With a day in LA on my birthday, I wanted to find somewhere remarkable to remember it. We spent the morning strolling neighboring Rodeo Drive and made our way to the business concourses of Century City where Craft sits. This is business power lunch central with plenty of super-scrubbed executive types hanging out for negotiations on their expense accounts.
We found parking underground and took advantage of the deeply discounted validation available at the restaurant. My overall impression was that Craft was unremarkably perfect. The interior was woody and sleek with a beautiful view of the grounds and plenty of exposed Edison bulbs. Our service was faultless. The waiter was friendly, prompt, engaged but not intrusive, and our meal included a visit from the dining room manager.
We tried a couple of cocktails, and my Kaffir lime vodka gimlet was one of the outstanding choices this afternoon. We sampled a half dozen oysters, two each of three types I'd never eaten before. These were interesting in that I know they were not the types of oysters you could find just on any menu, but they weren't memorable from a flavor standpoint like the ones we had last summer at an oyster bar in Seattle.
The highlight of the entire meal was a large avocado salad we divided up ourselves which included chunks of fresh avocado, spiced peanuts, and tomatillo over an avocado puree. This was absolutely sublime. Along with the perfectly crusty house bread which had a moist, chewy interior, I would have been happy to end my lunch there.
However, we also ordered entrees. I save my red meat meals for special occasions, and this was certainly one. I ordered the flat iron steak over farro with green beans and romesco covered in a tasty demi glace. My husband had the petrale sole with roasted heirloom grains (looked like barley to me) and romanesco. Both of these were done well, but not a wow experience flavor-wise.
For dessert, we each had a scoop of ice cream. I had coconut, and he had malt. They were very good. A cupcake sized chocolate torte came to the table with a candle for my birthday to end the meal before my espresso.
It was restaurateur Tom Colicchio's reputation which lured me here, and I'm certainly glad I tasted his dining experience. I'm reluctant to give this restaurant the final star because for the price point and reputation, I expected a few more "wow" moments. From my perspective, Craft Los Angeles has a Stepford ideal quality to it: pristine, perfect, and lacking soul.
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