À La Carte À Gogo 

Made-to-order meals at Craft

Wednesday, Jul 25 2007

When the original Craft opened in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood, it was a fantasy restaurant, put together by a man, Gramercy Tavern chef Tom Colicchio, who actually called his cookbook Think Like a Chef, a place where customers were invited to construct their meals from scratch, or rather from gleaming copper pots of prepared meats, sauces, starches and vegetables all ordered à la carte. An early dinner at Craft sometimes seemed more like a mise en place than like a meal. After a while, the conceit of infinite customization was dropped, and diners at Craft were able to order more or less as they did at any other restaurant. But the original idea of Craft seems like a perfect fit for Hollywood, where no entertainment professional worth his 10 percent will ever settle for ordering directly off any menu — and where, thanks to his role on Top Chef, Colicchio is an actual name. At the new Craft in Century City, in a handsome neo-Neutra space a few yards from both ICM and CAA, it is a veritable festival of à la carte à gogo: expensive, high-quality slabs of wagyu beef, local sea bass wrapped in prosciutto and served with grapes, roast Heritage pork laminated with sorrel leaves, and braised Alaskan sablefish that you are invited to pair with sautéed long beans or baby turnips, creamed Tuscan kale or smoky, beautifully roasted wild mushrooms, braised peewee potatoes or shrimp risotto. By the time you have crowded your table with all the side dishes you want to taste and ordered a modest wine, you have probably spent $100 a person — and bumped into the likes of James Caan, S. Irene Virbila, Suzanne Tracht and Mayor Villaraigosa, to name just a few of the people crowded into the restaurant on a Thursday night. 10100 Constellation Blvd., Century City, (310) 279-4180.

—Jonathan Gold

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