Mr. Treker's parents had reservation for dinner at Craft last Thursday and invited us to join them. We always love going out with his folks and had been doing pretty well on our budget so we decided to tag-along.
First of all, I have to say that while I have always been interested in trying out Craft, it has never been on the top of my list.
Why? Well I have heard so many mixed reviews about this place over the years. There are people on the blogs like Chowhound, Yelp etc. that absolutely hate it.
On the other hand, there are also people on those same blogs that sing it's praises-even calling it the best restaurant they've ever been to!
I guess I was just always scared to take the chance that I might be one of those "haters". Working for a non-profit agency I'm not exactly raking in the big bucks! Part of the reason I started reading blogs was so I wouldn't be disppointed spending the little cash I had on a bad meal.
Well anyways- when Thursday night came I was honestly just excited to be spending some quality time with family out of the apartment. Budgets are good like that! They remind you what's really important in life! Okay- enough preaching- back to the place.
The first thing you notice upon walking into Craft is the beautiful lights hanging from the ceiling and the walls. I wouldn't call the layout romantic, I would describe it as comforting.
The hostess sat us down at a huge wooden table. I really loved the whole feel of the place. It was rustic and sophisticated at the same time.
The waiter came over and described the menu to us in detail. It's split up into first course, main course and sides. To me it sounded just like every other restaurant, but it's really not at all. I'll explain why a little later on.
The first thing to arrive at our table was the bread.
I tried a peice of the whole wheat bread and it was quite tasty but nothing special. As I was contemplating trying out the white bread they brought over an amuse bouche for everyone.
This was a rock shrimp with olive oil and a little sprig of carrot and parsly on top. The olive oil was wonderful..... Again the amuse itself wasn't anything phenomanal but it was a solid start.
We were all kind of settling in and really enjoying the warmth of the place when our first courses arrived. At Craft all of the dishes are put in the middle of the table and everyone shares family style.
The first thing I tried? For some reason I went for the Foie Gras.
Now I know I don't like Foie Gras. It's just too rich for me but I still try the different variations everywhere we go.
I took a bite with some of the sauce and was really surpised. Rather than the overly rich taste I usually hate- It was actually quite smooth. The sauce really balanced out the flavor. Our waiter told us the sauce was actually just some Golden Raisins. Wow! Probably my favorite spin on a Foie Gras dish.
This is the Wagyu Carpaccio with Honshimeji. Honshimeji are tiny little Asian mushrooms that were atop the meat along with some arugula salad and some oil. I loved this dish!! Wagyu meat is so good on it's own it doesn't need anything fancy to go with it. The tiny mushrooms and salad really just enhanced the flavor and texture of the meat.
I had actually ordered the Quail as my first course for the table and it was also very good. I think the Quail at Irving Mill had a slightly better char to the outside which I enjoyed but this was well prepared and very tasty.
The last course we got were the Sweetbreads whch didn't come out in the picture. OMG though- they were really really good!! I never thought I liked sweetbreads but here they had so much flavor...and the portion was huge!! These were a big hit!
I ordered another glass of wine and our sides and entrees started to arrive. Heres our tubular pillows of cheese the Gnocchi.
The Diver Scallops were enourmous and had a great crunch on the outside. I think they were finished off with a little melted butter and that's about it. Fantastic!
The Chathom Cod was grilled and came with a lemon butter sauce on the side. The fish was cooked perfectly and the sauce really helped to enhance the dish.
This is just a big old pot of braised short ribs. We actually ordered two so they just brought out this huge thing. If there is a better example of a perfect wintery comfort food dish- I don't know what it is. Tender beef and veggies in a sweet, brown sugar sauce. Sweet & Savory at the same time...Yum! One of the best I've had to date.
Plate of Multiple Food Items
One of the greatest things about the meal though came in the form of our other sides. The duck confit and the Jerusalum Artichokes were both amazing. What are Jerusalum Artichokes? Don't ask just order!!
I was so full yet I kept going back to those damn artichokes.
When I finally put down my fork from all the great food our plates were whisked away and we were each given a Meyer Lemon spritzer as a palate cleanser. Now I was ready to burst about 2 minutes before but for some reason that spritzer perked me right back up. So we decided to get one more round and some dessert.
I ordered a fantastic glass of Cabernet while the rest of the group got some port. There were a lot of great looking desserts on the menu it was hard to chose. In the end though I think I chose the winner.
I got the Toffe Steamed Pudding with a side of Coffee Crunch ice cream. The bread pudding came out more like a souffle and was pretty light for a usually heavy dish. It came with a side of toffee sauce and creme fraiche. I hate creme frachie but the ice cream I ordered more than balanced out the dish!
Wow this dessert was awesome. The ice cream was rich and creamy with chunks of coffee mixed in. It tasted like it was homemade. Next time I think I would get their ice cream sampler to check out all of the other flavors.
At this point I really was ready to burst. They brought out some dark chocolate and peanut butter candies for the end and I could barely finish one tiny peice (although I did).
With the check they brought out a muffin for you to take home for your breakfast the next morning just like Gramercy Tavern & Eleven Madison do.
I've always thought this was such a nice touch and a good marketing tool as well. When you wake up in the morning you're immediately reminded of the great meal you had. Chances are you'll enjoy your breakfast and go to work happy and excited to tell co-workers about your meal!
Well breakfast in the morning was delicious. The entire muffin was surprisingly moist and tasted like it had just been baked.
So to sum it all up, I really enjoyed my experience at Craft. First of all, our waiter was always available to answer any questions we had and accomodate our last minute changes BUT he wasn't intrusive. Sometimes I feel that the wait staff are hovering over my table and it's really off-putting. Here the staff seemed as relaxed as we were and things just flowed smoothly.
The food as I described was spectacular. Each dish was delicious and executed perfectly. I understand the concept now in a better way. Many times I think the sides make a dish good. Here each main ingredient really stands on its own. The Jerusalum Artichokes were all about artichokes not helping out a fish dish. The butter on the Scallops was only about enhancing the natural flavor of the Scallop. It's all very complicated in it's simple little way.
Anyway I am so happy to have gone to Craft and am now even more excited to use our CraftSteak gift certificate than I was before. I can't wait to see what they can do with a huge cut of beef!!
Great food, Relaxing Atmosphere, Attentive Service and Fabulous people to share it with- quite possibly a perfect meal!
Hey- I guess I'm one of the Craft lovers!
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Mr. Treker's parents had reservation for dinner at Craft last Thursday and invited us to join them. We always love going out with his folks and had been doing pretty well on our budget so we decided to tag-along.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I was so excited when I heard Five Guys Burgers was opening in Brooklyn Heights right near one of the offices I work at. They had an opening date that kept getting pushed back and pushed back until I thought it was never going to open! But then it finally did and luckily I was there on opening day.
Since then Five Guys is my lunch treat. I generally try to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch during the week to make up for all the other crap I put in body the rest of the time. But Five Guys is so good I have to make allowances for it once in a while.
So what's so good about Five Guys? Well here's a picture of my burger just after opening it back in my office.
Looks kind of squashed and sorry huh. It has a nice soft bun and a good flavor to the meat but what I think makes the burger truly is the toppings.
Five Guys offers either a Little Cheeseburger (which this is) which is one beef patty or a Regular Cheeseburger which is two beef patties. Then they offer all these topping for free: mayo, lettuce, onions, ketchup, tomatoes, pickles, fried onions, sauteed mushrooms, mustard, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, A1 Sauce, BBQ sauce & Hot Sauce!
That's a lot of toppings!
I get mine with the standard mayo, lettuce tomatoes, ketchup, pickles and fried onions. It's a whole lotta flavor packed into a little burger.
The other thing that makes Five Guys so great are the fries. They are a bit bigger than McDonald's but with a better crunch and lots of salt. Never order anything bigger than a small fry if you go. They easily give you enough for about 3 people!!
I heard one of these opened up in Midtown and is swamped. Luckily in Brooklyn Heights I can just call my order in and then walk over to pick it up in about a minute. This is no Shack burger, don't get me wrong, but it's pretty fricken good!
Five Guys Website
Friday, January 25, 2008
So winter is the time for comforting food and I don't know anything more comforting than soup dumplings. We've been on somewhat of a tear of trying different places out and this Monday was no different.
We woke up- happy from the Giants win and happy with a day off of work. So we decided to head down to Chinatown and fill our bellies with some yummy soup dumplings.
It was freezing outside so we decided to go some place closer to the subway than Joe Shanghai so we didn't have to be outside so much. We headed towards Shanghai Cafe.
Shanghai Cafe was really different inside than I thought it would be. It reminded of a place trapped in the 80's. Remember when you went to get your school picture taken when you were younger and they all the cool kids got the laser background?! For some reason that's what I thought of when I walked in here. If that gives you any indication of the decor!
It was about 1:30 and the place was packed. We had to wait about 5 minutes but scored the back table.
We put in our order and within minutes out first plate arrived. The Soup dumplings!!
As you can see these are bigger than the ones we had at Yeah Shanghai.
These are a different style. At Yeah we got plain pork. Here we went for the crab and pork dumpling. Picking this thing up you could tell it was pretty hefty. I was so excited to take a bite!
Look at all of the crab and pork inside. These dumpling were jam packed and bursting with flavor! The soup itself was wonderful and we both agreed these were much better than Yeah's
Then we got our pork over rice.
I really didn't like this that much. There was little pork and tons of rice. I like my pork to be more of the style of NY Noodletown's pork. I know that's a different style and I seem to prefer it. This takes the place of Yeah Shanghai for us as far as soup dumplings is concerned. We're checking out others though..this search is to be continued....
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
On the way back from Chinatown lunch the other day we swung by Ferrara to pick up some little desserts for later that night.
Ferrara bills itself as America's first espresso bar which is funny because Ive never had an espreso there. I always just seem to stop in because they have wonderul Italian pasteries that you can buy mini-sized. That way you can try a little of everything!
They have tons of cookies, bars and even mini wedding cakes along the display! Mr T and I just decided to grab some to go and eat at home later.
The Cream Puff was filled with French style custard cream. The cream was good but I thought it could have been a little richer.
Sfogliatella- this is the Clam shaped pastry. It's flaky and filled with ricotta, farina and fruit. This was rings of crunchiness that unfortunately didn't have much else going on. I wouldn't get it again.
The piece de Resistance!! The Napolean- I have tried Napoleon's all over the city and this is one of the best I have ever had. It was Bavarian cream filled Pan'di Spagna. The Pan'di Spagna was fluffy and light so the cream and icing were the center of the show. So Good!! Going back to get another one this weekend.
Cannoli- this was you classic crispy mini tube filled with ricotta cream & chocolate chip. Italian Perfection.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Since we had just started our budget we passed on going to watch the football games at a bar and just got some beers and watched them at home this weekend.
If your a Giants fan you know that this past Sunday was a great day for football. Eli Manning came out and got a huge win to send them into the Superbowl! Mr. T is a huge Giant's fan so we were jumping up and down in celebration. We were obviously several beers in by the time they won and a budget didn't seem so important anymore at that point :)
So we decided to go out and celebrate! We jumped in a cab down to McSorley's and had a LOT of these.
McSorley's was great. It was exactly the kind of crowd we wanted after such a crazy game like that- drunk and rowdy! We had a couple rounds and stayed out later than I have in ages! With all the drinking going on we kind of forgot about food all day. We were all set to grab a cab down to NY Noodletown for some grub when we remembered we were right near possibly the best drunk food in the world- Poutine.
Poutine originated in Canada and it basically became my favorite drunk food when I turned 19. My friends and I would go across the border to go drinking and then stop at Burger King before heading back to the US. Poutine was always on the menu and one drunken night I decided to try it out. This proved to be a life changing event. The warm gravy and melty cheese on top of those salty crisp fries was amazing!! We started to look forward to the poutine more than the beers every time we went I think.
I don't understand why the Burger Kings here won't add it to the menu! One of my friends wrote a letter asking them but never got a response:(
Well luckily I moved to New York where there is one place that has it- Pomme Frites.
So when we found ourselves literally half a block away we raced over and grabbed an order. Look at this masterpiece:
The photos are a little blurry (I wasn't exactly seeing to well at this point) but I think you can see why this is the best drunk food in the world.
My college friend loved Poutine so much she would make it at home when she had too much to drink :) It's really that good! So if you find yourself in the East Village and "feeling no pain" as my mother would say, Pomme Frites will be your savior.
Pomme Frites Website
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I decided to schedule a hair cut appointment for this Satudray since I knew Mr. T had to work most of the afternoon. I always get my hair cut on a weekeday and am usually so exhausted from work I just go right home after. My hair cut place is uptown around 54th street, so when I got done Saturday about 1:30 I decided to walk around uptown for a little while since I never do that anymore. If you named just about any place below 23rd street I could tell you exactly where it is....Uptown not so much. I never spend time wandering here. So I was pretty excited. I was feeling like a good cup of coffee to start out my day so I headed over to a place I had heard about last year called Fika.
Fika (prononced fee ka)bills itself as a Swedish espresso bar that's also kown for it's chocolates. Look you can almost see me in the reflection :)
Fika is quite small with only about 3 tables and a short bar to sit at. I walked in and took a look at their pasteries.
I wasn't feeling chocolate for some reason so I decided to order a vanilla cookie and a single Macchiato.
Now Mr. T and I just started a very strict budget so we can save money to actually pay off some of our debts so I was pretty happy when I was told the bill $3.25. That's pretty good! The cookie was only a dollar! Not too sabby for nyc.
So I happily grabbed a stool at the bar and sat down to enjoy my wares.
Now I haave to say that I do not know that much about coffee. Some people are really into where the beans are from, how they grinded, etc. Me? I just know what tastes good.
My favorite coffee place in the city is 9th Street Espresso. We usually end up in one of their locations every weekend. If were going to the East Village we first head over the Avenue C for an espresso or if were in the West Viallge our first stop is usually Chelsea Market for a spot.
So I was shocked when I took a sip of my Macchiato.
Why was I shocked? Because it was so AMAZING!!! I couldn't believe it! It was a little lighter than 9th street's but so perfectly balanced. I think I drank it in about 10 seconds. I feel kind of bad because I love 9th street so much but man...Fika stole my heart!
Then I tried out my cookie. The barista told me that it was very light for a cookie. I picked it up and it started to crumble...Oh no I thought. It's just really dry, but then I took a bite.
Wow! It was really light! Look at the airy holes inside.
It was kind of a cross between a cookie and a merengue. I was extremly happy with my choices! I sat at the counter grinning and just watching the city go by as I enjoyed my treats.
I had such a nice time at Fika I decided to stay uptown for a little bit and walk around. I hadn't been up here in years so what the heck. I left Fika and headed west.
As I was walking down 7th avenue I saw all of these people standing in a line. I couldn't figure out what they were waiting for until I looked up and saw the sign. Carnegie Deli!
How funny I thought! I didn't know people actually stood in line for that place. I felt like a true tourist. I decided to enjoy it and see what other "touristy" things I could find when I stumbled actoss this place.
See what it's called? The New York City Irish Bar. I couldn't help but laugh. This was right outside of Times Square in the middle of tourist central. I couldn't help but wonder how many poor Irish tourist had been drawn into that place and probably charged about $9 for a Guiness. The city can be mean like that sometimes.
Then as I walking out of Times Square I saw this place
Since when did Juan Valdez open up a coffee shop in New York!!
Well I really was enjoying my time walking around but Mr. T called and said he was done with work and hungry. So I decide to head downtown to meet him for some food and drinks.
We met up and headed over the Crif Dogs since he had never had their hot dogs before and we figured it fit into our budget. We got there and the first thing I noticed is that they don't sell beer anymore! What's up with that? A hot dog and a Pabst's Blue Ribbon is what defined this place!
Oh well- we placed our order and took a seat. Now since Mr. T never tried this place before we went for 2 plain Crif dogs so he could try the original. Now usually this doesn't take longer than about 5 minutes but for some reason it took almost 20 minutes for our dogs! The place wasn't even crowded! Strike Two in my book.
Well the dog itself was awesome as usual at least. It has such a different flavor than a Gray's Papya or regular ballpark frank because it's fried. And at $2 a pop it's quite the bargain.
After Crif Dogs we decided to continue our journey of staying on a budget by hittng up some 2 for 1 bars. We started at the Continental, then went to the Library Bar and finally ened up at Essex Street Ale House. We did pretty well for ourselves on a small budget!
After all those beers we needed some more food so we swung by Snack Dragon Tacos on the way home.
Snack Dragon used to be just a taco stand on the side of the street. Now it actually has it's own space with a little counter on the inside you can eat at.
I was starving so I ordered 2 tacos- the fish and the steak.
Here's the Steak:
The steak itself was really good. It had defiently been slow cooked for a while in some great spices. The cheese and sauce were good as well. I didn't really care for the tortilla itself though. I prefer a hard shell taco.
Then I tried the fish:
The fish itself was sole and I really didn't care for it. It tasted a little too...well fishy. I loved the cabbage that it came with though and ended up putting that on my steak taco instead.
Then we splurged and took a cab home. Still though..quite a cheap day for us!
Fika Espresso Bar
Friday, January 18, 2008
So I looked all over for the Sam Adams Utopias 2007 and actually gave Whole Foods my number back in December telling them to reserve me one if they got some in. They called about 3 weeks later and said they had one- YEY!!! And that it would be $179!! Um...Not so yey.
I can't afford that! The 2002 was only around $100. I was shocked and decided that even though I really wanted to try it I just didn't have the funds.
I was a little upset but I moved on...until last week when something caught my eye. We were looking for a place to watch the football games at on Sunday and I was checking various bar websites looking for specials. As I was checking out the Village Pourhouse I saw they were doing a Brewtopia night where you could buy various tastes of beer for $1 a taste. The real thing that caught my eye though was at the very bottom. they would also be selling tastes of Sam Adams Uptopias for $13.
I was so excited!! Yes $13 is a lot when you only get around 1 oz of beer but hey-- I needed to try it.
So Mr. T and I met up and got our Utpoias first thing.
Just in case you don't know, the Sam Adams Utopias isn't just any beer. It's the strongest and most expensive beer in the world weighing in at 27% alcohol. Its actually considered a Barley wine. As you can see from the picture there was absolutely no head whatsoever to the beer.
Wow!! When I took a whiff it almost knocked me off my barstool! It smelled like the bottle of Sherry I took out of my parents liquor cabinet when I was a rebellious teenager (that was a BAD hangover)! I mean this smelled strong!!
I took a sip and it burned a little at first. Kind of like taking a sip of Brandy. But then something wonderful happened. It really mellowed out. The aftertaste was smooth and a little sweet. Very tasty!! This is the kind of drink you relax and enjoy.
I'll admit I think I like the Thomas Hardy's Barley Wine better. I simply enjoy the flavor more, but this was an experience and I'm so happy I got to try it!
There were about 50 beers on the menu available for tasting and Mr. T and I realized we had actually already tried them all except for 4 beers. We were pretty impressed with ourselves although their were no Belgians on the menu and some crappy Germans.
We tried the four we had never had and then left. The place was getting really packed and we just wanted to go home and get some shut eye before the long weekend. All in all a success!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
We stopped in to the new hot spot Allen and Delancey on Saturday night and it was packed! We got there bout 5:45 and had to wait about 10 minutes for a seat at the bar to open up.
What a gorgeous space though! I got a chance to look around a little and now I know why people are calling it a romantic place. Candles everywhere and just a cozy feel to the whole place. Unfortunately they were completely booked for the night so we just grabbed a drink.
I ordered the Delancey and Mr. T ordered the Allen. Aren't we the yuppies!!!
The Delancey is basically prosecco with elderflower syrup and a splash of pomegranate juice. Very pink and girly- a good drink. I am hoping to go back soon and try out some of the food. Neil Fergusen is supposed to be pretty handy in the kitchen.
Monday, January 14, 2008
So Mr. T was dying for some soup dumplings this past weekend so we headed down to Chinatown to indulge. Our first stop was for me though as I was wanting some Bubble Tea. We stopped into Vivi Bubble Tea. This place is a girl's paradise! Everything inside is pink and they play some really poppy Japanese music. The girls behind the counter are just like the store- cute, bright and bubbly. They had tons of flavors and I had trouble deciding what to get. I finally settled on the Chocolate Mochi Bubble Tea.
The neatest thing about the tea is the lid. They slap a plastic film on the cup so you just have to poke your straw through like a Capri Sun kind of! The bubble tea was pretty good. Next time I would get a regular black bubble tea to see how it compares to other ones I've had.
Next we walked over to Joe's Shanghai but of course there was a line out the door. We didn't feel like waiting so we went back over to Bayard Street and got a table at Yeah Shanghai.
The outside is pretty crummy looking but the interior is quite nice.
We sat down and ordered some Pork Soup Dumplings and some Tiny Fried Buns. First came the Soup Dumplings.
These were piping hot and delicious!!! You have to be careful when you eat these things or you'll get burnt. The trick is to bite off the top and let the steam from the dumpling escape. The you just pop the whole thing in your mouth.
It's really crazy how they get so much soup inside a little dumpling.
Next came the tiny fried buns. I'm not ure why these are called tiny since they were anything but smalls! They were huge!!! I really liked these. The tops were a little salty and the bottoms were fried crispy.
These were basically just a bigger version of the soup dumplings except that the soup got absorbed into the dough of the dumpling.
The pork was delicious!!!! Yum!!!! We were so stuffed we had 3 buns left over and couldn't even think about finishing them.
Then they brought us the check and I couldn't help but laugh. See what they gave us with it?
Hershey's chocolates!!! No fortune cookies or Chinese dessert but Hershey's! Now I love chocolate so it was a nice surprise but I just found it comical.
Anyway for $9.50 for everything Yeah Shanghai cannot be beat. I wish I lived closer to Chinatown. I'd be full every night for a lot less money!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
So Mr. T and I had an excellent day yesterday traveling around Chinatown and the Lower East Side basically just getting different culinary treats which I'll post about later, but one of our big stops was to Doughnut Plant. Actually here's what happened.
Friday night we came up with a plan to go to Chinatown and wander around and get some soup dumplings. I woke up Saturday morning and while Mr. T was getting ready I decided to see what was on TV. Saturday morning TV is pretty bad and the only 2 channels I usually check out are the Food Network (for obvious reason) and the Travel Channel (in hopes they will do something about food). Luckily for me they were! They had an entire show dedicated to doughnuts! I watched eagerly waiting to see if they would go to Doughnut Plant and of course they did!!!
After watching all of that I knew we had to get some.
So after Chinatown we wandered over to the store. It seems a lot of people watched that show because there was bigger line than usual waiting for donuts. We had to wait about 10 minutes before we got to order and once we were there I realized in horror that they were out of my favorite kind! The Tres Leches!!!
I was upset but that didn't stop me from ordering something else- so I went for the 2 new kinds they were promoting the Gingerbread and the Pistachio.
Once we were out the door we dug in! Here's the Gingerbread:
This was exactly what I expected. A great gingerbread flavor with a huge amount of icing. No Tres Leches but really good!
The Pistachio was really good as well but a little bit weak. I thought there would be a stronger pistachio flavor to it but it was a little bland.
Anyways I was happy but not quite fulfilled. And when Im not fulfilled I just can't stop.
I woke up this morning at 8:00 sharp with doughnuts on my mind. I NEEDED a Tres Leches!!! I couldn't stop thinking about it!
Now Doughnut Plant is quite a ways away from my apartment and I did have some things to do before all of the football games were going to start so I checked the Doughnut Plant's website to see where else their doughnuts are carried.
I saw that Dean & Deluca and Joe's Coffee both have them. Since these 2 places are only about 15 blocks away I decided to head out. My first stop was Dean & Deluca.
They had the Pistachio, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Blackout and regular Glazed. No Tres Leches! So I walked over to Joe's.
I was excited when I looked in Joe's case- it looked like there was one Tres Leches left! I ordered a coffee and asked about the doughnut. "Oh that? That's the new Meyer Lemon flavor". Doh!!
So what did I do? I got it.
Yes that is the Meyer Lemon and it is quite tasty. No Tres Leches, but quite tasty.
So my question is- who's eating all the doughnuts? I am in dire need of some!!!