Dinner at Craftsteak
Craftsteak is not exactly a restaurant on my to-eat-at list, but when big brother is footing the bill, how do I say no? In fact, I might even like Tom Colicchio. He seems like a pompous tool on Top Chef, but he doesn't irk me in the way that most celebrity chefs do. Plus, I love 'Wichcraft.
Craftsteak is super sleek and housed in a cavernous space. Before you can ponder a guess as to how much Colicchio and his investors must be paying in rent, you realize that you are going to help him make his rent in a very big way. Maybe I just don't have enough experience in fine (or should I say trendy?) dining but holy shit, this place was stupid expensive. I don't even want to know how much they were charging for a bottle of water. The servers kept filling our glasses over and over without hesitation. We probably had two full bottles' worth of water left in our glasses by meal's end. Were the french fries fried in rendered foie gras and sprinkled with salt from the tears of Hawaiian virgins because I had a hard time figuring out how else they could justify serving us a bowl of soggy, cold potatoes for $10. There were nice touches, like the rolls served in cast iron pans but for a table of 8 you think they would have brought out more than one dish of butter - and with two small pats at that! Ditto for the small crock of liver pate with pickled vegetables. For our table of eight, the waiter brought out one portion of this.
We started off with a grand seafood platter, which had some of the tastiest raw clams I've ever had. They were so cold and clean tasting. Give Craftsteak a point there, and another one for the oysters. Again, delicious. But again the dish was grossly overpriced. For $120 the platter consisted of a dish of lobster salad, a small portion of calamari salad, as well as another plate of crudo which I can't remember. There were also an assortment of clams and oysters - maybe 12-18 pieces total. Let's say there were 18 pieces of shellfish, at a higher end of the spectrum price of $3 a piece , that's $54. Even if you say the lobster salad was $25 (the price of your standard New York lobster roll, which contains about the same amount of meat), that's still leaving $40 for a squid salad and couple small pieces of raw fish? What the fuck?
I don't know, throughout the entire meal, I just couldn't get over the price of it all and it definitely factored into my enjoyment of the meal. Don't get me wrong, the two things in life I would shell out tons of money for without hesitation are good seats to a baseball game and food. But I want that money to be reflected in the food, not in the lighting, decor and leather for ridiculously oversized banquettes.
The steaks were fine, though lukewarm like much of the food that was served, as were most of the sides (the onion rings and potato gratin were my favorites). In addition to the soggy fries, the escarole was a big disappointment. I was confounded by the kitchen's choice to serve greens that have not been cut into smaller pieces with a serving spoon, rather than a fork.
To drink I had a Smuttynose Hanami Ale which was totally a new, strange taste for me. I did really enjoy it's crispness and tartness. With your check, Craftsteak sends you home with a chocolate chip brioche muffin, which DMR and I enjoyed for breakfast the next day. But unless they send you home with a rebate offer, I can't imagine ever coming home from Craftsteak feeling fully satisfied.