Slow biz and showbiz make for a good dining deal at Craft Dallas at the W Hotel in Victory Park right now. With dinner service falling off during summer doldrums, the restaurant is offering a special called "Stop, Dine and Roll" for arts patrons headed to evening events at the Wyly Theatre, Winspear Opera House or Meyerson Symphony Center in the nearby downtown Arts District.
For $45, a diner picks two courses from Craft's "market menu dinner" choices. Service is guaranteed to get all the courses on the table and the diner out the door in one-hour flat. Also included, and this is the best part: free valet parking at the hotel for the evening, with free transportation to the Arts District venue provided in one of the hotel's Acura SUVs (which can seat up to five). Patrons will be picked up and driven back to the hotel after the show, where they might want to have a coffee or drink in one of the W's bars before going home. With parking at the Wyly and Winspear's underground lots going for between $10 and $25, this makes Craft's deal even sweeter. (Just be sure to mention the "Stop, Dine and Roll" phrase when making the reservation -- 214-397-4111 -- to be assured of the ride and pick-up in the Arts District.)
Three or four years ago, Craft Dallas was a top choice of trend-magnet power foodies. People always complained about the restaurant's noise levels, sometimes haphazard service and high prices. But whines were drowned out by louder huzzahs for the food itself. Served family style (meaning each dish is placed in the center of the table to be shared), the artisanal steaks, garden-crisp veggies and rich ice creams follow chef/owner Tom Colicchio's mandate that meals should be a communal experience made of the best possible ingredients.
With the kitchen now under the guidance of Chef de Cuisine Jeff Harris, a University of North Texas grad, Craft's menus, which change slightly each day, continue to feature well-reviewed favorites such as the braised short ribs, handmade gnocchi and what some local food mavens have declared the best burger in the city. And compared with some of the new surf-and-turf houses on the restaurant scene, even the a la carte pricing at Craft Dallas doesn't seem that outrageous anymore.
Business has been slow at Craft lately, except when Top Chef reality TV star Colicchio himself is on the scene. He was here for a booked-up two-night stint recently but didn't even bother to tell his 25,196 Twitter followers he was in Dallas. (He's on Twitter here, by the way.)
We dropped in for lunch recently with Craft's new social media marketing guy, William Lanier. (He's also a style blogger and a Dallas actor.) He's Tweeting up news from the W and Craft and working with the marketing team to try to lure those power-foodies back to the tables. At the noon hour we were the only patrons in the joint. Certainly no noise complaints now, except that maybe the medley of Beatles tunes on the in-house stereo were a tick too dentist's waiting room. Service was attentive, friendly but not intrusive. And the food -- fresh diver scallops, cold heirloom tomato soup and braised carrots -- was flawless.
Valet parking for all lunch and dinner patrons is free with validation by the maitre d'. There's also plenty of on-street free parking right outside the W now that Victory Park's retail biz has vanished.
Dinner and a show is our favorite entertainment combo. And for Craft, it could be a smart strategy to get more customers to show up.
Craft Dallas W Hotel 2440 Victory Park Lane, suite 100 214-397-4111