By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Like Swiss chard. It's served on a long white platter, deep green wilted leaves and stems pushed up into a berm across the center. The leaves are blanched and chilled before they're heated in olive oil in which garlic has been sautéed. The leaves are cooked until the leaf edges are crispy. It's simple and nourishingly tasty.
Among the most profound of these non-compositions is the Kobe skirt steak. We've tasted lots of pricey, prodigiously marbled Kobe cuts butchered from the decadently pampered Wagyu cattle. Most of them haven't impressed sufficiently enough to justify the high price. This meat is different. Though the skirt steak is an "inferior" cut on account of toughness (it's essentially the diaphragm muscle), it can unravel some surprisingly lush flavors, and when subjected to kitchen skill, even its inherent flaws can be neutralized--not that Kobe beef's predisposition to intense marbling didn't play a role here.
It's simply produced: an 8-ounce steak that's roasted, sliced and served in bordelaise. The slices are deep ruby and tender and rich juices flow with the intensity of a toddler's drool; it's some of the best red meat we've ever had.
Swiss chard aside, the Craft concept is hardly better expressed than it is in the salmon, a simple fish section roasted and seasoned and plopped on a white plate with pickled celery and Champagne grapes as garnishments. These are ingenious implements for harnessing the fats and potent richness of salmon while at the same time leveling an undercurrent of sweetness to tame the tamers. Lesser houses would just simply squeeze lemons and be done with it, which means that sometimes even brevity isn't simple.
This same philosophy is applied to the roasted halibut, and why not? It's a milder fish, but surely the apple cider reduction with Granny Smith apple bits doesn't strike with the heft of pickled celery. Anyway, a few streaks of yellow beet puree throw a little sweetness into the shadows to counteract any overbearing course corrections of the cider.
Like the halibut or the beets or the Swiss chard, Craft décor is an exercise in elegant minimalism. Seats are leather, but the leather is expressed as a mesh. Tables are thick walnut from which a slotted platform can be pulled for wine service. Semi-circular banquette spaces are separated from one another by lighted tubes that rise up like bamboo stalks. Thin irregular stalks, tightly assembled in rows, hang down from the ceiling and terminate in glowing filament bulbs like some meticulously tended crop.
Our meal began with a complimentary aperitif of salt cod balls in fine herb sauce and ended with a berry gratin in a biscotti crust. Everything in between was briefly expressed, but left impressions that won't soon recede. Unlike other recent Gotham transplants, Craft is a keeper. 2440 Victory Park Lane, 214-397-4111. Open 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $$$$