8826 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310. 276-1900

It’s not often that a restaurant can open its unfinished doors (they are beautifully completed now) and become packed from that very moment; but then again, Craig’s is atypical restaurant fare. What a transformation from its predecessor on this always hip portion of Melrose that crosses Robertson. Now a New York-style neighborhood haunt with a clubby atmosphere, it’s warm and inviting.

Ubiquitous wood paneling and used brick walls sourround table clothed comfy green leather booths. Gone are the fish-bowl windows, rendering a feel as if you’ve traveled down to an old speak easy. Craig will greet you as you walk through the door (glance over his shoulder to see his Bar Mitzvah picture sporting a hairdoo ripped off by Justin Bieber). The art is eclectic, complete with New York street scenes, political humor and cows.
Owner Craig Susser has been around the block before; in fact, he has been literally around the corner at Dan Tana’s forever, and he’s finally working his magic for himself. Don’t expect the typical West Hollywood glitterati at Craig’s (although there are a few) since at the moment the old Dan Tana’s crowd is more likely your parents and their friends, but don’t let that dissuade you because once this catches on with the WEHO set, you won’t be able to get near the place.

Let’s talk food: from day one service and food has been close to flawless. Craig has trained a troupe of waitstaff who know what they’re doing, and know how to do it with a smile. What a concept. Take Amy, our hottie waitress with a big smile, a big personality, and who didn’t seem to be practicing her sides for her next audtion. She gave us great service. The guys who backed her knew how to unobtrusively deliver and clean, and we never heard, “who had the…”. Unlike its previous incarnation, they rushed over a basket full of fabulously fresh and delicious bread before we even started.
Michael is the Shrimp Cocktail ($16) maven and was not disappointed with this one. Despite the oxymoron, the shrimp were huge, and the cocktail sauce was amongst the best and interesting we’ve experienced, delivering a combo of red sauce and horseradish. It left a pungent and delightful bite, and after you’ve devoured the shrimp, it was fabulous on the fries during dinner. 
Scott loves starting with their delicious pizza, which is a delicious alternative to the bread basket, if you must ease your guilt for indulging.

We always visit a restaurant three times, and each time was equally enjoyable, while the entrees measured up as well. We’re fans of two of the entrees. The standout is the Meldman’s Honey Truffle Chicken ( $27), lightly fried with truffle infused honey.
The chicken was moist and the dish so unique and flavorful that we savored every bite. For meat lovers, the Roquefort Crusted Filet (grass fed, thank you Craig) over scrumptious blue cheese ravioli ($42), arrived perfectly at the ordered medium rare.
The sides are worth gorging on as well. The hand-cut french fries were yummy, not too salty, crisp and enough for a table of four. We loved the creamed corn, which unlike other venues that deliver a dish full of slop and mush, tasted like it was just cut off the cob and melded perfectly with innocent amounts of cream.
After all of this scrumptious food, who in the world had room for dessert? Scott, all three times (don’t tell his trainer, Ken). The standout was the delectible chocolate chip bread pudding ($12), a warm, decadent mix of choclate, cream, bread and a sauce Anglaise. Okay, start with this, work your way through the bread basket, order a bottle of wine and be happy.
Reservations are mandatory at this new thriving hot spot or you’ll wait to get seated. The full bar is crowded with neighborhood folks, and the secret is so out that perhaps that’s why the volume is a tad too loud at times. That said, pass the honey chicken and life is good.

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Post Script:  We have received emails from readers over the years wondering why we rave about most everything we write.  We like to think of ourselves as "friendly reviewers", for the most part bringing you exciting high-end hotels and restaurants that you would really like to visit and enjoy; not trashing restuarants or lodgings for the pleasure of it.   We would rather just skip those not worthy, that is, unless they really earn it!

We hope you will enjoy the many great restaurants and hotels that we've enjoyed throughout the years. 

Appetizingly yours,

Michael and Scott
The Dining Duo

Posted by The Dining Duo | 5:27 PM | , , , , | 0 comments »

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