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Craftsteak


oakapple
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The big issue with craftsteak is their lousy winelist. Odd vintages (who sells '83 Bordeaux?), strange wines, no big names.

some people ascribe to the idea that off vintages allow the food to shine, but i have no idea whether that was the wine buyer's intent. i'm curious about the smaller names. perhaps there are some really good choices that should be hand sold to customers by sommeliers/waitstaff. perhaps i shouldn't be participating in this thread, as i'm more of a bistro steak-frites gal than a steakhouse one, although this is due more to monetary limitataions than to preference of one over the other.

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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Craftsteak is special, being a creation of the sainted Tom Colicchio (Gramercy Tavern, Craft, Craftbar, Craftsteak Las vegas).

The space is comfortable and gorgeous. My friend was distracted all evening by a spectacular mural of the Chelsea landscape that takes up the whole back wall. You never thought Chelsea looked so good! I was, on the other hand, distracted by the floor-to-ceiling wine cellar that separates the dining room from the bar, where there is ample seating for the casual visitor.

i'm excited about the prospect of a non-traditional steakhouse done up colicchio-style. in addition to price, the traditional, old-style steakhouse atmosphere is often what keeps me away from steakhouses. i may well start saving up for this one.

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Frank Bruni weighed in today with one star, taking issue with the excess variety of steak offerings, as well as the preparation style of the steaks ("roasting"), but applauding the sides and other main course offerings. Seems like, the way he sees it, an ideal meal at Craftsteak starts with some fresh oysters and tartares, followed by a salad of fava beans and hazelnuts, a sweetbreads entree, and a "salty" chocolate tart for dessert.

Here's a link to Bruni's review:

http://events.nytimes.com/2006/07/12/dinin...ews/12rest.html

Edited by bethala (log)

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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Frank Bruni weighed in today with one star, taking issue with the excess variety of steak offerings, as well as the preparation style of the steaks ("roasting"), but applauding the sides and other main course offerings.  Seems like, the way he sees it, an ideal meal at Craftsteak starts with some fresh oysters and tartares, followed by a salad of fava beans and hazelnuts, a sweetbreads entree, and a "salty" chocolate tart for dessert. 

Here's a link to Bruni's review:

http://events.nytimes.com/2006/07/12/dinin...ews/12rest.html

The steaks are prepared by roasting them, not braising...

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Frank Bruni weighed in today with one star, taking issue with the excess variety of steak offerings, as well as the preparation style of the steaks ("roasting"), but applauding the sides and other main course offerings.  Seems like, the way he sees it, an ideal meal at Craftsteak starts with some fresh oysters and tartares, followed by a salad of fava beans and hazelnuts, a sweetbreads entree, and a "salty" chocolate tart for dessert.  

Here's a link to Bruni's review:

http://events.nytimes.com/2006/07/12/dinin...ews/12rest.html

The steaks are prepared by roasting them, not braising...

yep, just caught, and edited, that. tks.

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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I don't see why Bruni is surprised by the cooking method. Searing followed by roasting is the best way to go with a thick rib steak.

Does this guy know ANYTHING about cooking? Or is he just one of those gourmet bon vivant types? :hmmm:

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I don't see why Bruni is surprised by the cooking method. Searing followed by roasting is the best way to go with a thick rib steak.

Does this guy know ANYTHING about cooking? Or is he just one of those gourmet bon vivant types?  :hmmm:

he didn't seem that surprised. he was just stating fact.

craftsteak isn't necessarily serving thick rib steaks any more than any other steakhouse in NYC, and probably less-so. they treat all of their steaks (many cuts, many thicknesses) the same way. is it a shock that a NYC steakhouse isn't broiling or grilling? yeah, i think it sort of is. is this a new concept to Bruni? hard to say from the article, but i'd have to guess probably not. does it help their steaks? eh. maybe. maybe not.

Edited by tommy (log)
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I don't see why Bruni is surprised by the cooking method. Searing followed by roasting is the best way to go with a thick rib steak.

Does this guy know ANYTHING about cooking? Or is he just one of those gourmet bon vivant types?  :hmmm:

Bruni's complaint clearly pertained to all of the steaks, not just thick rib steaks.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Aside from the gratuitous reference to gay cattle, I thought the review was right on the money.

True!!

This might have been one of the most expensive and unsatisfying meal in the last 5 years.

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Ate at Craftsteak last night. The place is huge and stylish, in a great trendy neighborhood. My companion and I had the kumomoto oysters and the sweetbreads for appetizers, both delicious. The sweetbreads were tender, large, and perfectly cooked. Then came the cow. After endless deliberation, we chose a Hawaiian Grass-Fed Ribeye and a 42-day Ridgefield Farm Corn-Fed Premium Hereford Beef

New York Strip (Dry-Aged In-House)...I mean, come on, how pretentios is that? Anyway, we would have forgiven the annoying headlines if these slabs of beef had any taste, but they didn't. The grass-fed beef tasted too much like grass. And the 42-day strip tasted a day too old. I ate no more than a few bites of my steak. The wild mushroom mix and fava beans, though, were good. So all you vegetarians with fat wallets out there, rejoice.

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Went to Craftsteak a couple of nights ago.

It was an interesting evening--a night of one high and several lows--too many for a restaurant that charges the fees this one does. That said, I had the best steak tonight that I believe I've ever had in my life. Let me explain.

We arrived, and were asked to sit at the bar. OK, we did--though I'm always a touch disappointed in this when we arrive at the time of our actual reservation. My partner ordered a cocktail; by the time I was ready to order, we were informed our table was ready.

Non-descript table for 2 along a long banquette. I ordered a glass of the Moet & Chandon 1999 which was not cheap, but after an evening of debauchery the prior night, I did not want a cocktail per se. Lovely wine, and served quickly and nicely.

We ordered the onion rings to munch on while we decided on the full order. However, we were informed that the kitchen prefers the full order at once and not being ones to argue, we complied, but said we'd still like the onion rings to start before anything. The waiter was very accomodating and said no problem at all.

The onion rings were mediocre, and actually, a bit disappointing. Too much oil, and no real seasonings. Last night we had great onion rings a la Floyd Cardoz at Bread Bar at Tabla. Tonight, in contrast, oil is predominant on the palate and no real flavor except for crunchy onion, which was ok.

My first course was the copper river salmon belly tartare--diced copper river salmon in a creme fraiche (I believe creme fraiche). Good enough, but where's the flavor? Taste? Kick? Bland salmon, bland fraiche, no real zing or kick or predominant flavor. Good enough bot not great. I relied on a 2nd glass of the champagne to give me flavor. I did enjoy the champagne.

My partner had prosciutto--fine and good quality. Maybe not as good as the best Italian deli's in town, but certainly fine and no complaints.

Next up--Steve--I was all set to order the skirt steak. It was not on the menu tonight! I even asked the waiter about it, and he said "We don't have it tonight." So, we ordered the Waygu porterhouse 32 oz for two.

Probably the best steak I've had in my entire life. Truly great. Yes, like others, I wished for some char on the outside, but still. Cooked as ordered (medium rare), this tasted nutty and had an aged quality. Lovely. Frankly, this is the beef analogue to a sort of Iberico--it was really tasting of acorn, mineral, age, and tons of flavor. Texture was so tender. I loved this steak. Served already cut, with the bone marrow on the side. This dish made the entire meal.

Hen of the woods mushrooms--lovely--properly cooked and tasty.

Gratin (potato)--nice, not different from many finer steak houses.

Lamb quarters sauteed--inedible. Tasted so salty it was as if an entire Morton's salt container had been used. I sent them back with no protest from the wait staff. Substituted green beans. Fine, nondescript, too much butter. Forgettable.

No dessert--too full by this point.

Wine with dinner--I had brought a 1977 Ch. Montelena, and it was served properly, and before (as I had made a point of asking) the steak was served. At first, when asked, I said not to decant, but apparently the wait staff had a problem with the cork and asked if they could decant it. Fine, I said. Wine was lovely--pre-phylloxera 29 year old California cab. Great wine.

In all, the steak made the meal. Otherwise, it would have been a disaster. But I can still taste that aged (28 day) Wagyu porterhouse. I would still compare it in the beef world to a lovely leg of Iberico jamon in a way--in terms of the acorn, nutty flavor.

Will I be back? Reluctantly, yes, though the tarrif is high. But still, better than BLT Steak, by a long shot ,and this place allows BYOB.

Going in the right direction. My advice: Hire a stronger chef de cuisine.

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Will I be back? Reluctantly, yes, though the tarrif is high. But still, better than BLT Steak, by a long shot ,and this place allows BYOB.

thanks for a very informative report! i'm curious, what is the byob corkage fee?

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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Paul Lukas of the New York Sun weighs in this morning on Craftsteak and has the same issue as Bruni did with regards to the steaks being baked

"In fact, the most notable thing about the steaks' flavor was what they were lacking: char. Restaurant steaks are typically either grilled or broiled, but these appeared to have been baked.There were no blackened grill marks, no charred outer crust, and consequently none of that delicious, slightly bitter counterpoint that's usually provided by a steak's exterior. It made for a frustrating eating experience... Almost everything else at Craftsteak is terrific. But there's no getting around it: A steakhouse that serves mediocre steak — no matter what its provenance — is a failure."

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It seems that a lot of folks, critics and consumers alike, equate char with excellence. I don't think that assumption holds up. At best, char-broiling (and the resulting char) is a preference among methods of cooking steak. At worst, a charred exterior masks the flavor of great steak.

Alain Ducasse, Tom Colicchio and several other top chefs are known for cooking steak using the pan-searing followed by pan-roasting method. They believe, as Ducasse has written in the New York Times and elsewhere, that this kind of cooking -- slower and gentler than char-broiling -- brings out the flavor of the meat rather than the burnt flavor that can result from scorching flames.

I haven't been to Craftsteak (I have had the steak at Craft and think it's one of the best in town), so I'm certainly not challenging anybody's claims that the steaks aren't good, however I do think that the reasoning "it's not charred therefore it's not good" is flawed.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It seems that a lot of folks, critics and consumers alike, equate char with excellence. I don't think that assumption holds up. At best, char-broiling (and the resulting char) is a preference among methods of cooking steak. At worst, a charred exterior masks the flavor of great steak.

Alain Ducasse, Tom Colicchio and several other top chefs are known for cooking steak using the pan-searing followed by pan-roasting method. They believe, as Ducasse has written in the New York Times and elsewhere, that this kind of cooking -- slower and gentler than char-broiling -- brings out the flavor of the meat rather than the burnt flavor that can result from scorching flames.

I haven't been to Craftsteak (I have had the steak at Craft and think it's one of the best in town), so I'm certainly not challenging anybody's claims that the steaks aren't good, however I do think that the reasoning "it's not charred therefore it's not good" is flawed.

I have not eaten at Craftsteak either and so cannot comment on their steaks, but I agree with you Fat Guy with regards to pan roasting. Aside from the fact that it engulfs my one bedroom in smoke, when I cook a rib eye (my preffered cut) at home, I sear it in a pan, which gives me a uniformed carmelization across the entire steak. Depending upon how thick it is, I will either finish it off in the in the oven or the pan. My only issue sometimes is that I preffer my rib eye on the bone, which does not always lay flat in the pan, but I will just cut it off later and finish it in the broiler.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

This week, I head meals at two steakhouses I’ve reviewed before: Wolfgang’s TriBeCa and Craftsteak. Both appear to be midlly struggling restaurants, although for different reasons. Wolfgang’s had lengthy opening delays. I’ve been in there twice now, and while the restaurant certainly doesn’t seem to be failing in any sense, it certainly doesn’t have the heavy crowds that the original Wolfgang’s did. It appears you can walk in just about any time and get a table.

Craftsteak ought to have been a sure bet, with a celebrity chef/owner (Tom Coliccio) who has been successful wherever he went and a brand name (Craft) that has always stood for quality. But the restaurant was pilloried in one review after another for the same highly peculiar reasons: Craftsteak didn’t know how to cook a steak; the menu was over-wrought and wordy. How hard could it be? Manhattan is overflowing with competent steakhouses. Surely steak is the one thing a steakhouse should know how to prepare. But apparently Craftsteak did not. In two separate interviews, Coliccio admitted they had blown it, and he even arranged an amicable split with partner Danny Meyer at Gramercy Tavern so that he could focus on his Craft properties.

At Wolfgang’s this week, I ordered the New York Strip. At $36.50, it is one of the better steak prices in New York City. It came sizzling hot, perfectly charred on the outside, achingly tender on the inside. The steak was sliced in the traditional Peter Luger style. My server not only served the first several slices, but kept returning to my table to serve more. For quality and attention, it could not be beat. Wolfgang’s is a traditional steakhouse, populated mostly by businessmen. It is not for everybody. But in its genre, Wolfgang’s is doing a superb job.

At Craftsteak too, it was no problem to just waltz in and ask for a table. Unlike Wolfgang’s, Craftsteak has the trappings of a high-end restaurant. I actually saw two tables with only women seated. There was a tasty amuse-bouche of a cube of goat cheese on a thin wafer. At the end of my meal, a plate of petits-fours was dropped off. Wolfgang's has neither. Both restaurants have better-than-average bread service, but Craftsteak’s piping-hot Parker-house rolls in a cast-iron serving dish are some of the best in the city. A side dish of Wagyu confit potatoes was excellent.

Both the dinner and the dessert menu at Craftsteak are reprinted daily. (At Wolfgang’s, it probably won’t be reprinted until the prices go up.) The menu has changed considerably since the last time I saw it. It no longer prints the biography of every slaughtered cow it sells, although there is still a choice between grass-fed and corn-fed beef. The strip steak is now offered at three different ages (28, 42, and 56-day), rather than six. The Wagyu offerings have been simplified too. The old Craftsteak was offering far too many options.

But ultimately, we must judge a place like Crafsteak for its steak. And again last night, Craftsteak stumbled. I decided to splurge for the New York Strip aged 56 days. This should be the house’s signature item. At $52, it is the most expensive entrée you can order, except for Wagyu beef and steaks for two (porterhouse or ribeye, $88). I also thought it would be a useful comparison to the strip at Wolfgang’s, which is only $36.50.

Early on, Craftsteak was criticized for not putting a char on the outside of its steaks. The menu still says "roasted," so I explicitly asked for a medium-rare temperature with charring on the outside. “Pittsburgh medium rare,” my server responded. I have never heard the term “Pittsburgh” applied to steak, but he assured me that this meant it would be charred. If the steak was charred, you could have fooled me. There was no char on the exterior that I could detect.

Inside, the steak was indeed medium rare, but it was tough and chewy. This is what 56-day aging gets you? Wolfgang’s doesn’t tell you how long their strip steak is aged, but for $15.50 less, the New York Strip at Wolfgang’s runs circles around Craftsteak.

I decided to give dessert a try. A pound cake topped with raspberries and ice cream was wonderful, as indeed was everything about Craftsteak that isn’t a steak. If Tom Coliccio could only figure out how to prepare a steak, he might have a three-star restaurant. But what good is a steakhouse that can’t do steak?

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