A bunch of us went to Craft last week, which was my first visit since Marco Canora's departure. I had had many very good meals at Craft in the past, and was curious to see how the kitchen was doing these days.
My overall impression is that the dishes that were created under Canora's tenure are not being done justice without him. If you want the dishes as they were intended to be, get thee to Hearth.
We had been warned that the kitchen is in the habit of severe over-salting, and so we asked our server to tell the kitchen to go light on the salt, which he did. So it was no surprise that the only terribly salty thing we received was the amuse, which was pre-prepared and therefore not influenced by our request.
We had one dish, however, that was one of the most extraordinary things any of us had ever eaten - a 2 lb lobster tail from Australia. This was the most succulent, tender lobster I have ever eaten. 5 of us split it, and we each had a generous portion. It's a dish that none of us can stop talking about.
We had several courses.
Fish appetizers included good hamachi, soem spanish mackerel with pickled ramps, but the sea trout was bland, had none of the spring in its step that this dish has at Hearth, and the sardine dish was overwhelmed by it's too-vinegary dressing.
Octopus terrine was good, the foie gras terrine was okay, but not nearly as good as the foie gras torchon dish that was at Hearth last season. Country pate wasn't interesting enough, but accompanied by a terrific mustard.
Roasted brussel sprouts were very good - we ordered a second portion. Short ribs good also, as was the quail. Sweetbreads were just fine.
Hen of the Woods were good, but we had some other Japanese mushroom which was nothing special at all.
One of us ordered grilled black bass, which was reported to be okay but needed saucing. I know this is the Craft "thing," but just a plain piece of fish on a plate seems a bit absurd to me. I mean, would it kill ya to put a sprig of parsley on the top?
Cheeses were a disappointment. Couple of them were either dried out or way past their prime. We did have a couple of blues that liked, and a couple of others were good too - Zamarano and Serpa. (The cheese plate at Hearth is getting better and better - perhaps a tad unadventurous, although that too is changing, but the cheeses are served in perfect, edible condition, every time).
I liked the brioche pain perdu, but I found the caramel sauce way too sweet, liked the chocolate sauce. I don't have much of tolerance these days for very sweet things, though.
I really like the huge tables at Craft, the decor - service was good, but nothing like the dedication that one feels at Hearth. For less money, a more laid back atmosphere, and food that really sings in this category, I'm sticking to Hearth.
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