We kicked off 4th of July weekend with a memorable dinner at Tom Colicchio's Craft in New York City. The restaurant itself is beautiful - sleek and modern but with comforting colors. Blond wood tables and leather on the walls provide a warm atmosphere, as does the gentle light from filament bulbs hanging from the ceiling.
Upon being seated, we were welcomed by our waiter, served some water and then presented with the menu. The menu at Craft is somewhat different. There are several sections of first courses, then main courses and then sides. The idea is to pick a main and sides that go well together - in other words, to craft your own meal. For some that might be intimidating but the waitstaff answer any questions politely and knowledgeably. For me, it was a chance to have a little fun! The menu was full of fresh seasonal ingredients with some not-so-common things too!
Jeff and I each selected a first course that was a little unusual. I picked stinging nettle agnolotti. These were delicious little agnolotti stuffed with a bright green stinging nettle mixture. Simply prepared, they were garnished with just a touch of fresh cheese. Jeff thought they were a little plain, but I enjoyed them. He ordered the pig Ballotine (vegetarians beware!). The waiter had to explain to us that Ballotine is made by using the snout, feet, ears and other interesting pig parts. They're seasoned and cooked in a roll and then thinly sliced. It was served cool on a platter with tiny fresh seasonal vegetables that were lightly pickled. I tried it (with some hesitation) and it was really quite good - the meat had a rich deep flavor and the tiny morels and other veggies provided a perfect contrast.
For our mains, I chose braised halibut which was finished with an almond foam. Jeff selected braised short ribs. We shared garlic risotto and their signature hen-of-the-woods mushrooms for sides. I love halibut and I order it or cook it as often as I can get my hands on it. This was the best cooked halibut I've ever had. Each bite was tender and juicy.
The braised short ribs simply melted in your mouth. The best word I can think of for them is luxurious. Silky and rich, they were perfectly caramelized and were served with a few tiny onions and carrots.
The risotto and mushrooms were both perfectly prepared as well. Not a bite remained!
We don't always have dessert but we felt like trying something at Craft. We shared their Boston Cream donuts. Two small homemade Boston cream donuts were served with a small dish of cheesecake ice cream and a shot glass of malted chocolate milk. On the side was some homemade blueberry compote full of big juicy blueberries. The dessert was definitely good, but the dinner itself was much better.
We finished off the meal by sharing a glass of Moscato d'Asti, a sparkling white dessert wine that we first tasted not long ago at Esca. A crisp cool finish to the meal, we order it whenever we find it on menus.
Throughout the meal the service was gracious and attentive. Our wine glasses were never empty and we were well cared for.
I've watched Tom Colicchio again and again on Bravo as one of the judges on Top Chef. After dining in his restaurant, he may in fact be more deserving of that title than those he judges. If you find yourself in New York and want a perfectly executed memorable meal, try Craft.
P.S. On our way out, they gave us each a homemade zucchini muffin which we had for breakfast the next day. It was moist and full of fresh zucchini and cinnamon! Yum!