Our first visit to craftbar was so outstanding that my boyfriend and I decided a couple of weeks later to visit for his birthday to try more of the menu. We had opted for the large charcuterie plate to start the first time around and regretted not getting to taste more appetizers, so this time, we went for three starters:
Pecorino fondue with acacia honey and hazelnuts
The “fondue” wasn’t liquid by the time it got to our table, but the sweetness of the honey was a treat, and the hazelnuts were hugely complimentary.
Pecorino-stuffed risotto balls
The risotto balls seemed like they’d be easy on the palate, but once we got past the super-crunchy skin, the risotto and cheese mixture had an almost sour taste that verged on unpleasant, which actually made them more pleasant. Foods that challenge our palates excite us, so this was a favourite of the night.
Polenta fritters with jalapeños
The polenta fritters had the same consistency as the risotto balls and seemed like maybe too similar a dish at first, but the jalapeño and tartar-sauce-like topping made it wildly different and delicious.
Veal ricotta meatballs
I heard our waitress tell the table next to us that the meatballs are what they’re known for, so I was especially excited about my dish and therefore especially disappointed when it didn’t blow my mind. The sauce was freshly homemade but tasted bland; I’m a spice freak and therefore biased, but still. The meatballs were juicy but overpowered by the herbs on top. Luckily, the pasta was goooooood. It was a $5 supplement, but my boyfriend had encouraged me to go for it, and I’m glad he did. The orecchiette was textured in a way that gave them a density and authenticity that store-bought pasta could never compete with. By the time I was finished with the dish, I had grown to like it much more, but I don’t think meatballs should be an acquired taste.
Black Angus hanger steak, baby shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, and potato purée
My boyfriend loves a hanger steak, but this dish didn’t wow either of us. The highlight was the potatoes, which were creamy and benefited from the jus surrounding them, but we’ll probably stick to ordering steak at steakhouses.
Olive Oil Cake with black mission figs, rosemary ice cream, and pine nuts
The only reason I ordered the olive oil cake is that people who Google search it often end up here. I have no idea why, and I honestly would’ve never, ever ordered the cake if I didn’t want to have something to offer readers who are interested in it. And I guess the reader knows best, because it turned out to be probably the most surprisingly delicious dessert I’ve ever had. I was surprised at how much I liked the concord grape granita last time, but grape is an inherently lovable flavor for me, while I actually dislike olives and don’t think olive oil is that much better. Olive oil cake is an entirely different story, though. It’s basically a yellow cake muffin with olive oil soaked through the skin, enough to make the inside moist but not enough to push the dessert into savory territory.
The real star, though, is that rosemary ice cream. It was such a perfect compliment to the cake that I actually can’t form words to describe how good the two were together. Even the pine nuts, which I don’t generally think are anything special, were entirely necessary to the dish. I would order this again and again and again.
Warm brownie with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and banana ice cream
I’m nothing if not a chocolate person, but next to my olive oil cake, my boyfriend’s brownie just didn’t compare. We had decided to switch desserts in the event I didn’t like mine, but I didn’t even want to once I tasted it. The brownie was soft and chewy and all that, but it hurt too much to watch someone else eating my cake.
I’m glad we tried new dishes this time, but clearly we picked the main course that suited us best last time. Next time, I’ll know that my perfect meal is the risotto balls, the pork belly, and the olive oil cake. I’m making my boyfriend order the grape granita, though, and I’m going to hog the whole thing.