People might associate Tom Colicchio most often with Top Chef at this point, but long before the New Jersey-born, New York-based chef vaulted to televised stardom, he was on the front lines at vaunted Manhattan restaurants like The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern, which he co-owned with hospitality legend Danny Meyer until 2006. Now, Colicchio has a string of high-end, market-driven Craft Restaurants, plus fast casual ‘wichcraft. During dineLA Restaurant Week, we visited Craft Los Angeles, which resides in the shadow of CAA’s shimmering Century City headquarters, and left impressed on all levels.
Our dinner took place on the same night as a KCRW concert, so the restaurant and surrounding plaza were on lockdown. At Craft, a hedge-lined patio gives way to bar and dining room that features exposed filament bulbs, wood flooring, and glass fronted wine walls. Considering we were at a restaurant that falls just short of fine dining, they were far from straight-laced, with speakers piping Al Green and The Jackson 5’s “Dancing Machine.”
Craft’s mix and match menu features columns devoted to First Courses, Main Courses and Side Dishes, subdivided according to categories like “fish & shellfish,” “meat” and “mushrooms.” They also provide plenty of shout-outs to “great ingredients grown, raised and caught by our friends who share our commitment to serving great food,” including Bill’s Bees, Coleman Family Farm, McGrath Family Farm, Windrose Farm and Flora Bella. Chef de cuisine John Keenan and GM Stacy Bowers steered Colicchio’s L.A. ship for Craft’s thoughtful $45 dineLA dinner menu, which included several surprises and service “for the table.”
To end the experience, GM Stacy Bowers led June’s kids into the kitchen for a tour. Her daughter, who likes to cook, even got to pose for a picture with Chef Keenan at the pass.
That memorable moment at the pass cemented my belief in Craft, not just as a restaurant that’s serving some of the best seasonal American food in Los Angeles, but also as a home to staff that’s committed to going above and beyond to make guests feel welcome.