I have never been a fan of celebrity chefs.
Inevitably, every time I have gone to one of their famed establishments, it has been a bitter disappointment. With just a few exceptions, whether it be one of Gordon Ramsey’s newest openings or one of Batalli’s sought after reservations, the result is always the same – disappointing food, uninspiring menus, rude service and an air of pretentiousness just because the place has their name associated with the restaurant.
The exception is Tom Colicchio’s CRAFT. From the moment you arrive one is greeted with sincere appreciation by the restaurant staff. You are shown promptly and gracefully to your table and immediately made to feel comfortable and excited to have what is surely going to be a delicious experience. And that is exactly what you get. The menu has plenty to choose from and is divided into simple categories from First Course, Main Course and Sides, each listing different options ranging from seafood, salads, meats and sides. The food is presented in smaller portions, which allows one to taste a variety of options which can be shared by the entire table. The initial course has wonderful and tasty starters such as a selection of Oysters from around the country, Pork Belly and Dates, Duck Rillette or a sinful Foie Gras Torchon with Rhubarb. A few pastas are also served such as Spaghetti with Morels and English Peas or delicate Whole Wheat Orecchiette with fava Beans and Lamb. On the lighter side, simple but deliciously composed salads are available to share from the most basic Wild Arugula and Pine Nut Salad with Parmesan, to a more hearty salad of Calamari, Chorizo, Spinach and Golden Raisins. These initial treats, served with such a cordial air of friendliness, efficiency and ease by the wait staff – just a taste for what is about to follow.
The main courses are certainly protein-centric, but nonetheless the variety of choices allows you to choose exactly the right dish that satisfies your palate. Some of my favorites – an amazingly deboned quail, cooked to perfection – juicy, seasoned to perfection and it melts in your mouth. A few other meat options are the elegant yet simple Ellensburg Lamb, perfectly seared – a delightful combination of gaminess and salt. The Mugifuji Pork can be cut with a fork (apologies for the Dr. Seuss rhyme) and is highlighted by a herbaceous jus to add to the delicious flavors. Seafood dishes are elegantly represented most prominently by the Halibut with artichokes – marvelously simple – but at the same time rustic and perfectly put together, the fish cooked to perfection. All of these dishes are accompanied by a variety of sides certain to satisfy the table’s diverse tastes – from long, thick asparagus and sugar snap peas to sweet and sour cipollini onions and a delicious collection of assorted mushrooms, grilled to perfection. I am not one for eating much when it comes to dessert – but here too, if you are so inclined my favorite selection are their sugary cinnamon doughnuts – eat one, you’ll end up eating them all.
What makes CRAFT such an exceptional dinner experience isn’t just the consistently delicious food, but something else that makes this place a true rarity in restaurant-centric Los Angeles – courteous and considerate service from the moment you arrive to the moment you pay your bill, completely satisfied, knowing you have been so well taken care of, that you are certain you will most definitely be back for more.
CRAFT 10100 Constellation Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90067 310-279-4180