Saturday, February 02, 2008

craftsteak: Getting Better With Age

Low and Behold, Tom Colicchio's Meatpacking Gem Continues to Shine

At first glance, it's likely a neighborhood you wouldn't "stumble" upon. Tucked behind the Chelsea Market on a spooky block of 10th Avenue lies craftsteak, one of three quality restaurants located about 200 feet apart (Del Posto and Morimoto sharing the spotlight). It's an area of the Meatpacking District that doesn't get a lot of casual foot traffic.

To those of you who live below midtown, you are likely laughing at my geographical apprehension, but being an Upper Westsider, this block might as well be Siberia.

That said, for food this good, Siberia is nice this time of year.

Living in New York for more than 2 years now, I have finally graduated from my ethnic food binges to the real backbone of NYC cuisine... meat. From a dinner at Lugars to the history of a New Jersey Beefsteak meal, there is no doubt that New Yorker's celebrate a thick juicy steak like no other.

Lucky for land lubbers, New York offers just about every meat experience you can have. Swimming in butter, seared, grilled, baked, pan fried, bbq, raw and shish-kabob. From 114th to Battery Park, the city is brimming with, well, meat.

Entering craftsteak, you can't help but fall in love with the interior. The sleek, earthy, modern design tips you off that this is a place to be taken seriously... and that's exactly how I approached it.

The menu, a massive amalgamation of fresh oysters, aged steaks and creative sides, is frustrating in a sense you can't decide what you want. For some that is a good thing... for me... well, I wanted it all.

Painfully deciding to skip starters and salads, we went straight for the kill.... an aged NY strip, a grass fed ribeye. There are several Wagyu beef offerings as well, but experience tells me that this overrated grade of beef can be a waste of time and money when quality corn and grass fed steaks adorn the menu. I'll save the faux kobe experience for my next trip to Japan.

Now the dinner.

We found the steaks to be way above average. The corn-fed 42 day aged NY strip was tender and flavorful, with a slight char. The flavor of the aging was apparent, but not can often be the case. The folks at craftsteak slice the steak ala Lugar's for sharing, and idea I like.

As good as the strip was, the better option was the grass-fed, a bit milder but decidedly more savory selection. With a perfect amount of fat ribbon, this was a great pick... even at a $55 pricetag (ouch).

You can go nuts ordering side dishes. We ordered four... smothered collard greens, rosti potatoes, celery root puree and roasted Hen of the Woods mushrooms. The collards were as good as any I've had in South Louisiana, the rosti potatoes.. a hashbrown cake filed with caramelized onions was spectacular, the celery root light and delicate... and the mushrooms pan roasted crispy in butter. It made me want to order four more.

If his sounds like a lot of food, well it is. Remember, you get an outstanding amuse with a iron pot of chicken liver spread, as well as a mini-pan of delectable parker house rolls (I had an elementary school flashback). Coupled with dinner, a cocktail, a terrific glass of wine and dessert... and well, you just may need to loosen the belt a notch or two.

I can be hard on restaurants, but to be honest, I just couldn't find any faults in craftsteak. The atmosphere was delightful, the food fantastic and the service attentive and sincere. From the moment we hit the door, there was a confidence and welcome attitude that stuck with you. These are people who understand food and service, and it shows.

Are there better steak joints in NYC? Well, maybe. But for my money, craftsteak belongs in my top three.... a list that changes every six weeks or so.

It may look like Siberia, but with food this good... it's worth the trip.


85 10th Ave, New York 10011
At 15th St

Phone: 212-400-6699