Sunday, May 27, 2007


Saturday night, flush from another payday come and gone, Matt & I decided to go out to dinner. We arrived at Craftsman early, about six, to avoid any dinner rush. The place was nearly empty, but the hostess asked if we minded sitting outside. Their patio is gorgeous, but this is May in Minnesota. It was just too cold to enjoy. It's a lovely atmosphere, though. This would be a great patio to visit in the warmer months, where the shade would be a welcome reprieve from the sun. We decided to sit at the bar and ordered our drinks. I tried one of their specialty martinis, the rhubarb martini. It's made with a simple syrup with rhubarb and shaker's vodka. It was heavenly sweet with just a little bright tartness and icy, icy cold. I shivered, but sucked it down just the same.

The staff was open and friendly and sitting here at the bar we could see the open kitchen. The chefs looked like a bunch of fiends that were ridden hard and put away wet. The one I'm sure hasn't slept in about a week. The looked like the sort of chef I imagine Anthony Bourdain glorifies in his Kitchen Continental. I liked the look of 'em, but would trust them to babysit anything beyond a buerre blanc.

We'd been here a few times before and I can't get past how perfect the room is. The lighting is always soft, the chairs are comfortable and the sleek Craftsman architechture is beautiful. The problem is that if you don't order one of the burgers, your meal might be in jeopardy. While it's true that their turkey burger is the best I've ever had, the rest of the menu can't be a little unpredictable.

We started with the potato pizza, this slices of new potatoes on a crispy grilled crust topped with drizzles of neon chive oil, earthy goat cheese and gooey mozzerella. I took one bite and gasped - I want this for breakfast! It was a crusty version of potatoes Anna. It was just delicious. I carefully nibbled, trying to save some appetite for the main course, but damn this sucker was tasty. Okay, perhaps I was wrong to be so apprehensive. Just look at this room! It's the perfect restaurant! Every note is plucked together forming a lovely dining mosaic.

For dinner we had ordered the house made whole wheat fettuccine with lamb sausage and wilted arugula. While waiting I asked the bartender to suggest a wine to compliment the food (he'd just rhapsodized the "aggressively hoppy" beer Matt was sipping - steam brewed! That I figured he might know a thing or three about the beverages.) He basically said any of the wines would go great. Undaunted, I ordered a glass of the most expensive glass on the list. The bottle was low and I got the rest. It wasn't quite a full pour, but that was all my $10 was going to buy me. Okay, that'll do boy. That'll do. (The wine was really good, and now I don't remember what the heck it was. Helpful, I know.)

Our entree was a let down after the pizza. Not much could have topped that, anyway. The creamy sauce was bland for an assertive bite of nutmeg. The lamb wasn't made into sausage, but slow braised. There was barely any in there, but what there was, was delicious. The fettuccine was just a bit over cooked and sticking together. It was okay, but not outstanding.

I know that I'll certainly be headed back to Craftsman. Maybe, some sunny day I'll head back, with a reservation and a seat out on the patio. I'll happily munch away on my burger, guzzling a martini and gasp, "This place is perfect!"


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