pleasantly surprised. (Great service and food) I might even book for V-day but that happens to be my 13 year old daughters b-day so??

              We had the Charcuterie plate which was perhaps better then ever ( we have had it several times.) The duck liver pate was awesome as was the aged ham. I took the venison for the entree and I can honestly say this was the tastiest piece of red meat I have eaten in recent memory. Perfect medium rare and nicely seasoned. If I understand correctly it is domestic raised red deer from a ranch/farm near Menomonie WI. It was served with a peal barley squash risotto which so tasty my whole family was treated to a barley risotto last night (Ok, not quite as good but I am working on it.)

              Between the great food and service it was a very pleasant evening. I am very happy to have this jewel of a restaurant just 6 blocks away from house.

            2. Thank you for this wonderful review! You just saved me from a long search (and one of those repetitive tourist posts -- "I'm going to (blank), where should I eat?!"). I read this review and picked up the phone to make a reservation for Friday.

              This will be my very first Minneapolis meal, and I'm really hopeful it's going to be great. If you're in Madison, I hope I can return the favor someday with a rec. of my own!

              4 Replies
              1. re: SLOLindsay

                I agree, it's a great review. And it has jfood's unique way with words, better than a National Geographic adventure story....

                "Now Jfood moved onto the rabbit..."

                1. re: SLOLindsay

                  glad to help and hopefully you enjoy it as much as jfood. Not the best of food weeks for jfood in MSP but he has 1 more this week and 2 next week.

                  Let the Board know how you enjoyed and they will guide you to numerous great eat-spots in the area.


                  1. re: jfood

                    I also want to thank you, jfood! My oldest son was in town over Christmas and was uncertain what to give his younger brother and wife (we have a troubled relationship.) He came across a mention of Craftsman, and I said, "I remember a review on Chow!" After checking out your review, he bought a gift card and his brother (and wife), who were very happy.

                    Boy, family is tough. : )

                    1. re: miki

                      glad to help. happy new new year