Craft-More than meets the Menu

Craft NYC

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Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Sophisticated rustic/industrial decoration of a high-ceiling space; sparse and warm at the same time, and the tunes are rock n roll
  • sip: Persian cocktail; also a spicy tequila drink with a witty name
  • savor: Just about everything is delicious, take your shot, its like menu roulette if you don't get any explanations; donuts
  • sit: This is a pretty adult place- with family for a special occasion, with your significant other for a date night
  • spend: $$$$
  • address: 43 East 19th Street (between Broadway and Park)
  • phone number: (212) 780-0880
  • website:

I have learned from Top Chef to not question Tom Collichio. However, I do I have one question that I would love to ask him; I have not done too much research, and the answer might be found on the world wide web, but I am just dying to ask ” Tommy, (I mean, as long as I am imagining) Tommy, what do you have against descriptions for your proteins?” I know that is Craft’s thing, and the food really does speak for itself, but I don’t understand the spartan menu. The menu structure at Craft reminded my mother of chinese menu ( a little of column a, a little of column b) and it reminded me of a steakhouse. A steakhouse is the only other restaurant that I can think of that offers no description for its proteins (its meat, its aged, its charred, its dead) and serves their dishes with no accompanianments, encouraging the ordering of many sides.

I realize I could have inquired about this system to our server, except we didn’t have one. It was really the oddest thing. We chose Craft to celebrate Mother’s Day (albeit the Saturday night before), and we were settling in nicely, jamming to the classic rock on the sound system and waxing philosopichal about the art, when we were offered our choice of water and some beverages. We had our menus in hand, and the runners were all really smiley, but the only time we saw our bespecaled waitress was when she came over to describe how the menu works. That was it. She never returned. After about 40 minutes, we managed to flag down a woman in a suit, who was very verbose and helpful in describing some of the dishes, and she apologized and took our order. We saw our server waiting on other tables, but she never made eye contact or came by our table. The manager in the suit was our server pretty much the rest of the night, we just were fully ignored or seated in some black hole in between sections. For our troubles, we were sent some additional oysters to the ones we ordered. Thanks.

The food was all excellent, bright crisp flavors and not too fussy. Simple is not the right word, more like straight-forward and clean. Besides the oysters ( I was dying for oysters), we started with a hamachi crudo, sweet pea agnolotti, and shishito peppers. The agnolotti was a star dish, dense in all the right ways yet also light; the crudo was a fresh bite and the shisito peppers were surprisingly spicy. There was also a tasty amuse for our bouche, octopus I think.

For our entrees, we mainly stuck with items from the sea, with two orders of salmon, a cod and a halibut. All of the main courses are portioned for one person, but all served in a way that would suggest family-style, which I really didn’t understand. I simply moved my salmon from the plate it came on onto the plate that was placed in front of me, and added my sides. Like a steakhouse, we opted for roasted hen of the wood mushrooms (Craft offers four different kinds) and potatoes gratin, which were obviously gooey and crunchy and beyond. My salmon was cooked just the way I like it, and all of the other dishes were on par with the extensive flavor profiles and subtle touches that we had come to expect at that point.

I didn’t plan to stuff down dessert, because I can usually resist, but the donuts at Craft are a craveable caloric indulgence that should not be missed. A combination of donuts and holes are served with a strawberry and chocolate sauce on the side, which nicely coat each the sugar on the outside of the donuts. We also had some mint chocolate chip gelato, but let’s face it, mint chocolate chip anything is amazing.

We were comped some of our wine and our after dinner drinks because it was pretty obvious that we never had a server. Our suited server stand-in said good bye to us at the door, and we left more than slightly full but also a little puzzled. The food and flavors at Craft may need minimal descriptions, but the service needs more than a little explanation.

Craft NYC
Craft NYC
Just for the Halibut
Craft NYC
Bent spoons, very AMUSEing
Craft NYC
We go nuts for Craft's donuts

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