Restaurant Week can sometimes be…how to put this… a scam.
Fancy, big name restaurants put out “special” menus to feed to the hungry masses at a reduced prix fixe cost. Though this sounds great – a chance to dine at a world renowned, Michelin-starred or Top Chef helmed restaurant for only $25 at lunch – it is often a let down. A harried staff pushes out more meals than it can handle, there are add ons and up-charges that make the price skyrocket, and the food itself is often sub par, banquet hall quality food prepared for the masses.
Can you tell I’ve been burned?
However, I had one Restaurant Week meal that shone brightly, competing with any lunch I have had in recent memory, snd at a much better price.
I have reviewed Craftbar before, but this meal is so exemplary that it deserves special recognition.
First, the (very short) list of cons:
-No bread basket
-Several different servers during the meal (although they were all extremely skilled and efficient without rushing us)
Now onto the pros:
Marinated chickpea salad with yogurt, eggplant, and pickled red onions
Tender standard chickpeas and nutty, slightly chewy black chickpeas in a bright, slighty spicy chile and lemon vinaigrette. The underlying yogurt is silky and thick and the eggplant is soft while the pickled onions add the appropriate amount of acid to the dish. This is Mediterranean without being in-yo-face about it. It’s just fresh ingredients put together in an interesting and thoughtful way. I wish I had some of those breadsticks usually offered to eat with this, but ah well.
Mussels with chiles, Szechuan peppercorns, and kaffir lime
This is an ideal warming, wintry lunch. Not as fiery or salty as yu might get from Kin Shop, but that’s okay. As with the chickpea salad, this isn’t meant to represent a specific kind of food. It’s meant to take Asian influences and apply them in a careful, delicately balanced way. The mussels are almost all open, cooked until juicy and plump. They are in a light, chili flecked broth that is more filled with garlic and fennel than fish sauce. The Szechuan peppercorns give their signature tongue tingling effect, and the broth is easily sopped up with the two fluffy pieces of upscale Texas toast. The portion is ideal – enough to fill you yet not so much that it will weigh you down after lunch.
Lemon poppyseed cake
Moist, tart, and sweet. I don’t know if poppyseeds have a taste, but I love them anyway. Totally worth having to floss your teeth for an hour after you eat it.
For $25 before tax and tip, this is my favorite pick for Restaurant Week. It’s done so well, with a large variety of menu choices, including several of the restaurant’s signature dishes. The service is great, the food is delicious, and the price is right.
Now, someone bring me some floss, because those poppy seeds are definitely still all over my teeth.