Having to walk through some scaffolding, only to come upon this small door as being the only sign of where Craftbar was located, I was only hoping I had found the right place. But as soon as I walked in and saw the beautiful restaurant I knew I was in for something special. A very sleek design with dark browns and simple paper menus this was my kinda place. The toughest part about the menu was trying to choose. Every dish on the menu looked amazing, and thanks to my friend Matt, my family and I got to taste most of them. The first wave was an array of appetizers with each one providing an unique flavor. The first one I tasted was a braised Berkshire pork shoulder served with a tomato molasses and ramp marmalade. The pork was very tender and punched me in the mouth with its flavor. It was served with some bibb lettuce to make wraps and that little crunch from the lettuce was a nice contrast to the silkiness of the pork. Other appetizers included Pecorino fondue with acacia honey and hazelnuts, hierloom tomato salad with sweet basil seed (WOW and I am not usually a fan of raw tomatoes), and probably my favorite, field mushroom bruschetta with fontina. This appetizer was probably the simplest of all of the them, but the freshness of the dish was what made it perfect. The bread was crusty on the outside and soft in the center, just like any good bread, and the mushrooms were clean and sauteed just enough to bring out their flavor but leave them with some texture. The cheese added a perfect amount of saltiness to round out the dish.
Wave number two came shortly after, and the entrees didn't disappoint. My parents spilt a baby beet salad with smoked bacon and pickled egg, and a pressed organic chicken sandwich. Both of these were delicious. But the stars of the entrees were the veal ricotta meatballs, brother's dish, and roasted organic chicken with lovage, jerusalem artichokes, and leeks, my dish. The meatballs were almost the size of a softball and cooked perfectly. Served over some homemade pasta and with a simple marinara, the meatballs were juicy and luscious. The roasted chicken was a wonderful expression of letting the ingredients speak for themselves. The breast was roasted separately and served sliced over the dish. Moist and succulent the breast just got you excited for what was underneath. The broth was a nice chicken jus, probably from the roasting, and all the vegetables and dark meat of the chicken were nice compliments.
Now for the big finish! Dessert is probably the only way to really finish a meal. I am a firm believer that all meals, especially good ones, should finish with something sweet. Matt again surprised us with an array from the dessert menu. First was a tray of assorted cookies and confections which included a nut brittle, mini ice cream sandwiches, and a poppy seed cookie with lemon curd. Second was a creme fraiche panna cotta with market fresh berries and black pepper biscotti. While both were great, my favorite was the ricotta fritters with blueberry compote and buttermilk sorbet. The light, fluffy fritters were crispy on the outside and not too sweet. The sorbet wasn't very sweet either but the compote provided the right amount of sugar to complete the dish.
After the great meal, I got to take a tour of the kitchen. A very small, two story kitchen, like most in New York, sits with the main service kitchen on the same floor as the dining room, and the prep and pantry areas are in the basement. I was pretty amazed that something this size could produce the meal we were just served. But like any good chefs, we can make masterpieces out of almost anything. Craftbar was a lovely meal and I thank Matt, the service staff, and the other chefs in the kitchen that made it possible.