The power crowd’s cafeteria at Craft
July 6, 2011
LOS ANGELES, US – Walk into any of the top LA talent agencies, and you’ll see that the goings-on are not unlike those at your average elementary school. There’s always at least one pouting kid who needs comforting (i.e. the starlet-du-jour on a tantrum), plenty of jockeying for gold stars (i.e. three-picture deals), and lots of demand for recess (i.e. three martini lunches).
So it’s no surprise that Craft–Top Chef Tom Colicchio’s New York transplant–has become a “campus” cafeteria of sorts for neighboring agent giant CAA. The suits hold court with their A-list celeb clients at lunchtime, and if the tables weren’t spread apart so generously, you’d be sure to hear all the juicy details of deals going down.
Not dissimilar to a school cafeteria, the menu is comfort food focused, and you build your meal from the a la carte choices as if you were filling your tray. But rest assured: there are absolutely no chicken nuggets or soggy green beans anywhere in sight (and certainly no trays!). These are comfort eats at their most posh, and selections change with the seasons.
You might start with the wild arugula and parmesan salad for your first course, then move on to one of the meats like the superb braised beef shortrib accompanied by an array of seasonal vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes or baby fennel. It’s fun to build and customize your own plate, but you can also take advantage of the family-style option where they’ll bring everything out in portions large enough to share (otherwise, portion sizes for a la carte dishes can sometimes be absurdly small). At dessert, you can also build your own from a selection of fresh fruits, ice creams, and cheeses. Or you can rely on deliciously prefab combinations like the rhubarb cobbler with Mexican vanilla ice cream.
Though the restaurant has more atmosphere than a school cafeteria, I must say the sterile décor could use a little zip. It goes for a contemporary “clean lines” look, but the combination of stark white walls and rounded corners gives it an airplane-esque feel (although I am partial to the exposed filament bulbs dangling overhead–cool!). The patio, on the other hand, is a leafy haven of cabanas and umbrella-ed tables–you totally forget that you’re surrounded by two high-rise towers. In fact, if you can’t score reservations or are short on cash, the cheaper bar menu is served on the patio and in the lounge.
So, where elementary school students have arts and crafts, Hollywood’s power brokers have Craft. Just be sure to reserve well in advance for a coveted table, or the cool kids may commandeer all the seats. I wouldn’t want to see any food fights break out in this mess hall.
Read more about Craft in our Los Angeles Guide.