Going to Craft without my camera was an absent-minded move. But since it's not a dainty kind of place with an excruciatingly delicate plating style, let me set the scene of the table: plates and cast iron cauldrons heaped full of direct, single-ingredient focused, rich dishes that all tasted amazing on a rainy Los Angeles night. I wasn't even cranky about waiting half and hour for our table. The ginger-spiked sidecar helped ease that situation, too.
Sometimes I love not quite knowing what to expect when I order a dish and finding out what a cryptic or, realistically, pretentious description yields. Then other times it's more satisfying to know that what you see is what you'll get, especially with the understanding that you'll get the best ingredients and preparation. Since it'd been a while since my last Big Fancy Dinner, the latter worked best for my wants and needs. I didn't want to be let down or confused, and I was neither at Craft. I would be happy with almost everything on the menu , so we had to order the family style items with laser beam focus.
Choosing once was hard enough. What to do next time? Re-experience the extraordinary surprising juicy Peruvian octopus with thick Greek yogurt, molten tender short ribs, perfectly roasted beet salad, and creative duck egg/ waffle combo? Not to mention the meaty and silky hen of the woods mushrooms and Brussels sprouts with thick hunks of crisp bacon. Best to go with more friends willing to blow a wad to revisit these faves, and try to make a dent in the wide (literally) menu. (I now understand why it's the best utilitarian agent power lunch spot for people who eat there several times a week.)
Despite early criticisms of exorbitant prices, ordering right doesn't mean having to wash dishes given Craft's brand of swanky, expense account eating. We even had a few morsels left over. Our four first courses, three seconds, and two sides formula worked out just fine. I'm certainly not saying it's not expensive, though.
Oh, and we can't forget the final touches. Sweet, sweet dessert made us swoon, including an amuse bouche that tasted like liquid cheesecake with mango bits. Will someone further east in L.A. please make a meyer lemon chiboust that's as airy and delectable as Craft's, and paired with funky goods like fluffy, complexly textured coconut cake and thyme sorbet? I'm not a donut fanatic, but those went fast at our table and were instant buddies with the sarsaparilla, maple bacon, and creamsicle ice creams and sorbets.
Regarding the fruit of the vine, I'll be going to Mission Wines to pick up some Betts & Scholl Grenache Chronique. Given the intensity and range of Craft's menu, it's a tall order to pick versatile wines, but this lighter, not overly ripe one hit all the right notes. Plus you gotta love a wine named for Dr. Dre.
To end things right, the parting gift was a warm fuzzy in the cold corporate environment of Century City. Maybe There Ain't No Such Thing as Free Food an Expensive Meal (T.A.N.S.T.A.F.F.E.M.), but the moist carrot raisin muffins gave us a bonus perk of something else predictably delicious to savor the next morning.