I tried Tom Colicchio's (the chef at gramercy tavern) newish restaurant Craft on East 19th St. (btw. Park Ave South & Broadway) 212.780.0880. last night and had an excellent meal.
To start the meal the kitchen sent out a puree of fennel and some toasts. Apps: Raw tuna; mixed greens. As a condiment for the raw tuna a small bowl of preserved lemon bits was brought out too. The tuna was several rectangular pieces plus a small pile of tuna tartare. I think the lemon added to it nicely. The mixed lettuces (or greens, I forget which they called it) was the only so-so item we had. The person I had dinner with put on salt and pepper to make it more flavorful.
The mains and sides are ordered seperately
mains:lamb chops, halibut
sides: spinach, and roasted fingerling potatos
the waiter threw in a side of hen of the woods as he felt it complemented our meal.
The lamb chops were some of the best I have had in a while and came with an additional pitcher of jus. They were also not skimpy. The halibut was also very fresh tasting, broiled i think. they also served the preserved lemons again, along with salsa verde and a third sauce with our entrees so we could try whichever sauce we wanted.
The hen of the woods mushrooms were roasted beautifully and the spinach was very good too.
For dessert we had a poached pear, which was served with a trio of sauces on the side: chocolate, caramel and apple cider. I had been been debating between them, so the waiter brought them all. We also had tangerine sorbet, served on tanegrine slices, which was very refreshing.
Served with the check was some almond and peanut brittle, both of which were good, and I managed to try them both despite being full.
The service was uniformly good. Professional and friendly at the same time. None of the stiffness you can find in some restaurants, while also not veering to the extreme of "hi my name is ... and I'll be your waiter this evening."
The room is nicely decorated (with a focus on brown leather), and I didn't find it to be too loud. Because many of the dishes are geared towards sharing and many of the tables are for larger parties I would recommend going with a group of 4 or more. I will go back soon.