Craft: Tom Colicchio Guides Seasonality, Warmth in Century City

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Restaurant Sign Los Angeles

Tom Colicchio opened a high-profile outpost beneath CAA headquarters.

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.”


Bread Los Angeles

Craft started us with a box of bread, one flavored with anise, the other sourdough.

Soup Los Angeles

Our amuse bouche consisted of au courant tomato gazpacho finished with olive oil.

Salad Los Angeles

Endive & Arugula salad touted orange segments and sharp Pecorino shavings.

Ham Los Angeles

A generous serving of silky G & W Ham joined sweet fig mostarda and crisp ancho cress.

Seafood Los Angeles

Diver Sea Scallop Ceviche was on the sweeter side thanks to the marinade (and watermelon) and probably didn’t pack enough acidity to end up in a ceviche textbook, but with textural contrast from micro basil and chia-like basil seeds, still worked well as a summery starter.

Steak Los Angeles

We received a choice of seven different entrees for our Second Course. My pick was Flatiron Steak with nutty Carolina Gold rice and roasted peppers, with rosy meat sporting a good sear, but a bit too much sinew.

Fish Los Angeles

Petrale Sole resembled the East Coast flounder of my youth, with thin, lightly crusted fillets, served over simple summer squash and Romano beans.

Dessert Los Angeles

For our Third Course, we received two plates “for the table,” including sweet-tart Market Berry Shortcake with vanilla crème fraîche and firm biscuits lined with sugar granules.

Dessert Los Angeles

Rich Mocha Truffle Tart slabs joined crunchy cashew praline and fluffy, bittersweet mousse.

Ice Cream Los Angeles

Pastry chef Shannon Swindle and the Craft team threw in a couple extras for June’s kids, including vanilla ice cream and chocolate cookies to form sandwiches, plus tiny shortbreads.

Donuts Los Angeles

One of Craft’s “Combinations” (aka composed dessert, $12) included warm, sugar-lined donut holes with tart lemon curd, blueberry preserves and a verbena sherbet quenelle.

Popcorn Los Angeles

We received ramekins of caramel corn with cashews and a hit of salt, along with branded bags of granola with pumpkin seeds and sweet-savory quality.

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.

Craft: Tom Colicchio Guides Seasonality, Warmth in Century City

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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