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Note: Click here for a more recent review of Craftsteak.

So many new steakhouses, so little time. That’s the feeling I have these days, with high-profile steakhouses opening almost weekly. Craftsteak is special, being a creation of the sainted Tom Colicchio (Gramercy Tavern, Craft, Craftbar, Craftsteak Las Vegas, etc.).

The space is comfortable and gorgeous. My friend was distracted all evening by a spectacular mural of the Chelsea landscape that takes up the whole back wall. You never thought Chelsea looked so good! I was, on the other hand, distracted by the floor-to-ceiling wine cellar that separates the dining room from the bar, where there is ample seating for the casual visitor.

The menu has undergone some refinement from earlier versions posted on the net. On a Saturday night in May, the Wagyu tasting menus, which had ranged anywhere from $115-165 per person, were no longer on offer. Gone too was the prime rib, which had carried a price tag of anywhere from $180-240. I suspect the whole lobe of foie gras ($160) may be an endangered spiecies. Our server said that it has been ordered only twice.

A normal order of foie gras is $20. Our server was not informed as to how it was prepared. “I don’t know…it changes daily” was all he could say, but he felt sure it came with toast points. Turns out it didn’t. It was still a portion of seared foie gras ample enough to be shared (as we had expected), and sinfully good, but the server ought to know what’s coming.

A ribeye for two ($72) struck us as way under-sized. This does not seem to be a problem for the restaurant generally. A glance at other tables showed that most steaks were enormous. But this ribeye seemed only slightly larger than the typical steak for one. It yielded just nine small slices of beef. Luckily, we are not huge eaters, but I suspect others would have been disappointed. (On a subsequent visit, my friend ordered a ribeye for one that was not much smaller than the ribeye for two that we had shared.)

One could find no fault with the beef itself, which was perfectly marbled and expertly cooked. We noted that it was grilled, rather than broiled, and did not have the exterior char that many steakhouses provide. It came with a bone on the side filled with gooey marrow. To top it off, we ordered the English Pea and Morel risotto ($22), which was superb.

Aside from the foie gras confusion, service was just fine. The amuse bouche was tasty, although I’ve forgotten what was in it. The bread, which came hot out of the oven, in its own cast-iron pan, was irresistible.

Craftsteak (85 10th Avenue at 15th Street, Far West Chelsea)

Food: **
Service: *½
Ambiance: **
Overall: **

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