A few weeks ago, Buckhead Restaurant Week kicked off and offered 3-course meals for $25 at a number of swank Buckhead eateries. Coincidentally, Mario’s birthday weekend fell during the same time, so I decided to make a surprise reservation at Craftbar Atlanta. Craftbar is part of Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio’s (hm, he doesn’t have his own website) restaurant group, which includes Craft, Craftbar, Craftsteak and ‘wichcraft.
The Craftbar Restaurant Week menu was quite extensive, so it was tough to decide what to try. For starters, Mario settled on the sweet potato soup with mascarpone and bbq’d pecans, and I had the glazed pork belly with jalapeño grits:
The sweet potato soup was super smooth and creamy with a nice cinnamon-y flavor. The mascarpone cheese, which I think was placed in the center of the bowl and then had soup poured around it (it was kind of “hidden” in the center of the bowl), provided a really light and airy contrast to the rich soup. I kept sneaking spoonfuls from Mario’s bowl. As an odd suggestion, I think I would have changed the pecan garnish for crumbled bacon. I think the saltiness would have gone well with the sweetness of the soup. My pork belly was, as expected, delicious and melt-in-your-mouth tender. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed the jalapeño grits, which were not spicy at all but rather just had the flavor of a jalapeño pepper. I was a little disappointed that the marrow Live to Feast tasted was not on the Restaurant Week menu (although he visited the big daddy, Craft, the marrow is on Craftbar’s regular menu as well), but I was still really happy with our choices.
For entrees, we tried the lamb tenderloin with greens, chorizo, mushrooms, and [more] grits, and the Craftbar burger:
Unfortunately for my lamb tenderloin, the sides were the stars of the dish. I thought the meat was well cooked, but underseasoned. The greens were really fabulous, something like the braised greens I had at Legal Sea Foods a while back and have been trying to recreate since (though when I asked a member of the wait-staff, she said they were just sautéed). I also really liked how the crispy, spicy chorizo complemented the creamy grits (not jalapeño this time, but I can’t remember if they were flavored). Predictably, Mario went for the Craftbar burger, which he now thinks may have outranked both Bocado and H+F on his delicious burger scale. The fries that came with the burger tasted like they had actually been sugared and salted, which made for an interesting flavor. Pretty good.
The dessert choices were a little uninspired in my opinion. Mario had an apple tart, and I had some sort of chocolate cake with ice cream:
I really don’t have anything to say about dessert. I’m fairly confident that if a Top Chef contestant had served either one of these, Colicchio+Co. would have deemed it unacceptable and banished them to the bottom group. Both were ok, but nothing special.
Although there were a few misses, our dinner at Craftbar mostly consisted of hits. The ambiance was dark and cozy, but started to get a little noisy as the night wore on because there were a few large groups seated in our vicinity. Arguably the best part of the night was the fact that our waiter brought over 2 $10 gift certificates for us to make a return visit for lunch. Score! Who wants to join me?