As a self-proclaimed “foodie” and blogger, I’m always on the look out for new local restaurants to experience. That being said, I had my eye on Craft House Kitchen & Bar since BoozyBurbs posted an article listing it as an honorable mention on their “Top Anticipated Restaurants of 2015” list in late December. After finding out that Rocca chef Craig Levy was the mastermind behind the farm to table gastropub, I knew I had to carve a night out, and a space in my tummy, for this experience.
On a blisteringly cold Friday night, I made my way to over to the “Towne House” with high expectations and a little bit of a cold. Upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly hostess and to my surprise, seated immediately, at a 2 top near the kitchen. And then like clockwork, my usual dissection begins.
I analyze everything… from the parking lot to a peek in the kitchen, the noise, the smell, the staff’s attire… my first experience in a restaurant is always more than just about taste. The dining room has a cozy, comfortable feel, with good ambiance and clean bold lines. To my surprise, Craft House is bigger than it looks on the outside, which could also be credited to a great floor layout. That being said, I am typically not one for having a 2 top so close to the kitchen, but, we were not in direct eyeshot of anything and server traffic was not distracting. As we were seated and handed menus, our server came over for a timely and pleasant introduction which included recitation of a number of enticing specials. First impressions, thumbs up.
Since I was under the weather, I presumptuously decided to avoid indulging in anything alcoholic, glancing at the exquisite list of cocktails before making a mental note to return for a dirty martini made with my favorite: Ketel One and bleu cheese stuffed olives. As a studying sommelier, I of course pondered over the wine list, a great variety with a number of staple crowd pleasers. A splendid mix of offerings at great price points.
Before ordering I ALWAYS ask the server what their favorite thing on the menu is or what they would recommend. This is one of my tests to see how knowledgeable and honest the server is, and usually how I help narrow down my menu choices. The server recommended creamy kale and artichoke dip served with tortilla chips as an appetizer… so we went with that. I also chose the soup sampler which consisted of one small cup of tomato soup topped with a delicate square of grilled cheese (one of my favorite combos EVER) and a second small cup of onion soup made with amber beer and topped with a small slice of gruyere toast. The portions seemed small at first but for two people it was just enough.
Because I’m a sucker for anything with short ribs, I was immediately sold on the short rib sliders with maytag bleu cheese, onion jam, and bacon aioli for dinner. And once I mentioned short ribs, my dinner guest had to try the short rib grilled cheese, which was served with caramelized onions and fontina on hearty wheat toast. We also both opted for sides of truffle frites sprinkled with grana cheese because ….truffle everything.. that’s why.
Our second course came perfectly timed, and without second guess, we began indulging. Everything was superb and I was totally licking my fingers. It was then that I became very appreciative of the dim lighting and butcher paper placed neatly on each table. Besides being a messy eater, I am first a lover of detail. From the ambiance, to the presentation of the food, to the tiny Craft House logo adorned on my corner of table, everything was done with cleverness and a purpose.
Since I was not drinking calories this evening, I decided dessert was a must, even though we were pleasingly full. I quickly retracted that theory as we chose the Keegan’s Mother’s Milk s’more shake. Made with, you guessed it, Keegan’s Mother’s milk and vanilla bean ice cream. The shake was served in a glass rimmed on the inside with chocolate syrup, and garnished with graham cracker crunch and roasted marshmallow. Instagram worthy!
From start to finish everything we ate was perfectly satisfying. Having said that, the service did not take a back seat in the slightest. As someone who has managed restaurants and been in the industry for quite some time, I pick up on EVERYTHING. I always think about the worst customers I’ve had to deal with and every complaint they’ve had and run through these thoughts as I’m reviewing. My experience at Craft House was impressive and I actually found myself saying out loud throughout dinner “the service is so good, the service is so good”. Some little things that I give brownie points for they hit – like putting a plate under a utensil when bringing it to the table and walking calmly through the dining room even if you are really busy. I always think about each piece of the customer experience so I was appreciative of this.
If I had to give Craft House a grade, I would give it an A+. I had not had a meal I was so pleased with from start to finish in quite some time. You have definitely made me a fan, and I have plans to come back soon for one of those dirty martinis!
Craft House Kitchen & Bar
150 Lafayette Avenue, Suffern, NY 10901
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 11:30am-10pm, Thursday 11:30am-12am, Friday-Saturday 11:30am-1am; Sunday 11:30am-9pm
Take Reservations: Yes
Valet Parking: Yes
Food: Farm to Table, Offer Vegetarian, Vegan & Gluten-Free Options
Full Bar, Wine List