Monday, December 1, 2008.....
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I am HUGE Top Chef fan and was excited about eating at Craft this weekend for the first time.
I haven't admitted this, but I am a food snob. It's not that I won't try new foods, it is that I judge a restaurant by my ability to make the dish. Basically, if I can make it better and they overcharge, well, it doesn't get a star. Sometimes, the food may not be the best I've eaten, but if the atmosphere and service is great, well, I can overlook so-so food. To me, dining out, is an entire experience.
I've never experienced a restaurant in which the service, food and bar were bad, but did Saturday night.
For this entry, I've asked for feedback from my sister and girlfriend about our experience. I've only added where needed because I think my sister captured our experience extremely well.
Hello, regular followers of this blog....I am Little Ms. Blogger's older sister (one of several). I'm the sister who went to France, and who went to see Harry Connick Jr with LMB and the other guest blogger, whom I like to call Poncho Girl for her love of the poncho. You can call me Yoga Girl since that's a passion of mine.
Anyway - the 3 of us are big Top Chef fans. We usually go into New York several times a year to catch some kind of play/musical performance. The tradition is that each of us takes turns and finds a restaurant for us to try. After watching the 2nd Top Chef show where they are all slaving away at Craft, Tom Colicchio's restaurant, I thought - "that would be fun to try". Oddly enough, Poncho Girl also thought the same thing, so LMB made a reservation there for the preconcert festivities. The concert started at 8 - dinner was at 5:30. Perfect timing, wouldn't you think? Plenty of time to eat and not be rushed, right? If you guessed no...you win a prize.
Tom, Tom, Tom - how could something I looked so forward to be SO DISAPPOINTING????? We got there promptly at 5:30, first table of the evening. A party who came in after us were seated first, as they appeared to be friends of the wait staff. We waited for 5 or 10 minutes to be seated. Come on people - how could you be behind from the get go? So - strike #1 for the restaurant.
LMB Comment - Yoga girl only noticed that one group of people that were seated prior because they were friends with waitstaff,ummm, wrong. There were 2 groups.
The decor was nice - we all enjoyed that. We also enjoyed the fancy copper sink in the ladies' restroom. Everything was a la carte = $$$$. Okay, I was expecting that.
LMB Comment - Atmosphere was a nice as posted on the Craft website.
However, Yoga Girl did not expect the following:
1) Everything was too salty. LMB, who is basically a salt worshiper, even agreed, so you know it was bad. (LMB - she's right, salt is key in my world)
2) Service was slow. Now, it could have had something to do with the kitchen but it took us about 2 hours to get through dinner and we couldn't order dessert since we had to leave to catch the show. And I enjoy not rushing through dinner, but this was ridiculous. As a person who generally looks at dessert first to plan her dinner, I was very sad about no dessert. I had already perused the menu prior to going and had decided on what I was going to have for dessert. But alas, I was denied. No pumpkin fritters for Yoga Girl, no sirree. Poncho Girl had her heart set on some kind of marshmallow dessert she saw and even wore a little scarf that looked like marshmallows strung together in honor of her anticipated dessert so her entire outfit was for naught, even though it was very festive.
LMB Comment - It was obvious that the food sat under the food lamp too long. The one braised short rib I received was really dry and chewy which is hard to do if cooked in hot liquid for hours unless the sauce burned off.
3) Did not have the ingredients to make Bellinis. Come on, that is a fairly standard champagne cocktail. The only thing they could make was a Mimosa and you don't drink those at dinner - although I love a good Mimosa, it's a brunch drink, along with Bloody Marys.
LMB Comment - okay there is a bit more to this. The house margarita had so much tequila in it that you could smell the drink. I also don't appreciate that the wait staff assumed I was an idiot and would swap out a Bellini with a mimosa. I would have appreciated her stating no and promoting the house champagne drink. Also, if you have a James Beard award on your wall and mixology is as important in today's dining experience, get some staples in bar. The fact that there is a kitchen makes it easy to have simple syrup on hand.
Poncho Girl decided to write out a comment card when we paid the bill. I could swear that the wait staff read it, since when we went to pick up our coats at the front of the restaurant, we all got "to go" gingerbread muffins in a cellophane wrapper. I devoured mine in the cab and it was pretty tasty - but seeing as there's no separate bakery on site, etc, we were all baffled by this. I will say it was the best thing I ate, along with the bread. It's hard to screw bread up, generally speaking.
LMB Comment - ummm....can you say "wrong"??? What's up with handing a patron a muffin on the way out of the restaurant? Unlike my sister, I gave most to my hubby the next day. Since my sister commented that it was the best part of the meal, I had to try a bite. Not a bread girl, I missed out on the other yummy part of the meal she enjoyed.
The irony of all this to me was that all the things that Tom rides the cheftestants for on Top Chef, he is violating in his own restaurant! I will continue to watch religiously but I will not be able to stifle any giggles or yelling back at the set when he comments on seasoning, slow service, etc.
LMB Comment - I think Tom needs to revisit his restaurant again and get involved. I know that he's busy, but so is Eric Ripert. I have to say, after eating at his restaurant, Le Bernadin, several years back to celebrate my 40th with friends, it is still one of most memorable meals to date. I know that it is for my sister and Poncho Girl.
Although I know LMB wanted to keep the restaurant discussion separate from the concert discussion, I was so excited to learn that not only did we have rock star seating (5th row floor), we were sitting behind Harry's family, including his model wife Jill Goodacre and Bernadette Peters. Since I have to confess a passion for all celebrity sightings, I was in heaven. Harry could have played more Christmas music, since it was a Christmas concert, but it was fun all the same. If you like his music, you need to see him live. He's very entertaining and puts on a great show. Not to mention that he's totally cute. What more could you ask for?
So - thanks for reading my guest post - both Poncho Girl and I said to LMB that she had to blog about dinner, and that we wanted to add our $.02 - so hope you enjoyed mine!