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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Valentines @ Craft :-}

2440 Victory Park Lane, Ste 100
Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 397-4111
Price: $$$-$$$$

I went to Craft for a belated Valentine's Day dinner this past Sunday. Since the 14th was also Chinese New Year, there were many dinners and family stuff to do. We decided to postpone V-day to the 21st. Which was a good thing anyways because Craft was only offering special set menus the weekend of the 14th.

I've been wanting to try Craft for a really long time. I'm a huge fan of Top Chef so when I found out Tom Colicchio is the owner/chef of Craft, I knew I had to try it. Finally I got the chance to, also because I had a $25 off gift certificate. :P You know me...and savings... hehe. Always looking for a good deal.

Making the reservation at Craft took A LOT of effort... TOO much almost. I think I must've called 6-7 times before finally making the reservation. I called many times during lunch time and the phone would either keep ringing or go to automated system. I was only able to speak to an actual person about 3 out of the 7 calls. I wasn't too happy about that experience. Also, they don't take reservations more than 20 days in advance, so make sure you count out the days before calling them. And when I finally did make a reservation, they never entered it into the system. Good thing I had to call to reschedule (they did not find my original reservation in the system at all), so I was able to make a new one and have them email me a confirmation. How sucky would it have been if I never called back to change it?? Showing up and have them tell me there's no record... Whew...

I had pretty high hopes for Craft and this ordeal was quickly changing my mind.

So finally Sunday rolls around. The weather was dreary and rainy... bleh. Arrived at Craft and it was really empty...only 2 other tables. They seated us in a really big round booth. The decor was really nice. Not overly fancy, had a nice dim lighting, but not too dark. There were these lighted tubes that went up to the ceiling surrounding the booth so it made it seem more private.

Our waiter was really friendly. He gave us the menu and took our drink orders. The menu at Craft is very minimalistic. No descriptions, just the dish name and price. I usually prefer to see descriptions so I know what all is in the dish. But the entrees there did not come with sides. You had to order the sides separately...meant for sharing. Prices were pretty expensive. Average $30 per entree...and another $8-10 per side dish.

They brought us some bread and we made our order. While waiting for the food, they served us an Amuse Bouche. I can't remembered the name they said when it was presented to us...but it tasted like crispy pork skin in a slightly sweet and tangy sauce. I love crispy pork skin but this was fried a little too much...TOO crispy, and not enough of the sauce.

Right before dinner was served, they brought out a plate of Mixed Baby Lettuces & Sherry Vinaigrette $10~ They told us it was on the house! :) WOOT! I love free food! haha. We had forgo the salad to order a 2nd side so this was perfect! The salad was more than enough for 2 to share. The greens were very fresh and crisp. I also liked the vinaigrette but I think they could've put just a smidge less because it was a little tart for me. After all that food...Dinner is served!

Roasted Gulf Red Snapper (with carrot puree) $29~
The fish was about 5-6 ounces...I think? It wasn't very big. It was really good though. I hate carrots, but I really liked the carrot puree. It added a sweet creaminess to the fish. I would've preferred the skin of the fish to be crispier, but I guess if it's roasted, the skin doesn't crisp up that much. My bf enjoyed the fish a lot, he said it was cooked perfectly. I got the thinner half so it was just a tad dry, but still very good. I don't think it was worth $29 though...

Roasted Rack of Pork $32~
I really liked this dish. It had an Asian flavor to it. My mom makes this Chinese dish with basil and chicken, and the flavor of the pork reminded me of that. They also had a couple fried basil leaves in the dish. The pork was cooked nicely, very tender and juicy. It also had just enough fat around the sides to keep the meat moist but not greasy. There were also little chunks of thick cut bacon or something in there...added a little smokey flavor. I love pork...and they did a good job with this.

Sauteed Swiss Chard $8~ I always see contestants use Swiss Chard on Top Chef, so I was curiou to try it. I've heard that it's similar to spinach, which I like. It was really good. I like it better than spinach, I think it has a better texture. I could really taste the vegetable, it wasn't overly seasoned or greasy. It felt clean and healthy.

Ricotta Cavatelli & Butternut Squash $10~ When I ordered this, the waiter was very excited. He said it was one of his favorites on the menu. It looked delicious. Cheesy pasta...who doesn't love that! hehe. I've never had Cavatelli me it seemed like a miniture gnocchi. It has the same consistency and texture. I'm a huge fan of gnocchi so it was REALLY good! I wish the chunks of butternut squash were bigger though. I loved this dish...I can probably eat it as my main entree.

We were quite full after all the food, but of course we have to get dessert!!!

After we ordered the dessert, they gave us more free food! A pre-dessert dessert...Citrus Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit Jelly. It was really cute in the little shot glasses. The panna cotta was silky and creamy and the jelly added a nice contrast with it's slight tartness. It was yummy! :)

Then our dessert came. Scharffenberger Chocolate Tart, Roasted Marshmallows, Almond Honey Ice Cream $10~ (It normally comes with coconut sorbet, but I'm not a fan of coconut so I asked if we could substitute it.) This dessert was recommended by the waiter. He described it as S'mores on steroids. haha. And it SURE was! The chocolate tart was rich and thick, almost like a thick layer of dark dark chocolate ganache. It was a slightly more bitter dark chocolate, but paired with the sweet marshmallows it was perfect. It balanced out the flavors so it wasn't overly sweet. The marshmallows had a nice crust on the outside from being roasted. And they were sooo cute on top of the tart. The almond honey ice cream paired really well with the tart as well. Not too overpowering, just added that cold, creaminess to everything. Also, the crust on the tart and the cereal-y crispies under the ice cream added 2 different types of crunch. It was a great dessert! So many combinations of flavors and different textures...all worked well together.

Now we were officially stuffed! But that's not all...more food! They gave us some after dinner
snacks along with the check. It was nicely presented on a little plate. The arrangement was really dainty and cute. Caramel Popcorn & Cashews, Mini Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and House-made chocolate truffles in a cute little box. We ate a little bit, but took the chocolate and cookies to go. It was all very good. (I ate the chocolates later...both filled with chocolate ganache...YUM!)

With the $25 discount and all the free stuff they gave us, we felt like the price was somewhat justified. Plus we received really great service. The waiter was super nice, not at all snooty like what I was expecting. I think it was also good that they weren't too busy so we got some extra attention. :)

After we paid the bill, the waiter came back with more goodies. He was like, "We're not done with the presents yet!" hehe. He gave us each a chocolate banana espresso muffin, nicely packaged in a plastic bag with a Craft Restaurant sticker. Wow...I've never been to a restaurant that gives so many free little surprises throughout the meal. I ate the muffin later in the week as a snack. It was awesome. I could taste the banana and the hint of espresso. There were large chunks of chocolate throughout...soooo very tasty!

Overall it was a great night. The booth made us feel like we had our own private dining area. The lighting was very romantic. Great service throughout the meal and the food was delicious. Plus little gifts throughout the night! :D I'd say postponing V-Day dinner was a great idea! hehe.

Personally I think the prices are a little high still, so I probably won't be going back for dinner any time soon. But I've heard great things about their brunch, which is less expensive. And it IS a great place for a special occasion. So once in a while is definitely ok!

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