I love to go out to dinner. We used to go out quite a bit more than we do now (could it be the economy???). I think I now go out to dress up (and wear great shoes!) and not have to clean up the dishes. We are finding that the food at home is better than most of the restaurants in town (per my husband), but a girl needs a break from the kitchen sometimes!
I find that it is really difficult to choose a restaurant in the Atlanta area because so many of them are preparing the same type of cuisine – fussed up Southern! This has been a trend for several years now and more places seem to keep jumping on the bandwagon. (How many ways can one prepare grits??). Now I do enjoy several restaurants that serve this type of cuisine, but sometimes you just want something else.
So, a few weeks ago I tried to get a reservation at several new spots (Bistro Niko, French Bistro cuisine and La Pietra Cucina, a great new Italian restaurant). With no luck at either of those, I called Craftbar and pretty much had a selection of times for a reservation (which concerned me). I had been wanting to try it as well, so Craftbar it was going to be.
Craftbar is Craft’s more casual restaurant which was opened by Tom Colicchio (Chef and owner) of the other 2 restaurants with the same name in LA and NYC. It is housed in a separate building in front of the Mansion on Peachtree (which incidentally had no lights on upstairs). Is anyone staying or living there?? Anyway, we were promptly greeted by the valet staff as well as the restaurant staff. We did note that it was terribly quiet for a Saturday night.
My husband had their famous burger and fries ($16.00). It was slathered with cheese, bacon and tomato jam. It was huge! He said it was good, but rich and he was not crazy about the tomato jam. We shared a delightful beet salad with a colorful selection of beets dressed lightly with a vinaigrette and topped with blue cheese. I ordered the hanger steak. I was assured that their special preparation of this cut of beef would be tender. It was not tenderloin (and was not expected to be so), but was reasonably tender at medium rare. The beef was accompanied by a selection of roasted root veggies, potato puree and unfortunately a way over salted bordelaise sauce that engulfed the entire plate. Somebody needs to lay off the salt in the kitchen!
The most confusing thing about the place was the wine prices! My entrée was $24.00, which was one of the highest priced dishes. They offered several glasses of wine that were as much as the meals. You have to be careful when looking at their pricing by the glass. They offer 3 oz. tastings and regular glasses at 6 oz. I think my glass of red wine ended up at $16.00 (a Malbec). My martini before dinner was $13.00 (which was a normal price for an upscale spot). However, I think there needs to be some adjustment to the wine list so that the price of wines by the glass are in line with the price of the meals (many of which are in the mid-teens to low twenties).
We thought the prices were not in line for the quality of the food or the caliber of the wine at their casual dining option. I will say that it was quiet, we had a nice seat by the window looking onto Peachtree and the service was decent. Is there enough to make us want to go back? Probably not. It is a shame since the dishes were different from many of the newer spots in Atlanta (at least I did not see grits five ways or fried okra on the menu), but they need to make some changes to compete in this town. There are too many restaurants vying for customers with better food and more competitive prices.
If you are interested in reading other reviews of Craftbar, refer to the site, Urbanspoon.