Craft and the Shake Shack  JUL 30 2004

Meg and I went to Craft earlier this week. The restaurant's schtick is to present fresh food as simply as possible. The heirloom tomatoes were sliced, salted, peppered, and placed on a white dish with a wee bit of basil. The wild salmon came with a few onions, making it the most accented dish of the evening. The striped bass was served braised in its own juices with a couple of carrots. Plain sautéed hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. The lamb shank was served alone in its own juices, still in the container it was cooked in. Green beans, unbuttered. Mashed potatoes, lightly buttered. Cinnamon and chocolate donuts on a simple white plate. A single slice of brioche pain perdu with small pitchers of caramel and chocolate to flavor it. I enjoyed the no-nonsense presentation, but the tastes were a little too spare for my, um, taste. Verdict: The food was great, the novelty of the preparation was fun, but I don't think I'd go again.

The next day, we checked out Danny Meyer's new Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, located at the opposite end of the NYC food spectrum from Craft. We each had a Shack Burger with fries and shared a chocolate shake. The food came in a box and the burgers in little bags, reminding me of In-N-Out Burger. The fries were way too crispy, but the burger was one of the best I've had in NYC. (Good burgers are one of the few things I miss from California. Not that good hamburgers can't be found in NYC, but it's just not a hamburger town.) I'm looking forward to trying the Chicago-style hot dog (Nathan's aside, give me a Vienna Beef dog any day of the week over a NYC dog) and the frozen custard on my next visit.

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