Culinary Arts & Kraft
An eclectic bistro opens in restaurant-hungry Bronxville
Acrowd spilling from a restaurant’s door is usually a good sign, just not when there’s a no-reservations policy, and you were told you wouldn’t need one at 7:30 anyway. True, we were 30 minutes later than we expected, but this clearly was not going to be any 10-minute pause at the bar. We could hardly get to the bar.
Time to play dirty. Reveal that I’m a restaurant critic? No. March out my eight-months-pregnant dining companion? Certainly. We had barstools in seconds. Okay, our husbands had to stand, but they soon had mesmerizing cocktails in hand, and what’s a half-hour wait when the house-made potato chips are this good.
The scenery wasn’t bad either. Owners Anna Molisse and Kal Wahab, previously at nearby Underhills Crossing, have fashioned a cocoon of glazed caramel walls and intricate Moorish bronzes burnished by the honeyed glow of votives. Both owners do patrol duty, Anna hovering in backless black, Kal lording at the bar.
Vigilance is lacking, though, in bread served without butter or oil, in a vegetable bisque special doused in what I would have sworn was cider vinegar but was apparently lemon, a bland spinach citrus salad and leeks more charred than frizzled in an appetizer of otherwise expertly grilled prawns. Chef Jason Korz, late of Blue in White Plains, does better with a trio of goat cheese spheres coated, respectively, in celery seed, sesame seed and paprika, corralling a vibrant corn and roasted pepper salsa. And he’s definitely on his game with a candied walnut-
and Gorgonzola-cheese-festooned Bosc pear salad, painterly in its roseate fanned fruit and emerald arugula glossed with balsamic vinaigrette.
You don’t keep a famished pregnant woman waiting for her beef kabob, and they did. And you certainly don’t let her find basting-brush bristles on it when it finally arrives. Let’s just say the earful the rest of us got wasn’t pretty, though the dish was, with its striated green and red peppers and blanket of pilau rice, er, undercooked pilau. A few more sips of our robust Amarone and, heck, what’s a few bristles when the beef is so sublimely seared and tender? Australian lamb was a much less dramatic affair, its mild flavor buoyed by parsley oil and buttery sautÃ©ed spinach.
Maybe it was an ardent paean to departing summer, but two otherwise excellent dishes were awash in tropical fruit: an overly sweetend honey-mango glaze on tender duck breast and a succulent confited leg; and mango again, mellowed with honey-infused soy sauce, submerging a vegetable-flecked lump crab roll.
Happily, that soy version was reduced to a mere zesty puddle on slices of very fresh seared tuna, though their wasabi and sesame seed crust was burned. Burrowed within the accompanying potato croquette, an inspired reward of goat cheese, corn, Bosc pear and peas. No fruit on the fine salmon carpaccio, just a faint slick of soy and sweet red pepper and herb confetti.
Eclecticism reigned at dessert too, a crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e gone haute with caramelized banana, and crisp honey-scented baklava. Best of all: the wild berry Napoleon, its shards of delicate puff pastry tiered with mixed berry purÃ©e and capped with whipped cream—indubitably worth a wait at
104 Kraft Ave., Bronxville
Mon. and Tue. 3:30-10 pm,
Wed. and Thurs 3:30-10:30 pm,
Fri. and Sat. 3:30-11:30 pm
Sat. and Sun. 11-3:30 pm
Tasting menus: $65 and $100