Eating on the Fly: New York City

Our weekly contributor dines in her former home

With so many dining options in one place, rest can wait.

Last weekend, I woke up in the city that never sleeps (also my former home of 10 years). After being gone for three years, I still never get a good night’s sleep, especially with my flying schedule. Sleep or no sleep, I still manage to get good meals in each city I visit. New York is no exception.

Although I have some tried-and-true favorites, and I am pretty proud of my New York City eating history, there are a few venues that linger on my "to do list." Tom Colicchio’s Craft has been on there for quite some time.

My friend and I started out at The Headless Horseman on East 15th Street before our 6:30 p.m. dinner reservation at Craft. Two magic words lured us in: Happy Hour.  She enjoyed a $5 Cosmo and I tried a $5 River Horse Tripel Horse, which is a 10 percent ABV beer brewed in New Jersey. The Headless Horseman is a cozy venue with wood plank ceilings and candle light. It wasn’t very busy for a Saturday happy hour, and I was pleased with the prequel to our dinner.

From the moment we walked in the door, I knew Craft would be an illustrious dining experience. I had been towing my suitcase around all day, and the maître d' graciously whisked it away and gave me a tag. My friend and I were shown to a table in the middle of the vast dining room. Though there was a full house, the ambiance was comfortable and it was easy to have a conversation without much competing background noise.

The server explained that they very purposefully do not put a lot of description on their menu, as questions and further explanation from the waitstaff are encouraged. My friend started with "19th on Fab," a cocktail including tequila, passion fruit, fresh lime, and jalapeño. It was refreshing and had a good bite. I opted for the "Black Widow:" bourbon, Averna amaro, aperol, and black walnut bitters. Exquisite and smooth, it went down quite easily. 

We agreed to share two first-course dishes, two entrées and two side dishes. We started with the sweetbreads and Jerusalem artichokes, and also the crispy bacon.  Both appetizer choices were extremely satisfying to the palate, especially the bacon.  The juicy cuts must have been 3 inches thick and the flavor permeated my mouth and made me wish I could close my eyes and re-live this experience for the rest of my life. 

For dinner we opted for the braised beef shortribs and the rabbit loin. They were both satisfying, but the real stars were the sides: celery root purée and bone marrow. Bone marrow was not listed as a choice, but I asked the server about it, since one of my other friends had raved about Craft’s bone marrow on a previous dining experience. The server gladly found a way to add the bone marrow on as a side dish, and we were on our way to food nirvana. 

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As if all of these rich foods didn’t fill us up enough, we still figured out a way to find room for dessert. We chose the pineapple tarte tatin, served with candied coconut and rum-vanilla ice cream. For our second choice, we picked the chocolate pot de crème with gooseberries, cacao nib, and chocolate sorbet.  After they boxed up all of our leftovers (we had a lot!), we made our way to the front of the restaurant. As a parting gift, we were given chocolate banana muffins for breakfast the next morning.  I ate mine in the cab on the way home. Consistent with the rest of our meal, it was extremely fulfilling and delectable. Tom Colicchio didn’t let us down at his flagship restaurant. With my belly full and my palate pleased, I think I just may get a good night’s sleep in the city that typically fails to do so.