Craftbar is Craft's informal sister-restaurant, where Chef Tom Colicchio applies the same philosophy of simple food derived from the finest ingredients, to casual dining.
I've seen Tom Colicchio as head judge of the reality cooking show, Top Chef. I didn't know much about his cooking style but I guess the show worked for him because I looked up his restaurants in New York and made a point of going - to one of the cheaper ones at least.
Craft Bar has an odd atmosphere, it seemed kind of unfinished to me. High ceilings, white walls, a cement floor...the one unique thing was a catwalk crossing the space, though it didn't seem to have any purpose other than for storage. I suppose the atmosphere was good for the young, casual crowd. The servers were dressed casually, with black t-shirts and pants.
As a starter our server brought little crispy bread sticks that had a nice saltiness that I couldn't resist. We each ordered appetizers. I had the pecorino fondue which had a little sweetness to it, with a few hazelnuts on top. I didn't think of it as fondue, more just a broiled cheese with some chips. But regardless, it was cheese and it was good combination of sweet and salty. V had a squash and gruyere soup that was not too sweet and a great dish for fall. Another appetizer was the chickpea fries, which were rather interesting. They were very thick, probably half-inch square and a few inches long, they were 'supple' but not very crispy. The olive aoli dip that came with them was very good.
For entrees we each tried something different. V and her friend, Lonestar, each had the chantorelle risotto that I found to be really, really good - it was very smooth, almost cheesy. The braised short ribs, in a mild consommé were delicious and very tender. The hangar steak, which I ordered, was fairly peppery, but quite tender, which is a feat with this cut. The onions and potatoes on the side were also very good.
Overall I found the menu at Craftbar to be well...crafted. The dishes were unique, and along with that, the service was very good. It ended up being an expensive meal, but we went all out, with two courses each and plenty of drinks. I was definitely satisfied with the meal and the restaurant as a whole. I'll have to try the other Craft restaurants now!