(Sorry for the lack of photos…it was a family event)
Located on Broadway, three blocks north of Union Square, Craft Bar is a bustling restaurant with excellent service and delicious food. The restaurant has a constant vibe that gives great energy to the atmosphere. There are both booths and tables, but be forewarned on the booths, they are long and four people occupy only three of the sides so the two people on each end are fairly far apart. If you are looking for conversation amongst all four guests, opt for a table which are much more intimate and allow for easy conversation. We did, and the four of us spent three relaxing, unrushed hours enjoying many of the dishes.
Our server was excellent, knowledgeable, friendly, and was quick to offer suggestions, and each of his recommendations were perfect. The only drawback to the service was what I would describe as aggressive bussers; maybe they were assigned too many tables but they constantly reached across the table versus walking around. These intrusions were disruptive to the flow of the conversation. They need instructions to just walk behind each guest versus intrude.
We immediately ordered both the Cheese and Meat assortments to enjoy as we looked through the numerous small and large plate offerings.
The meats consisted of Pastrami Wagyu Beef Tongue (brined & confit beef tongue with pastrami spice) with a dab of spicy beer mustard; Chicken Liver Paté (roasted and puréed with shallot and bourbon) with strawberry jam; Country Pate (Duroc pork, morello cherry and quatre epices) with cherry mostarda; and Smoked Pig’s Head Terrine (brined and smoked pig head) with pickled mustard seed and Calabrian chile. The first two were exceptional. The thin slices of tongue were melt in your mouth tender with rich flavor and the paté was decadently delicious, smooth and rich with flavor. The slice of the country pate brought a good amount of flavor but was not in the same league as the first two and the Smoked Pig’s Head was more about texture than flavor, it was overly gelatinous and delivered no flavor.
The five cheeses included portions of Harbison (Cow) from Jasper Hill, Greensboro, VT; Pawlet (Raw Jersey Cow) from Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, VT; San Andreas (Raw Sheep) from Bellwether Farm, Sonoma County, CA; Hudson Red (Raw Cow) from Twin Maple Farm, Ghent, NY; and Point Reyes Bay Blue (Cow) from Point Reyes Farmstead, West Marin, CA. Each of these was delicious, and choosing one as a favorite is difficult as everyone at the table enjoyed all of them.
For my appetizer I ordered the Marinated Montauk Squid with lentil salad, pickled shallots, and pickled celery. This was a very refreshing dish, with beautiful colors and vibrant flavors. The amount of squid was scant, almost to the point of a scavenger hunt halfway through the course and I would have preferred much more squid. For those who are adventurous there is a duck heart and dumpling option. My daughter ordered the hearts and they were prepared medium rare; the flavor and texture reminded me of liver with incredibly rich, almost gamey flavor. The Lumache Pasta with a Bolognese Duroc pork Ragu, soffritto, and Parmigiano was very good. I really liked the choice of the pasta which held the sauce perfectly. I found the Bolognese was a little too salty but it was rich in flavor. The highlight of the meal was the Veal Breast Roulade, which was served with a potato purée, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, and watercress. I rarely find a veal breast on any menu and I asked the server his opinion prior to ordering. He smiled and said he never had a problem recommending this dish. He was correct. The veal was tender, with incredible flavor and the accompaniments were excellent choices to add flavor and texture. This rendition receives a perfect ten in my books.
Leave room for dessert as one of the choices, the Blueberry & Almond Cake with candied ginger purée, toasted almond Anglaise was outstanding and also recommended by our server. With loads of butter, this cake is slightly crispy on the exterior but the softness and flavors of the cake was outstanding and the blueberries added the sweet component. I would eat several pieces with a cup of coffee. Not in the same league was the Praline Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream, and Candied Pecans. The flavors did not work well together, almost fighting each other. I would shy away from the Chocolate Cake.
I would absolutely return to Craft Bar and try other dishes. I really enjoyed the evening.