Despite the "friends & family" soft opening scheduled for this past weekend, we were informed by the reservations manager that there were openings. So last night at 6:30pm, we slid into a cushy booth along the length of the dining room.
For its second night, we were impressed by the attentiveness of the waitstaff and kitchen. I think the one person who did not impress us was our actual server. She hardly checked on us after our courses were served. Our saviors were two managers and one server in particular who were professional and knowledgeable in their, well, you know.
Mistakenly received a standard mojito instead of the house cocktail with raspberry and verbena, but that was swiftly replaced via manager number one. The East Meets West drink was a fruity blend of juices and intoxication. He started with a little gem salad, with cipollini onions wrapped in bacon. I was informed the fresh produce for both NY and LA (prob Dallas too) was from Santa Monica, and you could tell from the crisp leafy greens. Instead of a main, I went for a little roasted quail and some chittara spaghetti. The last time I had pasta so fresh was at SF's Quince (and before that, somewhere in Boston's Little Italy). For a modest portion, I was more than pleased. Quail was succulent and tasty.
His meal included a healthy serving of salmon. It was prepared just so. I opted for side orders of sauteed rapini and assorted mushrooms. As our courses were served, I realized the mushrooms were missing. Being so late in the meal I *had* to add on an order of gnocchi to accompany our delayed fungi. I'm glad I did, as it was an appropriate addition to our meals. The mushrooms were outstanding, and I'm sure it had to do with the variety of textures and tastes.
We went all out for dessert. There was a platter of three soft cheeses (I have a weakness for dairy) with bread and fruit. Add to that the signature donuts, glazed and fluffy. The angel food cake had his name all over it - fresh fruits and spongy cake were swallowed up. There was also the chocolate souffle, too rich for me to touch. Love the little copper pan it is baked in. We tried their gelato spread: olive oil, caramel, and ....I wish I could recall. Lastly, an exploration of pluots - which we learned were a cross between plums and apricots. They were all washed down with some wild mint tea.
While the NY outpost is dark and cozy, Century City was light and airy. Signature lightbulbs lit up the main room. Waitstaff were dressed in black slacks, black vest, light blue shirt, and striped ties. Lunch service would start in August, and patio dining was forthcoming. To top off our night, a parting gift from manager number two, a multitude of cookies (I'm all over the peanut butter ones). That was after our brief, but satisfactory, introduction to Mr. Colicchio. Dressed in his chef whites, his evening was being spent in the back, "...cooking meat". Niice.
Preparing dishes with only the best ingredients and the simplest of methods is a winning combination at Craft. It is definitely worth the 100+ mile round trip from Orange County.
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