I had a pleasant enough dinner experience at Craftbar last night, but none of the food items we ordered is anything I would go rushing back for.
From the little history I know of the place, Craftbar started out as Craft lite, the casual alternative to Craft. Then sometime last year, Craftbar moved and had a menu change, becoming more expensive and trying to be closer to haute cuisine. It was in this incarnation that I went to Craftbar for a business lunch last summer. The food was good, but nothing particularly wowed me. My table of five was one of two tables at Craftbar that day, which may have had something do do with its decision to convert back to a casual restaurant a few months ago.
Craftbar looks the same as on my first visit--very modern but somewhat undone, subway rumbling underneath. Now there are a few more casual touches, like brown paper on the white tableclothes, waiters in T-shirts, and alternative music (Postal Service, Weezer, Beatniks) playing obvioulsy from the speakers. My boyfriend and I were seated in a comfortable banquet in a corner, not pressed up against other diners, and otherwise made comfortable by our attentive server and a more relaxed pace tham most restaurants. Incidentally, the huge space was almost full, so I think the menu change is working.
The opening course menu is divided into snacks, appetizers, soups, bruschetta, and salads. We shared an order of the fried oysters with celery root remoulade, which came four oysters to a plate, each oyster on top of some celery root and topped by a pickled slice of lemon. While the oysters were nice and plump, the mealy, soggy crust on them was not good. I then ordered the orechiette with sausage, cauliflower, and fennel. This was one of the most disappointing pasta dishes I've ordered, not because it was bad (it's pasta, so it's simple enough that it's never inedible), but just because it really wasn't very good. At the end of the mean, all I could really taste was salt! My boyfriend ordered a pappardelle in duck ragu, which had only four or five small pieces of duck thrown on top. He liked his better than I liked mine, but that's about all I can say for it.
We finished with a hot fudge sundae (him) and the chocolate custard tart with pistachio ice cream (me). My tart was not really a tart (no crust) but more like a thin flourless chocolate croquette. At first I didn't like it at all because I thought it was too bitter, but mixed with the pistachio ice cream, I managed to cut some of the bitterness and enjoy it more. My boyfriend's hot fudge sundae had barely any fudge on it, so the ice cream was still freezer hard.
Because the prices at Craftbar are reasonable, the seating is comfortable, and the pace is relaxed, I probably would go back and give the restaurant another try in the future, maybe trying some non-pasta entrees this time around, but my return trip isn't a very high priority.
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