Sometimes, when you eat at a restaurant you just say to yourself – “oh, no wonder.”
And that’s what I said when I ate at Craftbar .
This Tom Colicchio restaurant practically screams flatiron with its low-key, upscale atmosphere. It’s large and spacious, with a few tall communal tables and a section that can be partitioned for private parties. It is minimalist but warm, and relaxed enough for a quick lunch but chic enough for a birthday dinner. It’s elegant without being pretentious.
A totally fabulous terrine. Some terrines can be bouncy, gristly, or way too gamy tasting.
This is none of the above.
It’s soft and mild, with tender bits of sweet pork. It’s topped with pickled chiles that are spicy but not crazy hot, and the pickeld vegetables alongside cut right through the rich meat. It is really mild – even more so than pate – and is spreadable onto the tangy bread. It’s a fantastic rendition of a popular dish.
So well done. freshly roasted beets have a different texture than canned ones – they are tender, but al dente, with a really sweet taste – almost like sugar. These are served room temperature and topped with fragrant dill, crunchy pistachios, and creamy, fatty yogurt. The dill is really the kicker here - it uplifts the hearty dish and gives it a brightness.
Well prepared fish. Nothing earth shattering, but very well done. Flaky, crispy skinned fish atop vinegary, pleasantly salty eggplant. The white beans are al dente and creamy at once, and the topping of chervil provides an unexpected sweet, licorice-y note. The lemon is a nice pop of acid, and the fish is a good sized portion.
So, no wonder. No wonder, Colicchio is considered to be a trendsetter. No wonder he is on Top Chef. No wonder this restaurant has enjoyed such longevity. No wonder.
Because those these items seem old hat now, they were the newest things on the block when Craftbar opened.
And they are still some of the best renditions around.