Craft: Memory Food That's Memorable
There's a new kid in town and, at four months old, has matured into a most sophisticated young adult. It's called Craft and its owner, Tom Colicchio, brought this delicious concept three thousand miles West to delight his Los Angeles clientele. He calls what comes out of his kitchen "Memory Food" and one thing is certain, Tom does not lie.
First of all, it's a most beautiful destination: wooden floors, large wooden tables, booths, banquettes; all simple, all strong. The Edison lights shed just the right glow and warmth for which they were created. The spacious room enhances the dining experience, giving you a sense of the largess you're about to experience with the generous portions of food you will be served. Like Thoreau, Tom believes in simplicity and the pursuit of "making good food" so he and his chefs continually change the menu's offerings to suit the current availability of the right meats, fish, poultry and vegetables. Nice!
We were fortunate to land one of those magnificently large booths designed for six. We came to discover we'd need all the table room to hold all the dishes we were about to order for Craft can really be a food-fest with its family-style service.
The menu has twenty-four "First Courses"; twenty-one "Main Courses"; thirty-four "Sides" and thirty-eight "Desserts" including your choice of ten different "Cheeses". Bring your glasses and a hearty appetite! And, though none of this is cheap, everything you order will truly be memorable.
Our dinner consisted of the following:
1. Smoked Sturgeon and Steelhead Caviar ($18); eight thin slices of fresh, succulent pieces of sturgeon with a smattering of caviar in cream for dipping. (A+)
2. Japanese Hamachi and Ginger ($17); six large slices of the cleanest tasting slabs of hamachi, topped with a ginger salsa (A++)
3. Foie Gras Terrine and Plums ($25); the most tender, buttery round of foie gras we have tasted, outside of Paris. It comes with four slices of brioche toast that were as tender as the liver. Impossibly terrific (A+++)
4. A tasting portion of Fazzoletti and Alaskan King Crab ($20) The full portion could serve as a one-course luncheon. Beyond fantastic, as the noodles are moist and tender; the crab morsels large and plentiful and cooked to absolute perfection. (A++++)
5. Fran's entree was Alaskan Sable and Bacon Sabayon ($31). It only took her eighteen minutes to make this decision but she was rewarded with what she called "The best fish I've ever tasted!" (A+++++)
6. My one-minute decision for the aged New York Strip ($50) was thoroughly satisfied with a huge, twenty-ounce piece of delectable meat, including the largest bone I have ever devoured. (A plus too many plusses to include.)
7. Three Sides: Acorn Squash and Spiced Molasses ($12); Assorted Mushrooms ($21), and Gratin Potatoes ($11). Each of those will satisfy three persons with some left over. Each more delicious than the other. Note: The assorted mushrooms, a food Mr. Colicchio adores, consisted of six different types, creating a most unusual experience with the fungi. Do you know such names as "Hen of the Woods", "Velvet Piopini", "Trompette Royale"? You will after you order this dish!
For dessert, we chose the assorted fruit plate ($12) and the small sampler of three gelatos ($10). Both are totally unusual in name and derivation for surprise is also one of Tom's themes. Craft has been established to showcase "remarkable ingredients and cook in a way that preserves their integrity." All I could think about as I sipped my most exquisite cup of decaffeinated coffee, was that his was one of the most memorable meals I have ever experienced. It ranks with Jean George in New York, dinner at the ANA Hotel in Vienna and the marvelous repasts at the now defunct Coolibah in Tarzana.
Simplicity, imagination, excellent ingredients, care-full preparation and sincere regard for his patrons are the hallmarks of Collichio's Craft. Thank you Mr. Collichio for sharing your baby with us here, in Los Angeles.
Please remember the drill: When you go, please make sure to tell 'em Joseph sent you. It may mean an extra mushroom. P.S. Ask for Thomas' table; he's terrific!
Craft, 10100 Constellation Boulevard, Los Angeles (Century City), CA 90067, Tel. 310-279-4180
Open for Lunch and Dinner; Approximately $150 for two w/o alcohol; Service: Family Style