Monday, July 09, 2007

Restaurant Review - craftsteak

In celebration of Michael's birthday we headed to craftsteak for a fantastic dinner.

Once again a Tom Colicchio establishment put out a great meal with wonderful service. I don't know if we can pick a favorite between craft, craftbar, or craftsteak ( ).

I decided to try a signature cocktail, the Rojo-Rosato. A blend of strawberried grappa with Rose Cava (I tried to research the ingredients, and I think I have the capitalization correct). It was bubbly and pink, but not too sweet. It was tasty, but nothing I will be trying to recreate in my own kitchen.

Michael started his meal with the Wagyu beef tartare. He really enjoyed it - I was not interested in sampling (I just can't get past the rare beef thing). It was a large portion that was slightly spicy with a raw egg served on top. A good size bowl of home made potato chips were served on the side. The chips were delicious, super thin and crispy - just like potato chip lace, I probably could have finished off the entire bowl. I ordered the shrimp cocktail, which consisted of 6 medium size herb coated shrimp along with a nice cocktail sauce. The plating offered a small bottle of Tobasco hot sauce on the side, providing the diner the option to spice up the cocktail sauce. Nice touch from a restaurant that not only does not put salt and pepper on the table but did not ask how you would like your steak prepared.

While my shrimp cocktail was good, Lure Fishbar offers a far superior shrimp cocktail. The shrimp are larger and have a natural sweet flavor. If I go back to craftsteak I will definitely start with a different menu item, probably the Hen of the Woods mushrooms!

Along with our starters we were served an amuse bouche (tiny bite-sized morsels served before the hors d'Ĺ“uvre or first course of a meal) of liver pate topped with an apricot gelee. It was interesting - good flavor but it was not something I would from the menu. I prefer a dish with more texture.

For dinner I had the side pasta dish of crab and ham ravioli. They were topped with watercress and small sauteed button mushrooms in a light white wine sauce. The crab and ham mixed beautifully - the filling was slightly salty which balanced nicely with the light sauce. I also liked the option of having a smaller portion for dinner. The craft menus are put together so you can create your ideal meal, it's a great concept. For my side I had the Hen of the Woods mushrooms (of course). I cannot describe how good these mushrooms taste. The ends are crispy while the stalks are tender and meaty, the flavor is incredible. According to our knowledgeable waiter this is the peak of their growing season.

Michael enjoyed a New York steak topped with garlic confit and a side of shrimp and pea risotto. The steak was served with 4 sauces on the side: chimichurri, hollandaise, house steak sauce, and creamy horseradish. All four sauces were delicious, but the chimichurri and the hollandaise were outstanding. I tried a small piece of steak - it was the most tender New York steak I have ever tasted. It was delicious on its own and in each of the sauces. The risotto was full of shrimp and peas - the color was a nice verdant green and it was so creamy and delicious. You really can't go wrong with a risotto side.

The bread basket was a small cast iron skillet filled with soft, warm dinner rolls. They were topped with a little bit of oil and course salt. I was dipping the bread in to the chimichurri sauce and spreading them with soft garlic cloves from the garlic confit.

Of course we saved some room for dessert! I ordered the strawberry soup which was angel food cake topped with semifreddo creme fraiche and strawberry sorbet. It was finished tableside with a generous pour of sweet strawberry juice. The strawberry sorbet was outstanding - sweet and light it hit the spot after a big meal. The semifreddo creme fraiche was almost like a frozen piece of cheesecake, but with less tang. It sort of melted in to the strawberry juice in the bottom of the bowl and made a soft strawberry ice cream.

Michael enjoyed three scoops of ice cream - banana chip, cheesecake, and vanilla bean. Just as in craft, the ice cream was amazing. Well flavored and very creamy. The banana ice cream is the best, it tastes like fresh bananas and sweet cream.

As an added bonus, we were also given the cookie tray. It had about 8 varieties of house made cookies. While I did sample them all I can hardly begin to describe them. The bite size treats consisted of: brownies, blondies, apricot and nut biscotti, PB&J cookies, linzer tarts, fig bars, and chewy oatmeal cookies. My favorite were PB&J cookies - sweet strawberry jam sandwiched between small crisp and flaky peanut butter cookies. The oatmeal cookies were chewy soft and packed with spices - very flavorful. Rounding out my top three cookies were the blondies. They were sweet and chewy with a perfect crackly crust.

The treats didn't stop there - with the check they served bite sized lemon sandwich cookies and chocolate sandwich cookies with cream filling. These little treats were just one bite each. The lemon cookie melted in your mouth, leaving just a delightful lemon aftertaste. The chocolate cookie was soft and reminded me of a little tiny Devil Dog.

But wait, there's more - as a parting gift they sent us home with coffee cake muffins. I had mine for breakfast the next morning - how nice of them to make my breakfast so tasty. The muffin was not too sweet, very moist, and had a generous cinnamon swirl running through it. The best part was the traditional crumb topping. The muffin was perfect compliment to my cup of Dunkin' Doughnuts iced coffee.

In additional to the perfectly prepared food, we had outstanding service. The staff was attentive and informative without being overbearing. We asked no less than a dozen questions about the menu and our waiter patiently went through every detail. The staff also helped us with the extensive menu by making some great recommendations.

Well done Colicchio, well done!