2005 Blue Fish Riesling
Jerry's Gourmet from Englewood: coming to Ridgewood, NJ (closed)

craftsteak, NYC: batting .500

Update:  Craftsteak has closed and changed concepts.

I'd be remiss in my duties as the self-proclaimed foremost authority on dining and most-things-taste-related (aka, "food bully") if I didn't mention my most recent visit to craftsteak, especially considering how much I enjoyed my first visit a few months ago.   My recent meal can only be categorized as not-so-good.

And it went a little something like this.  Hit it boys...

The meal started out with a selection of oysters.  They were served at a temperature that I personally appreciate (a bit on the chilly side). They were also swimming in liquor as if God himself filled them up with pure and beautiful ocean water that he created just for our table.  The cocktail sauce is a disaster, so stay away from it.  In fact, don't ever put cocktail sauce on oysters (especially if God himself has taken the time to fill those oysters with such pure and beautiful water). Thanks.  Along with cocktail sauce you get mignonette and what seemed to be freshly grated horseradish.    These were some excellent oysters, and I'd return again for a glass of crisp white wine and a doe of oysters at that raw bar of theirs.  In a heartbeat.

Once again I enjoyed the tuna tartare, which, again, was served with a light puree of some sort of herb(s).  The tuna struck me as top-notch.  The dish, and some other raw fish dishes, are curiously listed as "tartar" on their menu.  I didn't notice any mayo or pickles in the dish, however.

The pork belly is not to be missed.  In fact, you should never miss pork belly.  If you come across pork belly on a menu, you should order it.  There's no point in mulling it over.  Especially at craftsteak (or Riingo for that matter...or Wu Liang Ye for that matter).  The fat was so completely rendered that it melted away like warm butter when it hit the ol' hopper.  Yet, it retained its form on the plate.  Excellent pork pork fat.

The heirloom tomato salad was not very good.  The heirlooms in my backyard taste better.  I'm not sure what happened here.   They were only slightly better than those mostly-horrible "Jersey tomatoes" that everyone goes on about.

And then the steak.  Mamma mia what the hell happened?  I truly enjoyed my first visit.  The grass-fed steak, I thought, was wonderful!  Why then this time was it tough and near flavorless?  Completely uninteresting?  Mind-boggling mediocre?   It this simply a symptom of my progressive snobbishness and all around getting-harder-to-please-ishness?  A been-there-done-that kinda thing?  Or does craftsteak, or grass-fed beef, have a problem with consistency.   

Even beyond the grass-fed beef, I had steak issues.  The super-mega-long-time-aged 56-day dry-aged strip did nothing for me.  Just as on my last visit, I got very few traces of that minerally flavor that I associate with dry-aged beef.  And while I know the experts will remind me that dry-aging does little to tenderize beef much past the 20-day mark (or something like that), this strip was not tender in the least. 

Kobe grade 10?  They must have seen me coming.  One of my dining companions hit the nail on the head:  "I would say, Kikommon's Teriyaki."  Did they really put some sort of salty/sweet glaze on that piece of Kobe beef?  Or does it always taste and feel like that.  If it does then craftsteak has my apologies, as I clearly do not know what to expect from Kobe grade 10.  But if it's supposed to taste like Teriyaki, well I think I'll save myself the 80 bucks next time.

But hey, the polenta and the mushrooms were really good.

Word on the street is that chef/owner Tom Colicchio is doing something to address the painfully lukewarm reception that craftsteak received since opening.  Perhaps most importantly, he's installing broilers to cook the steaks.  I guess that project hasn't been completed yet, as the steaks were almost certainly roasted.  I'm going to wait for those broilers, and give it one more shot.  I must really really want to like this place, because I'm usually not so forgiving.

craftsteak : 85 Tenth Ave : New York, NY : 212.400.6699