Lamb from Grammercy TavernJohn Dory from CraftOctopus from Craftbar

Craft Restaurants

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
November 8, 2005

Gramercy Tavern is one of my favorite restaurants, and I don’t mean that in the general sense of the phrase. It’s definitely on my top-five list, and that’s because it’s one of those restaurants in New York City that really gets it: The restaurant is large and feels grand, but in a comfortable not stuffy way; you can entertain clients with a classic dining experience in the back dining room or just go for a casual meal in the front tavern; and the food is excellent and the service always attentive.

Tom Colicchio is the chef and co-owner (along with Danny Meyer) of Gramercy Tavern*. In addition to this eleven-year-old New York favorite Tom has nurtured his own family of Craft restaurants: Craft, Craftbar, Craftsteak and ’wichcraft. Not only is he well known in New York, but he’s now also attracting attention across the country with Craftsteak and ’wichcraft in Las Vegas, and as consulting chef at Voysey’s on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

I have become a fervent fan of ’wichcraft since the recent opening of the Tribeca store and must order lunch there at least once a week. Naturally, the diversity of Tom’s restaurants — ranging from a modern-day haute tavern to a gourmet sandwich shop, and yet each with the same winning formula — piqued my interest, and so I wanted to learn more about the man behind all this.

My findings were not a huge surprise. The success Tom Colicchio has achieved is attributable not only to his excellence as a chef, but also to his passion in life, his business acumen, and his ability to lead and mentor the people who work with him.

This feature is a tribute to Tom as chef-mentor and honors his team of young and talented executive chefs at the five New York restaurants (Craftsteak, a fifth, will be opening in Chelsea in Spring 2006): John Schaefer (Gramercy Tavern)*, Damon Wise (Craft), Christopher Albrecht (Craftsteak)*, Akhtar Nawab (Craftbar),* and Sisha Ortúzar (’wichcraft).

Note: The craving dish for each restaurant is a reference for the style of food the restaurant serves. The menu at each restaurant changes depending on what is in season.

* Since publication of this feature, Akhtar Nawab is no longer at Craftbar — February 2006.

* Since publication of this feature, Tom Colicchio has ended his 12-year partnership with Danny Meyer at Gramercy Tavern (Tom has sold his shares of the restaurant to Danny), and is focusing on his Craft-branded restaurants — August 2006.

* Since publication of this feature, John Schaefer is no longer at Gramery Tavern — September 2006.

* Since publication of this feature, Christopher Albrecht is no longer at Craftsteak — January 2007.

Craft Restaurants

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
November 8, 2005

Maine Crabmeat from Grammercy Tavern


w/ sweet pea purée, bacon and pink peppercorns

This is one of those dishes that I taste and my jaw drops in amazement and I am reminded of why I love Gramercy Tavern. The crabmeat is cooked in beure blanc and is tender beyond belief; and the base purée just exudes the wholesome good
taste — indeed, the very essence — of the sweet peas. Let’s not forget the importance of bacon, especially when it’s cooked to a perfect crisp. The flavor and crunchiness add a counterpoint to both the taste and the texture of the dish. The peppercorns, though small, have a strong kick to make their presence in the dish pleasantly discernible. Bits of chives and diced tomato, though barely noticeable in their supporting roles, do a good job keeping the combination tasting all the way from fresh to super sublime — and all that’s happening in my mouth. Can I lick the plate?!

Craft Restaurants

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
November 8, 2005

sweetbreads at craft


tamarind glazed, w/ onion soubise & purslane

Sweetbreads aren’t for everyone, but I have to admit I love them. They’re extremely rich and if they’re not prepared properly their texture will turn most people off. At Craft, you have the option of ordering them as either a first or a main course, so if you’re watching your cholesterol you can just indulge a little and not deprive yourself entirely. This dish is really well balanced, as the sweetbreads are tender on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside, and the tamarind glaze complements as a nice seasoning that is not overpowering. The onion soubise is a delicate and flavorful purée steamed along with Aborio rice, and these pair perfectly as a light, refreshing antidote to the richness of the sweetbreads. Purslane is used as garnish and I love the gooey texture it has when you bite into it. The rooty taste adds yet another dimension to complete this dish and make it brilliant.

Craft Restaurants

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
November 8, 2005

scallops from craftbar


w/ fresh black-eyed peas,
sunchoke purée

I often wish there were another adjective that I could use in place of tender, but I don’t think there is as good a substitute to describe this perfect texture for food. While I’m usually not a fan of cooked scallops, this dish at Craftbar really surprised me. The scallops are "tender" and perfectly in balance with the sunchoke (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichoke) purée, which is creamy and potato-like but lighter and fluffier. The black-eyed peas are so fresh and a delicious mix with the accompanying diced carrots and radishes. This is a feel-good dish, meaning that after you eat it you feel satisfied yet light at the same time, so there is no guilt involved, only pleasure at having found such a delightful course.

Craft Restaurants

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
November 8, 2005

Grilled fontina breakfast sandwich from 'wichcraft


black trumpet mushrooms & white truffle fondue on
Pullman white bread

If you are ordering online from ’wichcraft’s website, you’ll be well advised to search for this sophisticated version of a grilled cheese in the breakfast sandwiches section, even though this is something I crave any time of day, be it 9am or 4pm. I’m not sure I need to elaborate on the description above. Use your imagination: black trumpet mushrooms and white truffle fondue. Oh dear! This in every way is a superior grilled cheese sandwich that needed to be invented and thank god ’ wichcraft did the deed! The smell of truffles and fontina will linger not only around you at your table, but also in your mind for weeks to come. Yes, this grilled fontina was meant to be craved.

Craft Restaurants

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
November 8, 2005

Grammercy Tavern

42 E 20th St
(Broadway & Park Ave S)
New York, NY 10003

craft restaurant

43 E 19th St
(Broadway & Park Ave S)
New York, NY 10003

craftbar restaurant

900 Broadway
(19th & 20th St)
New York, NY 10003


224 12th Ave
(27th & 28th Sts)
New York, NY 10001

397 Greenwich St
@ Beach St
New York, NY 10013

Bryant Park
Four kiosks located on the 6th Ave side
(40th & 42nd Sts)
New York, NY 10018

Check the ’wichcraft website for additional locations and hours.

‘wichcraft has a great online ordering system that makes placing orders fast and easy. Check out the ’wichcraft website to see if you are within one of the delivery zones. Or call 212-780-0577 for all locations.

name (required)

email (required, will not be published)




Sign up to receive the Cravings newsletter!

Wine Features

The Wine of Paris

Island Whites (Part II)

Island Whites (Part I)

South African Diversity

Surprise, Surprise! Bordeaux is Really Very Good

Burgundy Joy

New Year’s Bubblies for a Splurge and Splash


My Weekend from Wall Street to South Beach

Vérité: French Roots in California Soil

A Spirit for the Ages

Ultimate Lurton

Vinexpo, the Asian Rendition

It’s Never Too Early to Think About Father’s Day… Especially if He’s Keen on Scotch

Gin from the Past

The Beauty of a Sommelier

March of the Carnivores

Discovering Mexican Wine

A Feast in the Hills above Las Vegas

Oregon: Wines on the Frontier

Not What We Expected, Per Se

Cru Beaujolais at Union Square Cafe

Beaujolais Retailers

Beaujolais with a Backbone

Summer Cocktails?

What is Bubbling in Champagne?

Tight Little Island: Islay Scotch

French Wine Finds

Alto Adige

Back to Restaurant Season in Paris

Cyn's Favorite Champagnes in 2006

Sparkles Everywhere

Discovering Jura Gems

A Taste of North Fork

Milou en mai: My Month of May

Parisian Bistrots à Vin

A Wine Story About Bees (Buzzed by Older Wines)

Gaia: Deconstructing a Wine List

Robert Pepi Makes New Waves Under the Eponymous Label

Holiday Toasting!

Parker on Champagne: What's in a Vintage?

Pascale Rousseau

Ed McCarthy

Terry Theise

Sean Crowley

The World of Champagne Seen from the Inside Out

Lieb Cellars - Recipe 2

Lieb Cellars - Recipe 1

Lieb Cellars - Retailers

Family Cellars' Pinot Blanc: Flat or Fizz?

Rosé - Related Websites

Cyn's Rosé Recs - Retailer

Cyn's Rosé Recs - By The Glass

Jancis Robinson, Rosé & I

Pearl - Champagne

Danube - Grüner Veltliner

Esca - Bellini

Prune - Bloody Mary

iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

Sur La Table_Brand_120X90


Save Ten on Angie's List!

Alessi S.P.A. US