Craftbar, Aug. 26, 2005

900 Broadway (Between 19th and 20th Street)

Three of my coworkers and I had the pleasure of being taken to lunch by our friend and contact at PR Newswire, Hoda, today. At Hoda's recommendation, we went to Craftbar, a place that, having been discussed ad nauseum by Andrea Strong, was on my ever-growing list of must-visits. So needless to say, I was excited.

First impression was "My how we've grown up". Though I never had the chance to eat at the previous incarnation of Craftbar, I'd walked by it many times. This new space is huge. Perhaps almost too big?

I ordered the roasted and confit Barbarie duck with gooseberries and crepes. The duck breast was a small portion but packed with flavor and perfectly cooked. The confit was fantastic, expertly made and simply delicious, with just the perfect crispiness you expect from the fat. I liked the gooseberries...something I've only had in the jam form before, and the crepes were paper thin and folded into triangles and placed under the confit. Others ordered the pork, bass and skate, which looked especially good.

We shared four desserts: a chocolate mint cone, banana tart tatin with hazelnut ice cream and candied macadamian nuts (hello!), carrot cake and a lemon poppy cake with blueberries. The carrot cake was excellent and the banana tart tatin was incredible. The others were pretty good but not too memorable.

I thought the food was very solid, though I confess I would be concerned about portion size for dinner. I'm sure they offer larger portions for dinner, and for lunch it was just right (I wasn't so stuffed that I couldn't move - which is certainly never that much fun).

Service was fine. The host/waiter guy did impress me with his timing. When one of my coworkers mentioned she was a bit cold, he quickly offered her the tea menu. Nice work. He was a little stiff but he got the job done.

The one thing that bothered me the most is a really obvious demerit on an otherwise good restaurant. No less than three times did the N/R Train go rumbling underneath our table so loudly and close that it shook the utensils on our table. I won't go back, but it was worth going once. Just be prepared for a loud meal from underneath.


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