Sunday, March 1, 2009


It was just about a month ago when I traveled down to LA and San Diego for a short vacation with CarboOverload who was there for work. I wish this was the right venue to share the highlights from the rest of the trip but it wouldnt even come close to doing it justice, it was beyond interesting. It has taken me longer than I would have liked to write this post but here we go.

If you watch Top Chef you know who Tom Colicchio is and he also happens to own Craft Restaurants. I was invited by Carbo to enjoy a dinner with her on the first night I arrived in LA, and everyone at the hotel said Craft because it was just down the street. We called to check if we needed a reservation but they had room for us regardless. The restaurant is in a non-descript office tower complex down a narrow walkway in the middle of Century City and not surrounded by much. It is definitely a destination eatery. When you walk in you are right in the bar. This bar was small and awkward, it had too much lighting and was more like a lobby. They offered us a seat in the bar but we told them we would take the dining room.

When we were seated I looked around and noticed the simple design and subtle art. The lights hanging from the celiing and the large booths made the energy very comfortable. For some reason it made me feel like I was in Las Vegas or something, but I dont know why.

We were seated and greeted with some water and a box of bread. The butter that came with it was very rich and sweet.

After the bread the server came back and dropped off some complimentary sea urchin custard. It was still a bit warm and had a very fish stick like taste. The texture was hard to enjoy, I tried my best to eat as much as possible to see if I was just missing the genius...Carbo barely had one bite.

After the custard our server returned and helped us pick out a wine. I leave that up to Carbo, I rarely have bad wine when she orders.

Carbo settled on something she has had before it was a Holus Bolus 2006 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah. I thought it was nice and rich with some deep fruit flavors, but do not know much about wine. Good choice and cool bottle.

By far the best thing that I ate at Craft was this beet salad. They were amazing pickled and roasted baby beets from local farms mixed with gorgonzola. I wish I had more words to describe them...besides awesome.

Next we shared a few gnochi which contained chestnuts and marscapone cheese. On top of the gnochi was a rich buttery red wine sauce with a touch of rosemary. They were pretty good but you couldnt eat a whole plate of those alone without getting too stuffed. They were really heavy to me.

We ordered a few sides to accompany the meal including Swiss Chard which was very well cooked and perfectly salted.

As well as some risotto, which was thin but the small bites of pork were very rich and buttery.
In the back are the diver scallops which we shared as one of our entrees. I thought they were too fishy and sort of dirty tasting. Really rustic presentation with capers and slivered almonds. I only had one...

Our other shared main was the berkshire rack of pork. The pork was light and very soft. Although you cannot see them, this dish had jalapenos which made everything pop. This pork would make a good sandwhich. Delicious.

After our meal the server showed up with another complimentary item. It was a meyer lemon soda with coconut sorbet. It was sour and sweet. I could have drank a whole glass of this if I didn't just eat a huge meal. Very good.

Although the soda was a nice touch we also decided to share a dessert. We went with the peanut cup with peanut butter brittel, caramel gelee and little caramel gelato. The peanut butter cup had a really tasty chocololate crust. This dessert was salty and rich, I loved it. The guy who makes this won LA pastry chef of the year. He knows whats up.

Now I thought we were done but arrived was another complimentary cupcakes with cinnamon frosting and a bite of what can best be described as apple and cotlets. This was a gross dessert on all levels. Dry and tasteless. Pointless as well.

Upon paying we als recived a to go pastry....nice marketing idea, but the thought of eating it even the next day was too much.

This review is bittersweet because I had the best time sharing this meal with one of my best friends, we laughed talked to the awesome servers, drank and had some really amazing food but the next day proved to change my whole attitude about the night. Now, because you cannot prove it I do not want to make harsh accusations about Craft, but the next day Carbo was bedridden from what we think was food poisoning. I had stomach issues all day but nothing half as bad as her. We think it was the scallops, I only ate one and she ate the other three. Looking back and thinking a piece of fish was too fishy and dirty that should be the heads up to pump the brakes. Im not sure if I will eat scallops again for a long time.

Let me end this on a good note, our trip was fun, lots of great memories. Thanks for taking me out to dinner Carbo. See you on our next vacation.

10100 Constellation Blvd
Los Angles, CA


TekkaDon Juan said...

oh man, i've been waiting for this one! ugh. thanks a lot, colicchio. describing anything as "dirty" tasting is really disgusting. red flag! red flag! i've never had food poisoning, knock on wood, and i'll keep that rule in my repertoire so as to continue that streak (no pun intended)

CarboOverload said...

oh the bittersweet ending... I have a self proclaimed iron stomach and colicchio took me down. Scallops are one of my faves too wish I could have blamed it on the sea urchin. Once we were eating again...that hash brown burrito may have been one of my favorite meals ever.

Suge White said...

I would still go in a second. Also, in 34 yrs and countless sketchy meals, up to and including once eating 3 week old pizza on a dare, I have never had food poisoning.

Tim said...

i thought it was funny: pump the brakes.