Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Speaking of Tom Colicchio...

As angry as I am at Colicchio for a really disappointing season of Top Chef, you've got to hand it to him: The guy can cook.

And he's smart.

Like everybody else, Colicchio has realized that the culinary world is writhing and he simply won't make the kind of scratch he was making a year ago. Hence he has started two new venues -- out of existing venues. (To actually open a restaurant right now seems like suicide.)

Craft is doing "Frugal Fridays" in which Colicchio's chef, Damon Wise, is putting out small $10 plates. No reservations, and only at the bar. (I hear it's very good.)

Likewise, Colicchio's insanely overpriced steakhouse, Craftsteak, has turned the front of the restaurant into a little inoteca (like next door's Del Posto) called Halfsteak, in which everything on the menu is under $15.

I've been to Halfsteak twice in the past two weeks -- and it's great! (Mostly.)

There were a few disappointments. I went with my good friend Noah two weeks ago and he had a brisket sandwich which neither of us was all that impressed with.

Likewise, last week I tried one of the one pot dishes, a gnocchi with meatballs, which was not very good. The gnocchi itself was fine (although, for my money, Queen's gnocchi is much better.) And the meatballs weren't bad. (But, again, Frankie's 457 meatballs are better.) But the sauce was a generic red sauce that didn't taste any better than something you could get out of a can. (Sorry Tom, but it's the truth.)

That being said, Noah and I had some truly outrageous slider appetizers. They were finished with a balsalmic reduction and dusted with cheese -- and they might have been the tastiest burgers I have ever had. Ever.

When I went back with a beautiful and schlubby companion last week, we ordered the chicken wings with white barbecue sauce.

"Not bad," I said as I bit into one.

"Not bad?" she said, looking at me as if I was crazy.

"Better than that..."

"They're fucking great!" my friend practically shouted.

My friend had a steak which she also thought was delicious (although, quite honestly, I preferred the fries, which were really crisp and wonderful).

With drinks and dessert, neither experience cost more than $35 per person.

Nice job, Tom. Now, if you can only get your shit together for the next season of Top Chef...


Also, I guess this will be FSTS's unofficial Top Chef week. A couple of weeks ago I visited Leah Cohen's restaurant with some friends. I plan on blogging about it tomorrow.